BikeHouston Comments Submitted on Lower Westheimer Project

Lower Westheimer, from Shepherd to Main street is under design. The City decided that this special corridor deserves special attention to ensure a design for the street rebuild fulfills the potential of the street. To this end they are doing more public engagement to make sure they get it right. Find all the details on the project here. BikeHouston has been engaged during this process to ensure the needs of people on bicycles are considered. We submitted the following comments to the City on 5-31-17. Questions for BikeHouston? Email info@bikehouston.org

“Dear PWE Planning and Planning,

Thank-you for working on the enhanced public engagement process for Westheimer. It is an incredible opportunity to keep what makes the corridor funky and cool, while improving safety and mobility.

BikeHouston is pleased to see the direction the project is taking, however we would like to call attention to the needs of people on bicycles throughout the corridor. We provide these comments on behalf of the 54% of Houstonians who ‘wish they could ride more’ (Kinder Area Survey, 2015) and our 26,000 supporters. Please find below our comments regarding creating safe crossings of Westheimer at all designated bike routes. Please also find our comments regarding getting bicyclists to their final destinations along Westheimer.

  1. Enhance Safety of People on bicycles (and walking & driving) at Crossings:
    To create high comfort bike routes we must continue the route across Westheimer. Please call out and create safe space for people on bicycles leading up to and through all intersections. Ensure pavement markings and signage makes safe bicyclist positioning clear leading up to and across the intersection itself. Ensure markings and signage helps clarify for motorists to expect bicyclists. Designated bike routes include:
  • Woodhead – neighborhood route.
  • Dunlavy – dedicated bicycle facility.
  • Commonwealth & Waugh – In addition to crossing improvements, consider increasing comfort of bike lanes by using the parking lane to create a buffer for the bike lane by creating a ‘parking buffered’ bike lane. Consider using angled rear-in parking spaces which are demonstrably safer, as evidenced by their use by major energy companies.
  • Stanford is a shared bike route, per Houston Bike Plan and heavily used currently. In addition to wayfinding and paint, we suggest including signalized crossing. The distance from Taft to Montrose is too far (.3 miles) without a signalized crossing.
  • Taft – currently shared bike route, listed as dedicated within ROW on Houston Bike Plan. In addition to crossing improvements, consider expanding the sidewalk from Westheimer to Hawthorne on east side of Taft, as currently there is no sidewalk and pedestrians are left stranded.
  • Brazos – future short term project – make sure projects align.
  • Add a ped/bike activated signalized crossing between Taft and Brazos, again distance between the two signalized streets (.3 miles) is too far for most people to travel out of their way. We are creating a pedestrian focused space with destinations on each side, we need to include signalized crossings that fit pedestrian needs, not just motorists needs.
  • Special attention to crossing safety is warranted at Lamar Middle School given safety concerns at pick-up/drop-off times.

2. Provide safe way for bicyclists to get to final destinations and facilities at destinations:

  • What is the safest/best way for a bicyclists to get from an east/west street to their final destination shop/restaurant/etc. on Westheimer?
  • Will there be space for people to ride on the sidewalks? How can sidewalks be designed as low speed side-paths, with special attention paid to intersection conflicts?
  • At driveways/intersections designs should encourage people driving to stop in advance of driveway/intersection and look for people bicycling or walking. Possible considerations for intersections Include:
    • Where can driveways be eliminated to enable car traffic to flow better, while keeping people walking and bicycling safer by eliminating conflict points?
    • Where are stop signs placed – are they four way? Are they before the sidewalk/path?, Do cars have to stop in the sidewalk or can they wait before/after it?
    • Are the sight-lines clear?
    • What signage is used? Ex. ‘yield to pedestrians’ etc.
    • How is intersection marked – color/paint/bumps? Ex. Can the parking lot include a slight ramp up to the sidewalk crossing which is painted, rather than angle down or just flat to same color pavement?
  • Some people will not choose to ride on the sidewalk/path and will be bicycling in the street for at least a block or two at a time to reach their final destination. Bikes may use full lane signs may be appropriate or you may consider pavement markings to support bicyclists right to be on-street.
  • Are there instances where it is possible to travel directly from an east-west street to final destinations via parking lots?Can signage or pavement markings be added to the parking lot to clarify this?
  • How will provision of safe, convenient (close to front doors, highly visible/trafficked area, ideally covered) bike parking be encouraged?
    • This may be a great time to make businesses aware of trade-offs in car parking based on provisions of bike parking or clarifications/expansions of existing parking ordinance.

Thank-you again for this chance to comment during the early design stage of the project. We are happy to follow-up at any time.

BikeHouston”

 

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