On Martin Luther King Jr. Day a group of determined Northside citizens, BikeHouston, and Avenue CDC got together and built a 500-foot bike lane. Tape, chalk, brooms, shovels, and safety vests lay in a disheveled pile in the grass after, somehow, we completed building our vision of a safer street. We laid plywood over the potholes, created a “bulb out” to further separate cars from bicyclists and pedestrians, and removed all the parking from the street (with the ok from residents) to allow our bike lane to function. It was a big moment for all of us as we watched a Metro bus turn onto the street, negotiating our new intersection perfectly. We got the design just right.
Looking back on that day I thought to get the bike lane on the ground was the greatest success, but indeed we built something much greater–community. Through the site visits, phone calls, design options, permit applications, and traffic control, we worked together and built something we could all be proud of.
The dedication of these community members to improve their neighborhood was nothing short of inspiring, and an example of what people can do if they are empowered with the right tools to create change.
To further empower our supporters, we will be launching our new “Community Advocate” program in the Northside neighborhood at the Leonel Castillo Center on February 10th at 10 am. Our training will be an overview of bike projects underway in the Northside, ways to ensure the development of these bikeways, and free bicycle safety classes.
Now, you might be thinking, “that’s great, but what about my neighborhood!?” Have no fear. This is just the beginning. We will be hosting a series of training in the coming months in different areas of Houston to equip advocates with the information and tools needed to get what you need to be done in your neighborhood. In the spirit of “building,” let’s get to work!