The Case for Building a Safe City for Bicycling

Currently, Houston lacks a safe, connected bicycle network present in many other U.S. cities including Denver, Minneapolis, and Austin. As a result of our inadequate bikeway network and lack of bike parking, Houston continues to see too few people riding to destinations across our city and too many fatalities on our streets. In June 2015 alone, four people were hit and killed by cars while riding their bicycles. We can and must do better. Houston has the potential to be a safe and bicycle-friendly city given its climate, topography, expanding trail and transit system and growing bicycle culture.

BikeHouston advocates for a network of safe, continuous bikeways within a half mile of all Houstonians. This network must work for people young and old, and reach all parts of our City. Read more about our goals for a safe, comfortable bicycle network here.

Benefits of Building a Safe Bicycle Network

Increase the number of people riding bikes: Over half of the population of Harris County wishes they could ride a bicycle more often [1] and the share of people bicycling is increasing across the country. Cities that have built a safe bicycling network have seen the percentage of bicycle commuters double and triple [2]. With a safe bicycle network we can address health and traffic concerns by tripling the share of people commuting by bicycle from 0.8% to 3% in five years.

  • Reduce Traffic Congestion: 33% of all trips in Houston are three miles or less [3], a distance which is easier, and often faster, by bicycle than by car. If there were safe, comfortable bikeways to travel on for these three miles, people would begin to use a bicycle rather than a car for these trips – taking cars off the road, reducing traffic, and getting people active.
  • Improve Health: Today 65% of our population suffers from a lack of physical activity and, as a result, suffers from increased levels of obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Riding a bicycle for fifteen minutes – the time it takes an average person to ride three miles – is a great way to start getting the recommend level of daily physical activity.
  • Increase Economic Competitiveness: Benefits accrue immediately to the business community as it becomes easier to attract and retain educated workers who choose where they want to live and start companies based on quality of life concerns. These investments also expand people’s access to jobs and educational opportunities allowing them to achieve better outcomes for themselves and their families.

Voters Support Bike Infrastructure

The resounding success of the Bayou Greenways 2020 bond initiative demonstrates that Houston voters support expanding hike and bike infrastructure. Further, a 2014 survey performed by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department shows that 60% of Houston residents and likely voters, across all ages and races, rank providing safe access to parks and trails as a top priority.

What’s Next                                                                    

In April, City of Houston kicked off a 12 month planning effort to update the City’s Comprehensive Bikeway Plan originally adopted in 1993. Completing our bicycle network to allow access to bayou trails capitalizes on our investment and is a voter priority.

[1] Kinder Houston Area Survey 2015, p. 23 https://issuu.com/kinderinstitute/docs/2015_kinder_institute_has_pdf_4by3-/1?e=9291679/12583206

[2] American Commuting Survey, 2013 Data from the League of American Bicyclists

[3] H-GAC Travel Demand Model

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