When Will Mayor Turner Let the Houston Bike Plan Move Forward?
Earlier this week, BikeHouston held a traveling pep rally to call on Mayor Sylvester Turner to move forward with the Houston Bike Plan. After the rally, Turner said he would proceed with the bike plan but did not provide a timetable.
The bike plan maps out an ambitious citywide network of safe, comfortable bikeways, including integration with the off-street bike trails in the Bayou Greenways project. “Neighborhood bikeways” with design treatments to calm car traffic will form a grid of safe streets for biking across the whole city, while in denser areas with more traffic, protected bike lanes would be built.
If enacted, the draft plan would become the first update to Houston bike plans since 1993. Many Houstonians who were born after passage of the last bike plan have already graduated from college.
City staff published a final draft of the bike plan report in June [disclosure: I volunteered for the City of Houston Bicycle Advisory Committee, which assisted with the bike plan, and with Mayor Turner’s Traffic and Transportation Transition Team]. But so far, Turner and other elected officials have passed up the chance to take action on it. Council Members have been briefed, but have not had the opportunity to vote on it.
Houston’s strong mayor system means Turner has the sole right to put the bike plan on the legislative agenda, where it would get a vote, but he hasn’t done that yet.
After advocates rode and rallied at City Hall on Tuesday, Turner promised the bike plan would get done, according to the Houston Chronicle. The question now is: “When?”
It’s been a long time coming. The effort to update the bike plan was first included in the budget in the summer of 2014, the year after Mayor Annise Parker’s Complete Streets Executive Order. The planning process started in earnest in the spring of 2015, with nearly a year of work informing a draft plan.
That draft was then presented and discussed at public events and meetings, collecting feedback throughout the spring this year. City staff substantially updated the plan based on that feedback and a dialogue with City Council members, before presenting the final draft to the council in June.
Since June, the mayor and the council have not taken action.
Houston is the only large Texas city without a bike plan updated in the new millennium. The bike plans of Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso have all been updated since 2000 at least once.
Houston still has to get approval before starting the process of funding and executing its ambitious plan to prioritize the ability of all Houstonians to ride a bike safely and comfortably.
The bike plan is still not a sure thing. BikeHouston could use your support — send a letter to Mayor Turner and Houston council members telling them you want action on safer streets for biking.
This post is made possible by a grant from Sutliff & Stout, an accident and injury law firm in Houston Texas. The content is Streetsblog’s own, and Sutliff & Stout neither endorses nor exercises any editorial control.