06/18/13 1:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: STUCK AT THE WEST BELT CROSSING IN THE EAST END “As long as some of those trains take at that awful crossing at Cullen, some people have probably died of old age waiting for the crossing arms to come up (though if you know the neighborhood, all you have to do is get to Milby from behind the old Fingers and you can cross under at Polk. You’re welcome.) That said, while it’s nice that everyone is suddenly so aware of the inconvenience and potential danger of these trains, it isn’t as though this were a new thing. That one Union Pacific line parallel to Harrisburg is just as unpredictable and twice as loud as the one in the article; it runs immediately adjacent to homes for miles. I know; I’ve lived by both. It did this for decades before I got here and no one has done anything about it that I know of, but I suppose that’s the price paid when the neighborhood’s skin isn’t quite as light and its homes aren’t quite as expensive. I understand, though; when the town-home dwelling white folks aren’t happy, nobody’s happy.” [Chris, commenting on Headlines: Waiting for Trains in the East End; Waiting for Dunkin’ Donuts in Montrose]

05/28/13 12:21pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE COMING AUTO-AUTO UTOPIA WILL SAVE THE GALLERIA FOR WOODLANDSERS “. . . I think you have a good point. Except that ‘travel is good for the soul’ bit. It is, but commuting isn’t travel, and I defy you to find more than a dozen people who think commuting from the Woodlands to the Galleria is good for their souls. (I work with a couple, their descriptions are more along the lines of ‘the soul-crushing hell of my day.’) But this actually becomes a driver for density. If you have really fast trains and you pair that with dense destinations, commuting by the maglev from Columbus to Houston becomes practical — you have to be able to get somewhere when you hop off that train. And technology changes will figure into this, which is why ‘freeways vs transit’ is a busted argument. Take a look at the self-driving car technology that’s developing really fast. When that hits usability, and you turn the roads into smart networks, you have a situation where they can handle a lot more capacity (because networked smart cars can use it far more efficiently than distracted primates). You also have the possibility of breaking the one-car-per-person paradigm, when you can order up a self-driving car to show up at work and take you home — cars no longer need to sit unused 95% of the time, and can be parked farther from destinations (‘Car — leave the parking structure to be at my door at 5PM, please’) which also makes density more practical — you don’t have to account for all those cars and junk up the streets with parking.” [John (another one), commenting on Comment of the Day: First We Crowd]

05/24/13 12:42pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: CHEAPER, CLOSE-IN “I would just add to what Cody said. You can avoid traffic AND get a big house and lawn here in Houston. You just need to set aside your prejudices about certain neighborhoods. We’ve been living in the Brays Oaks area, formerly known as Fondren Southwest, since 2007, and it’s wonderful. Houses prices are on-par with far-flung suburbs like Jersey Village and Spring; far less than Inside the Loop. Barring any major accidents we can get from our house to the Museum District in less than 25 minutes; the Medical Center in under 20. My commute to work only takes me one exit on the Southwest Freeway. I take a certain satisfaction and watching all the people from Sugar Land sit in traffic, knowing that they spent more and got less house than we did. (Crime issues here are overblown, by the way – the result of sensationalized local news reports. The public schools are lousy, but we have some great private schools.)” [ZAW, commenting on Comment of the Day: First We Crowd]

05/16/13 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE PLEA OF THE ANONYMOUS BICYCLIST “To all the anti-bike crew, I see some cyclists pull some pretty stupid maneuvers and I apologize that y’all have to put up with that. I mean, I see folks pull some really stupid stuff. Running signals without even checking for oncoming traffic, cutting people off, riding right down the middle of gaddang West Richmond at 5mph . . . On behalf of the majority of cyclists who don’t ride like jackasses please accept my condolences. They give all of us a bad name. But please, let’s realize two very important things in this situation: 1) Just as some cyclists pull stupid crap on the road, so do folks in cars. It’s not all drivers, of course not! But dang, Some folks are just straight-up dangerous. Running signals without even checking for oncoming traffic, cutting people off, driving down gaddang residential streets at 45mph . . . I mean, all those wrecks on 59 I keep hearing out my window at 7AM certainly weren’t caused by bikes. 2) We live in a city, y’all. . . . Part of living in a city means people getting in each other’s way, like ALL the time. It sucks, it does. . . . Just look at the traffic on the freeways! At 5PM you’d get through Midtown faster going 15mph stuck behind my slowa** on Fannin than parking on 288. Being inconvenienced by the existence of other humans is part of living in a big city. . . . If you can’t take the heat, get outta the kitchen. Just don’t blame it on bikes if your commute sucks. So, here’s what I propose: I’ll do my best to stay out of y’alls way. I’m not a spokesperson for cyclists or anything but I’ll encourage my friends to do the same. Believe me, I don’t like holding up traffic and I do my best to avoid it. In return, all I ask is not to be treated like some insidious pain in the arse that is intentionally destroying Houston — and especially your life — because I cost you an extra 13 seconds on the trip to Randall’s. I’m just some dude who’s trying to get to work so I can pay rent and taxes and buy groceries and beer. Please cut me a break if I’m taking up the right lane and going all slow because there’s a headwind. Drop it into 3rd and write off that few seconds you’ll be delayed, or, I dunno, go around if there’s another lane. Just be nice. Getting angry over minor things will give ya heart disease or something. Truce?” [dangdang, commenting on Ordinance Now Protects the Vulnerable from Passing Cars, Projectiles]

05/06/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: OUTSIDE OF THE LOOP ON TRAFFIC “Nothing confuses a non-Houstonian like traffic reports in H-town: ‘There’s an accident on the east loop north at 225, traffic is backed all the way from the south loop east to the west loop south.’” [HEYZEUS, commenting on Comment of the Day: Isn’t East of 59 and 288 Inside the Loop Too?]

04/25/13 11:00am

The Problem: “As traffic backs up on 59 past the Spur, drivers are faced with a dilemma. Do I sit and queue here in the right three lanes, which aren’t moving? Or do I get over and zoom past until right before the split? Many, understandably, choose the latter. But what this does is create a new bottleneck at the point where the Spur diverges, because traffic is merging into the left lane and then trying to cross over to get to 288 or stay on 59.” The (Not So Obvious) Solution: “Add a couple miles of barrier and put the split (‘gore point’ in traffic engineer speak) at Shepherd. If you’ve driven this route once, you can see how it would immediately shave several minutes off the trip to Downtown/Midtown/Montrose. The Spur is never jammed in the reverse direction, so anything that effectively lengthens the Spur lengthens the distance of hassle-free 60mph cruising. But such a configuration would also help drivers continuing on 59.”

Photo: Flickr user jfre81 [license]

04/22/13 2:00pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY RUNNER-UP: CAMERAS ON THE STREET, BEFORE AND AFTER BOSTON “Before Boston, my attitute on red light cameras was (1) there is no expectation of privacy on the roads, in your cars or otherwise in public, (2) no person is actually monitoring these cameras, you paranoid freaks and (3) only those who were breaking the law had anything to worry about. After Boston my attitude is the same plus (4) WE NEED MORE CAMERAS and for tapes to be saved at least thirty days to aid law enforcement!” [mel, commenting on Headlines: Challenging Keystone Pipeline Challenge; Watching ExxonMobil Campus Grow]

01/17/13 1:31pm

The driving force of a project that Uptown Houston District has proposed to the city to transform Post Oak Blvd.? Big beautiful buses. With both residential and commercial developments like Skanska’s 20-story office building popping up along the major transit corridor and METRO’s Uptown/Gold Line nowhere in sight, the District has developed a $177-million project featuring light rail-like BRT to update Post Oak — a street “that has long outlived its original use,” says John Breeding, the District’s president.


01/16/13 4:50pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SAYING GOODBYE TO THE SLEEPY INNER LOOP “This complaining about what urban core growth will do to traffic and parking (make it worse / more difficult) is long past repetitive. It IS the middle of a growing, thriving city folks. Easy traffic in areas like the Heights and Montrose was an accidental luxury offered as a result of those areas having stagnated at low densities for so many decades until they were rediscovered by the market at large. Having a good connected street grid helped too (compare to major thoroughfare-and-cul-de-sac suburbs where congestion is nightmarish as soon as the subdivisions and strip malls are finished). But now the urban core is desirable, more investment, more people with disposable income, and yes, cars. Are we somehow supposed to be different from congested Los Angeles (which has much better transit and pedestrian infrastructure, by the way)? Will congestion in our central neighborhoods hurt your fondness for Houston? I seriously doubt it. We’re a great city. And if it bothers you enough to leave, three others who are quite willing to live with the traffic will replace you. And if we ever improved walkability and transit service enough, it would be six more people.” [Local Planner, commenting on Stealing a Glance at Proposed Alexan Heights on Yale]

10/26/12 2:15pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: A DIFFERENCE IN FREEWAY SOUND QUALITY “I used to live upstairs in a 4 plex on the other side of the Spur on 59. I never found the freeway noise bothersome even though I could practically see the whites of the drivers’ eyes from my bedroom window. It was a constant whooshing that I just pretended was the sound of the ocean . On the other hand I later lived blocks and blocks away from I-10 but the sound of 18 wheelers shifting gears used to annoy me when I was trying to sleep. It depends more on the traffic patterns than distance.” [Tangyjoe, commenting on Porch-Sitting on the Edge in Woodland Heights]

07/13/12 11:49pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SELL THE STREET, SLOW THE TRAFFIC “Agreed that we need more “super blocks” about as much as an aneurysm. Why is the Galleria area traffic such a cluster? Because they took the streets out. Why does downtown usually flow pretty well? Because they left the streets in, in a nice neat grid pattern that is only confusing if you try to get too hung up on true north, south, east, and west.” [mollusk, commenting on Finger Minute Maid Apartments To Hang Low, Cut Off Leftfield Block]

02/08/12 12:24pm

RED-LIGHT CAMERA TAKEDOWN GETS GREEN LIGHT A city council vote this morning means that Houston’s on-again-off-again red-light cameras will likely all be coming down in 60 days. The city agreed to a settlement with the camera vendor that would give American Traffic Solutions $4.8 million, plus a share of funds collected from red-light runners. [abc13; previously on Swamplot] Photo: West U Examiner

01/13/12 11:49pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE DRIVE HOME “I work in the Galleria. When I leave work, all of the main roads near my office and pretty much gridlocked. The first leg of my journey home (from the office to passing under the West Loop is 2 miles, and can take me as much as 30 minutes. (The rest of the trip, once I’m past 610, is a lot better.) That’s 4 mph, or the speed of a brisk walk. I’d get home faster walking. But I have no other choices. The bus sits in the same traffic and then would involve transfers and take about 2x as long as driving. That’s a normal day. Bad weather? Worse. And what happens as Houston grows and more and more people are using those roads? Where do you build more street capacity in the Galleria? We have a non-scalable system in a growing city, and our needs have already surpassed our transportation model in places. It’s only going to get worse. And what if you don’t have money? What if you have a disability that keeps you from driving – so much for being productive, you can’t get to work. What about when you get old and can’t drive? Sorry, go sit and rot. That’s freedom?” [John (another one), commenting on Comment of the Day: Parking Lot City]

09/14/11 5:58pm

HOW THE KUBOSH BROTHERS PUT THE KIBOSH ON HOUSTON’S RED LIGHT CAMERAS Mandy Oaklander doesn’t include too many interviews with ardent red-light camera supporters in her cover story, but she does provide an engaging, from-the-top account of how the city got to its current situation: cameras turned off, lawsuits a-brewing. Tasty excerpt: “‘I agree with the Mayor,’ Feldman told city council in his low, measured voice. ‘We are in a Catch-22. No matter what we do, there is somebody out there who is going to sue us.’ Feldman cracked a rare, thin-lipped smile. ‘That’s why I became city attorney.'” [Houston Press] Photo: West U Examiner