WHERE THE SIDEWALKS END “On Airline Drive, for example, up to 40,000 people arrive every weekend to visit flea markets that line both sides of the road. The neighborhood’s management district is gearing up to spend $2.9 million on pedestrian improvements, including two new, signalized crosswalks on Airline, as well as sidewalks on nearby streets that are heavily used by local residents. . . . [Harris County] has a policy of not installing sidewalks when it builds a new road, unless a group or city provides the extra money. ‘It’s an expense that doesn’t have to do with transportation,’ said Mark Seegers, a spokesman for Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia. ‘The county does not do sidewalks; it’s not what gets cars from point A to point B.’ . . . In the eight-county region that includes Houston, an average of 100 pedestrians died every year between 2003 and 2008, and an average of 1,175 were injured, mostly within Harris County, according to statistics compiled by the Texas Department of Transportation. More than half of all pedestrian deaths occur on [high-capacity, high-speed roads called ‘arterials’], often as people are trying to cross to reach retail shops or bus stops.” [Houston Chronicle]
Fox TV reporter Isiah Carey breathlessly describes the scene yesterday at Airline Dr. and Hill Rd. — “probably one of the most dangerous areas in our city” — where he had stopped to plug a leaky tire:
In the 15 minutes I was there I witnessed 2 hit and run accidents. One truck hit a car and then drove off. The other was a car slamming into a SUV and the driver of the car also took off. In both cases the victims pursued the drivers who hit them. Then there was almost a third accident but the drivers managed to avoid hitting each other. But the fun didn’t end there. There was another instance where two people were driving down Airline and arguing from car to car. One passenger was hanging out of the window yelling at the other driver while pointing his finger very angrily. I asked the tire repair guy what was going on. He immediately blamed the flea markets just down the road. I still don’t get how the flea market can affect how adults behave on a Sunday afternoon. Anyway, when I left the tire repair shop there was like bumper to bumper traffic in front of those flea markets along Airline. I have never seen so many people out and about without a major concert. I almost hit a couple of them who just walked in front of my moving car to get from one side of the flea market to the other.