You hear us talk about the Houston Bike Plan a lot. The plan provides a comprehensive guide to making Houston a safer and more accessible city for road users over the next 10 years. It has four pillars: improved safety, increased ridership, increased access and improved development and maintenance of facilities.
If you’re thinking this ambitious plan must come with a price tag, you’re right. We talked to Mary Blitzer, Bike Houston’s advocacy director, about some of the questions and concerns she gets on the plan’s cost and funding, and how all this will affect Houston’s bottom line.
How much will the bike plan cost?
The 10-year cost is $150 million. That can be divided into three buckets, or phases.
- Programmed projects: These projects are already in the pipeline and are expected to be completed by 2021. Money for these projects has already been allocated. 130 more miles of bikeways are on the way!
- Potential short-term projects: $27 million – $51 million. This mainly covers re-striping and signage. Examples include turning extra space in a car or parking lane into a bike lane,, or posting signs that state “neighborhood bike route” and “bikes may use a full lane.”. This may also include speed bumps, stop signs and traffic signals.
- Key connections: $73 million – $119 million. These are higher-cost projects that will connect neighborhoods to create a true network. Examples include building trails along bayous and utility corridors.
The longer-term master plan is expected to cost between $235 million and $382 million for additional bikeways. This brings the total cost to around $500 million.
What does the money buy, and how does it compare to other transportation spending?
The 10-year plan of $150 million gets us 500 more miles of bikeways and brings the high-comfort bikeway network to within a half mile of 82 percent of Houstonians. This includes places like Heights Boulevard, neighborhood streets and trails,
How will the bike plan be funded?
The City’s capital improvement plan (CIP) and maintenance funds will be used to cover bikeway projects as streets come up for repair. Funding will come from a variety of other sources, including but not limited to the following:
- Tax reinvestment zones and management districts
- City bond elections
- Federal and state grants
- Private funding
What’s the point of passing a bike plan if funding is not guaranteed?
Without a plan, we don’t know how money should be spent. For example, the City and management districts oversee road projects. Now that the bike plan has identified which roadways should include bikeways, those modifications can be incorporated into ongoing project schedules.
And the plan allows partners like METRO to know how where to spend money on bicycle projects and amenities like bike racks.
Finally, with a plan, we are able to ask for money on bond elections and through federal, state, and private grants. In other words, without a plan, we can’t get funding. The plan has to come first.
Will funding for the bike plan compete with funding for street repairs?
No, street repairs are critical to people driving and bicycling. Streets must be in good repair to meet the goals of the bike plan because it is not safe or comfortable to cycle on a bike lane or road with big potholes!
Is funding for the bike plan going to affect my property taxes?