Hey, We’re Driving Here!

HEY, WE’RE DRIVING HERE! An online petition aimed at Mayor Parker’s desk has just one demand: Block off a street, once a week, for pedestrian use: “Options abound,” the petition states: “McKinney downtown (between City Hall and Discovery Green), Rice Boulevard (between Main and Kirby), or Harrisburg. Westheimer between Shepherd and Bagby . . . . After seeing such a street in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, one Houstonian wrote, ‘Just let pedestrians take over once a week. Let a thousand Sunday night walks bloom. Just a simple avenue for families to walk a stretch in the company of others. A boost for local businesses. A reason to get out on a Sunday night no matter the time of year. A space for performance artists and musicians and writers to interact directly with a wider public.’” [Sign On; previously on Swamplot] Photo of utility pole on Harrisburg: Swamplot inbox

33 Comment

  • Houstonians walking? I can’t say that I have ever seen that happen. Oh, I did see a guy walking once … his car was broken down.

  • This would be awesome on 19th and 6th/White Oak in the Heights. I suppose Washington should permanently be closed to cars since there is nowhere for pedestrians to walk and hardly anwhere for cars to park.

  • Fantastic idea.

  • Time to get the cattle guard ready, don’t want any hipsters putting dents in my bumper.

  • They do this with large sections of tourist areas in Paris in the summertime. It is pretty amazing how nice it is to have a street free of vehicles with tons of people out enjoying the area.

  • but where are we going to park our cars once we get there?

  • so people are just supposed to drive somehwere and fight to find a place to park, just so they can walk on an empty street to…where exactly? anyone else confused here?

    i’m all for shutting streets down to allow festivals and such, but this wont happen in the montrose anymore for obvious reasons and past experiences. shutting down city streets just to throw random BBQs seems very obnoxious.

  • They do this all over Central and South America. It is pretty awesome because people get dressed/decked out in crazy themes and stuff. (i’ve seen groups of people on roller skates dressed purely 80s). It can turn into a really fun event.

  • I think the best implementation would be small and intended for residents of the surrounding areas who can reach the street by foot. Close 4-5 blocks of Westheimer and let the food trucks park there.

  • They ought to permanently block off the car lanes on Main in downtown. Why not? I don’t think it would hurt downtown businesses all that much. They could let folks use a parking meter receipt as a free pass for the day/evening. And yes, provide more parking yada yada…

  • @ Anse,
    Excellent point, there is no reason to have cars driving along main in downtown, should be used for pedestrians only.

  • Are you kidding me? Downtown mobility has ground to a halt with the rail construction and overall lack of planning.

    But as out of it as our Mayor appears to be, she’ll pounce on this bad idea jeans.

  • P.S. I meant the parking receipt could be used as a free *rail* pass…

  • If people want to walk, they will walk. In the 80′s, I lived in Austin, and 6th St. was packed on the weekends. They never shut it down to cars and nobody cared. IF people want to walk, they Will Walk.

  • Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City is closed every Sunday morning for pedestrians and cyclists. This is a major artery in the city. No gridlock ensues.
    Avda. Viero Souto, the beachfront avenue at Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro is closed all day on Sundays.
    Via Corso, a main shopping street in Rome is closed to traffic every evening from 5-7pm for pedestrians to meander.
    Easy idea to implement…

  • While it’s a little pie-in-the-sky I do like the idea. Although absent this “block down the street” I’m still able to walk around all the time. Just walked home my office. In a few minutes, I’m going to walk down the street for an early afternoon margarita.
    .
    Yup. Walking around in Houston. It’s possible.
    .
    People that want to walk will move to an area that’s walkable. People that don’t care to walk will not. Closing down a street for walking sounds good but people still have to take other streets to get to it.

  • when main street downtown was brimming with clubs at the turn of the last century and beginning of this century, it was shutdown on Friday and Saturday nights to car traffic after 9pm through the next morning. There were no more parking issues than there ever are in downtown when main was closed.

    It’s not a bad idea, and if the above example is any indication it wouldn’t be as bad as people here think. maybe shut down West Gray for a few blocks around Bagby on Sunday mornings. Main street in midtown around Alabama could be cordoned off on a random weeknight.

    There has to be the ability for car traffic to get around on adjacent streets. Harrisburg, Westheimer and Washington would be a bad idea because of this.

  • Im in favor of closing off one lane of Allen Parkway on weekends for bicyclists. Or close off one lane on memorial drive (the one next to running trail) on weeknds for bicyclists. This way bikes can do a 3 mile loop around memorial park without having to mix with high speed traffice on memorial west bound.

  • Works in NYC, mid-summer they block off Park Avenue weekends and it’s full of cyclists, joggers, walkers, etc.

    But you can’t drink a large soda there.

  • It seems like every time I go downtown on the weekend some street is closed down or there’s a bunch of guys on bikes blocking the streets. It’s gotten to the point that I’m surprised if we can make it to dinner reservations on time if it’s anywhere near downtown.

  • Lights In The Heights and White Linen Night are great examples of this. Would love to have more.

  • I don’t think just shutting down a street is going to encourage people to all of sudden start going there to walk around. Must focus on Areas where there are already a lot of people walking, then improve it by doing this.

  • They really should close off lower Westheimer, from Mandell to where it turns into Elgin on Friday and Saturday nights. Y’all that would be SO fun. I wouldn’t have to park, I could ride my bike and the rest of y’all can take a cab, if you don’t want to park.

    Probably something similar on Washington? Don’t ask me.

  • I agree with awp. The other option is closing down some section of a street for a specific purpose–for example, a weekend farmer’s market. This is not a “if you close it, they will come” situation.

  • Bring back the Westheimer Street Festival!

  • Bring back the Friday night bumper-to-bumper cruising down lower Westheimer!

  • isn’t this exactly the kind of thing Annise Parker fought so hard to shut down while she was head of the Neartown Association?

  • The petition leaves open what street would be closed. Many streets in Houston are well served by vast amounts of parking. I believe we can find a street where stakeholder concerns, traffic concerns, and the ingredients for a pleasant experience can all be addressed.

  • Lower Westheimer might be a good one? I walk around that area all the time. Would be fun to walk ON the street. There are enough stores clustered together that something of a regular mini Westheiher Street Fest might work out.
    .

  • An alternative is to pick a location that would be a great pedestrian area, but needs some TLC in terms of business growth. In agreement with what others have said, I think this would need to be a neighborhood that has some density already–people to attend the event!–and is ready to support some additional influx of cars on side streets.

  • In commentary to those that would suggest Westheimer be shut down west of Montrose on Fridays/Saturdays. Navigating around drunk people in a car is already dangerous enough. I disdain driving on either night between Montrose and Dunlavy on Westheimer. I’m sure people already avoid it like the plague (who aren’t going down there for a good time). So if it were clearly expected that every Friday/Saturday after 9pm that they shut down to car traffic, it wouldn’t be a huge deal.