Bike Racks for Inner Loop Eateries

BIKE RACKS FOR INNER LOOP EATERIES Buried in Anvil owner Bobby Heugel’s long complaint about Houston Press coverage of possible neighborhood opposition to an application for an on-street valet parking zone for the Hay Merchant and Underbelly in the former Chances Bar space on Westheimer at Waugh: News of a new initiative sponsored by OKRA, the restaurant advocacy group he helped found. “We’re going to start providing complimentary bike racks to small restaurants and bars inside the loop, at our cost, to encourage alternative transportation in Houston. This is for OTHER restaurants and bars, not our own, which already have bike parking.” [Eating Our Words] Photo of Underbelly, 1100 Westheimer: Vinson

24 Comment

  • I really appreciate what Bobby is doing. Sure parking is a problem, but the relentless myopic focus of regulations on cars is going to crowd out and burden small neighborhood business. I live on the far west side but keep a bike stashed near Rice for weekend and evening runs. Houston could benefit from a bikeshare program. And let’s not forever about the burbs. All these “town centers” could be more bike friendly as well. I got scolded by a manager at City Centre’s Yard House for locking my Schwinn “eye-sore” in front of their establishment. Thanks for the bike racks Bobby!

  • Houstonians like driving cars. Not providing Houstonians a place to park their cars causes one or both of the following: (1) people don’t go to the business or (2) people clog the streets around the business with their parked cars. I keep hearing about the affect of the parking ordinance on small businesses and while I am somewhat sympathetic, it’s borderline delusional to allow businesses to operate in Houston with inadquate or no parking.

  • “…[It’s] borderline delusional to allow businesses to operate in Houston with inadquate or no parking”

    Since when is it the city’s job to decide whether a business should operate on the basis of whether people will patronize that business?

    If there is no demand for the goods or services provided by a business without parking, then that business will cease to exist.

    C’mon, now.

  • @ Mel
    That explains why Poison Girl went out of business years ago. Oh, wait, no it didn’t. If a business is worthwile people will park a few blocks away if they have to. Plus there actually are a few of us who walk or ride a bike around town.

  • If there is no demand for the goods or services provided by a business without parking, then that business will cease to exist.

    Exactly my point. People either won’t go or they’ll clog the streets with their parked cars. Nothing you or texasota said contradicts my statement.

  • The bureaucrats @ City Hall are so hellbent on catering to the big box retailers (Wal-Mart,Kroger,etc.) at the new big dollar developments, that they’re purposely going to run off/shut down the small business owners with the purposely draconian off street parking regulations. And I thought Annise Parker was business friendly. But in her neighborhood( Westmoreland addition) surprise,there are no restaurants/clubs/bars that require off street parking.And the streets there are sans pot holes, have speed limit signs and other traffic reduction measures. Anyway, City Hall,I believe,is purposely trying to prevent current/new businesses from succeeding by implementing the crazy off street parking regulations. Bobby Heugel’s efforts aside, he and the other business owners better seriously consider getting an attorney and suing the City to file an injunction to stop the implementation of the new off street parking regulations. Or they may not have as much business as they have now. Because,like it or not,Houston,IS a car -centric city and if people cannot park at/near/within a short walk of the front door of a business,they will NOT patronize said business.

  • Parking in this stretch of Westheimer will continue to be a huge problem–especially for those who own houses close to the bars.

    Our house is one block away from Boondocks, Anvil, et al. We frequently had people partying loudly at their cars at 3 am, urinating in our yard, smashing bottles in the street, fighting, vandalizing our cars and parts of our houses, and even shooting guns at our windows. Our street was normally exceptionally quiet and peaceful, EXCEPT on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, when it turned into a party zone–not for the residents, but for the bar patrons.

    While I appreciate Heugel’s efforts, ultimately the problem lies not with what the bars are doing, but what their patrons are doing (which has very little to do with bar policies.)

    Rather than wait for the bars to somehow fix a problem that they may not even be aware of, our block’s solution was to apply for permit parking through the city. It took nine months, and it has done wonders–maybe not completely fixed the problem, but the obnoxious bar traffic is greatly reduced. The entire street feels some small measure of relief when a noisy bar patron illegally parks on our block late in the evening, defying the posted signs, and then comes back to find their car towed. Because hopefully word will spread to use official bar parking, rather than bringing the nightlife to an otherwise quiet neighborhood.

  • The real issue is the “clogging.” Who cares? The city requires that residences have off-street parking, so why is it so freaking important that customers to these businesses don’t park on the street? I would certainly rather have the street parking filled than have the neighborhood paved with parking lots.

    Would you rather be Chicago or Los Angeles?

  • “clog the street with their parked cars”- I suppose you have to decide whether that is negative enough for the city to require parking for every business. Personally, I prefer living in a city where residential and retail are mixed and dense enough to allow me *not* to drive, which is only really possible with lots of on-street parking.

  • Stu, clearly you don’t live near these bars. We (and our neighbors) have no objection to the street parking being filled or cars in these spaces. What we do object to, in a residential neighborhood, is 3 am screaming and blaring music, smashing bottles, urine and garbage in our yards, cars honking and revving engines at 3 am. These activities aren’t all that conducive to a friendly neighborhood.

  • I’m sorry MW, but I do live in the neighborhood, and I recognize that the sort of inconveniences you’re describing are pretty much a normal part of living in a fun, vibrant neighborhood like Montrose. The thing is, as long as you live more than a block away from Westheimer, none of what you describe is much of an issue. And honestly, if you think Montrose is bad, talk to my friends who live off of Washington.

  • Montrose is not really a “residential neighborhood;” it is so much better than that. It is a complete neighborhood, in which you can live, work, play and shop without ever leaving. Does that come with some drawbacks? Yes. Are they worth it? Oh hell yes.

  • Actually, MW, I do live in the neighborhood and have for years. It is an urban neighborhood with urban issues, although I have never had any issues like those you mention and I’m a block off Westheimer.

    And it still doesn’t have anything to do with “clogging the streets.” Parking lots are ugly and are easy centers for crime. I, for one, don’t want more of those in the Montrose.

    I knew what the neighborhood was like when I bought my house — I knew there was nightlife and noise. I can deal with that. I’ve been here for ten years and it was a nightlife-heavy neighborhood for decades before I moved in. If I didn’t want that, I could have moved to Jersey Village.

  • City Hall is “out to get” small businesses? What a joke!

  • Stu, neighborhoods along Westheimer are variable in terms of traffic, noise, businesses etc. I’d argue that our particular section–one block from the Anvil/Boondocks/Royal Oak triangle–gets far more late night traffic than most other stretches of Westheimer.

    This is why our block took action and applied for permit parking which, as I mentioned, has done wonders for reducing 3 am obnoxiousness. More parking lots or dedicated parking areas are absolutely necessary–you may think they’re an eyesore, but a city can’t privilege drinking establishments over long standing residential neighborhoods. And yes, among other things, Montrose is a residential neighborhood. Heugel has the right attitude when he says that conversation and compromise is necessary.

    I don’t buy the attitude that “you moved into this neighborhood, so deal with the obnoxiousness.” No, we moved into this neighborhood for the proximity of services, culture, restaurants. Most of the bars arrived after we did, and they should absolutely have some responsibility in keeping the neighborhood safe.

  • Parking lots are not just an “eyesore.” They actively take up space that could be used by something of greater value, be it a business or an apartment building or a number of other things. If you move to montrose for its proximity to services, “culture,” and restaurants, then you have to realize that that proximity is only possible if parking lots are kept to minimum to allow a higher density of businesses etc.
    As for the bars arriving after you did, that may be true of some of those currently in business, but in many cases they simply replaced bars that went out of business. Yes, Anvil is young, but chances and Mary’s had been all of a block away for years. Lower Westheimer has had bars on it for decades.

  • Stu and Texasota, So how do you propose that residents near Westheimer deal with drunk and obnoxious bar patrons sitting on their car hoods drinking at 3 am in front of our houses, urinating on our lawns, and leaving garbage in our yards? I’m not asking as a loaded question–I really want to know.

    (And “just deal with it” is not a solution.)

  • Except it sounds like you did deal with it- by instituting the parking permit requirement. you said that that “worked wonders,” so are you saying that the issue is persisting?

  • Texasota, which bar or coffee house do you own or work at? Just curious.

  • I’m a full time grad student. I do try to supplement my income when I can, but I’ve never worked at any bar, cafe or restaurant in Houston. Would my opinion be less valid if I were a waiter or bartender?

  • I think installing bike racks is a good start to encouraging people to bike to their business. Someone else said it but it’s true, these town centers need to start incorporating bike infrastructures into their properties. Maybe Anvil could do a discount for your bike parked out front. A bike show hosted by Anvil and catered by Underbelly…

  • I thought this story was about bike racks…truth be told, the “bike rack” solution is not really helping the bar parking situation, since from I have observed about Houston’s bar culture and bike riding culture, is that typically people will go ride their bikes for a workout, and then go home and take a shower and get cute before DRIVING to the bar. Showing up at the bar sweaty from a bike ride isn’t going to get you laid.

  • Texasota, of course not. Just curious as to whether you were in the “biz” or not. I find that bar/coffee shop owners and workers tend to have a certain view on this subject and your posts are perfectly aligned with such a view.

  • UG-
    I feel like you’re describing the Washington Ave bike scene, but in Montrose there are plenty of people who ride to the bars.

    Mel- I think I’m speaking more from the experience of living in other cities, particularly Minneapolis.