Looking Forward, Looking Back
I’ve never dwelled on the past, but the New Year celebration always includes those lists of the year’s best songs, best movies, most significant events, most hilarious cat videos, even a word of the year. There is value in looking back over the past year as a way to re-calibrate our aim for 2018. So here we go.
2017 word of the year? Plan.
The Houston Bike Plan was adopted by City Council in March 2017 after nearly two years of work by BikeHouston, the City of Houston and other stakeholders. In the 9 months since then, the COH Department of Planning has been … planning… analyzing the list of short-term projects from the bike plan to determine which projects should be done, in which order, and how far $2.2 million can be stretched. The City has committed $1.1 million per year for a seven-year period to be spent on bike infrastructure. It’s not much, but it’s something. As of today, that list of projects is yet to be finalized. We look forward to progress on the chosen projects in the coming year.
Planning Department is also following up the bike plan requirement to create a Bicycle Advisory Committee. Yes, BikeHouston will be included on that committee. And yes, it’s taken nine months and the members of the committee are yet to be announced. We look forward to the official appointment of the Bicycle Advisory Committee in 2018, and for the committee to begin its work.
And BikeHouston itself is in the midst of its own planning, to make clear where we will focus our energy now that the bike plan has been passed. In the meantime, we’ve been busy:
- Gave away 50 sets of lights every month on our light distribution ride, providing illumination to cyclists riding in the dark on the streets of Houston.
- Partnered with a different bike shop each month to host a ride.
- Returned to Discovery Green for the 45th annual Moonlight Ramble bike ride two months after Hurricane Harvey.
- Partnered with City of Houston, NASA, and Texas Medical Center to make Bike Month (May) a huge success — including a series of Bike2Work Days, Cyclo Femme and the Ride of Silence.
- Implemented pop-up bike lanes at Sunday Streets events in Gulfton and Energy Corridor. These tactical urbanism projects demonstrate the potential for building out bike infrastructure throughout the city.
- Partnered with Houston Police Department on a 3-ft safe passage public service campaign which included designing and placing billboards around the city. Thanks to HPD and Clear Channel Communications.
- Worked with HPD to improve enforcement of laws protecting cyclists.
- Worked with METRO on safety initiatives in the days, weeks and months after two bike riders were hit by light rail trains and killed.
- Consulted with METRO on bike/pedestrian projects to improve access to light rail stops and transit centers.
- Spoke for people riding bikes in Houston to tv and radio stations, to the Chronicle and Houston Press, to City Council, to the METRO board, to Management Districts and civic clubs.
- Partnered with CEMEX and League of American Bicyclists on a program called Safe Roads Together involving truck drivers and cyclists.
- Deployed bike racks and fix-it stands at a variety of locations throughout the city.
- Provided bike valet service at the Super Bowl Live festivities, a Dynamo soccer game, and a variety of other events.
- Offered support and encouragement to Houston Parks Board as it continued building trails along Houston’s bayous, and to the City of Houston Public Works Department as it extended the Lamar cycle track, connecting it to the trail in Buffalo Bayou Park and along Polk Street. We’re looking forward to the completion of protected bike lanes all the way through downtown and the east end, connecting Buffalo Bayou and Brays Bayou Trails.
The Word of the Year for 2017 was ‘plan.’ We’re looking forward to 2018 and hope the new word will be ‘build.’