“Sure this is a bike lane, but it’s cool. You can still park in it.” – The City of Houston. Ok, that’s not really an exact quote, but it’s what one can gather when there is no State Law that prohibits it or any City Ordinance against it. Just take a drive down to 1901 Cullen Blvd (around the new apartment complex), Polk St (around Hutchings), and Waugh Dr (by The Flat) so you can see what we’re talking about. Those are just a few examples of this headscratcher of a problem we have here. We build a bike lane to allow cyclists to move in traffic, but we also don’t do anything to keep cars from obstructing that path.
If you think you are the only one that had to re-read that and see if you read it correctly, don’t worry, you’re not alone. When Keith Weyel over at D&W Inn called us this morning, he had the same reaction. It just doesn’t make sense. Immediately after my explanation, Keith’s next question was about what he can do. Being that D&W is a local favorite hangout spot for social rides in the East End, he cares about the safety of his patrons and hears their frustrations with what is happening on Cullen Blvd. The newly opened apartment complex at 1901 Cullen Blvd has now added this crucial connection used by hundreds of cyclists and UH students to the list. Just as I was writing this blog we received a call from Liia, a UH student that wanted to voice her concerns with this new issue she is dealing with on her commute to school. Liia told us that she has already been hit riding to school, she’s had close calls, and now we’re adding cars parked in the bike lane to the list of obstacles on her daily ride. Running out of options on who to contact, she decided to reach out to us for advice.
So what can we do? What can YOU do? Pressure the city to pass an ordinance making it illegal for cars to park in the bike lanes and add a hefty fine along with it. SIMPLE!
Ok, we’ll call that the long-term solution. What you can do NOW is let them know about the issue by reporting it to 311! Seriously, it can work. The City pays attention to 311 reports and pays, even more, attention when hundreds or thousands of people are reporting the same problem. You can do this by going to http://www.houstonbikeways.org and click their link to the 311 site. Once on the site, you can follow instructions to report your issue by going to Traffic, General > Traffic Signs from there you can put in the information of what you are reporting and follow the instructions. Please make sure you save your Service Request Number.
Here is how you can do it through the App (like I did!): Log In or Sign Up > Report > Issue Title > Traffic Signs > Description > Answer 4 Questions > Submit > View Issue > Service Request Number
You can also upload pictures of the streets and cars parked on the lane. You can always go back in and add more details. Once you have received your Service Request Number email it to email@example.com in order for them to keep track of the progress and make sure that it’s being taken care of.L
Let’s not just stop at Cullen and the streets mentioned here. If you see the same in other parts of the city, report it to 311 and make sure your friends and community do it too. We can all work together to keep bike lanes free from parked cars!
Here are some fancy screenshots for reference: