Downtown–Museum District Bike Route Blueprint: Protected Lanes on Austin St., Share-the-Road Setup on La Branch and Crawford

Last night Houston’s planning and development department spelled out a proposal to run a new pair of protected bike lanes on Austin St. from Buffalo Bayou to HCC’s main campus in Midtown. South of the college, the officially-designated bike route would continue down to Hermann Park along La Branch and Crawford streets but without anything to buffer it from the rest of the road.

Throughout Downtown and the northern portion of Midtown ending at McGowen St., plans show the bike lanes separated from the street by 2-ft.:

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South of McGowen, they’d receive this color-coding down to HCC:

(Along that stretch 37 free and 24 metered parking spaces on the east side of Austin would be removed to make way for the lanes, but not to worry, a study by TEI Traffic Engineers found that the area ” has sufficient on-street parking to absorb” the proposed changes.)

A dogleg on HCC’s campus would then take things east, over to La Branch St. where the unprotected segment begins:

Why not just continue straight down on Austin like the Houston Bike Plan originally proposed? La Branch St. has a fewer 2-way stops. They’re shown in yellow on the map below, along with traffic lights (red) and 4-way stops (blue):

Following one more switch near Prospect and Calumet streets, the bike route follows Crawford to its dead end at the park:

The meeting last night was meant to gather feedback as part of the design phase for route. Officials hope to nail down the final plans in mid-March in order to begin construction later that month.

Maps and diagrams: Houston Bike Plan

A Fairly Straightforward Route

11 Comment

  • As a bike commuter I’d be more impressed if there was a public awareness campaign for drivers to watch out for cyclists. Moreover, as a pedestrian, that the money be spent on fixing sidewalks instead.
    But that’s just me. If building this will encourage more people to ride bikes, then have at it.

  • There is more awareness from drivers. I see them slow down at intersections when turning and switching lanes to avoid cyclists. It’s going to take some time to change the culture but it’s definitely changing. This is goes hand in hand with new sidewalks and it will encourage future generations to walk and bike.

  • This is a great proposal that would put Houston on track to becoming a city that can be toured by bicycle. In Montreal, Canada, one can tour the city in protected bicycle lanes from McGill University to Parc La Fontaine, and beyond. This is a great way for tourists to grab a bike (‘Bixi’ is their local bike-share system) and get to know the city, support local businesses, and get good exercise to boot.

    Something quite similar could boost the tourism industry in Houston. We already have a very strong bike-sharing system with Houston BCycle. These bicycle lanes, separated and protected by barriers, joining Discovery Green park with Hermann park would extend our infrastructure and enhance Houston’s livability.

  • As someone who has cycled this route many times, I approve of the dogleg to La Branch. It’s much easier to cross Alabama and Wheeler at the lights on La Branch than at the two-way stops on Austin where the cross traffic doesn’t stop.

  • Yeah, I’m not loving it

  • This would be a great development. Protected lanes are far more effective than public awareness campaigns. Though if I’m reading this right, there’s no physical structure protecting the bike lanes (or at best, floppy plastic pylons. I’d like to see a raised curb between the car lanes and bike lanes, a la Amsterdam.

  • Need to have your CHL to get through the LaBranch section. Saw a homeless guy punch a car over there. I can only imagine if I was on my bike. No one is going to pull your man card for getting on the light rail from HCC to the park.

  • Bike lanes on the ground are lame. Houston needs a whole system of elevated bike lanes. Ride above the cars. No traffic. Where have Houston’s big thinkers gone?

  • just build it!

  • Austin is perfect north of Alabama street, but it should jog west to Caroline at Alabama and continue on Caroline all the way to the park.
    .
    If they follow through with their current plan, I will absolutely use the bike lane north of Alabama, but will still use Caroline between Alabama and the park.

  • Send feedback with concerns to Peter Eccles at (832) 393-6591 or Peter.Eccles@houstontx.gov