Ordinance Now Protects the Vulnerable from Passing Cars, Projectiles

ORDINANCE NOW PROTECTS THE VULNERABLE FROM PASSING CARS, PROJECTILES Yesterday, city council approved an ordinance requiring Houston drivers to play nicer with others. That means: No throwing things at them anymore, and no passing “vulnerable road users” without maintaining at least 3 ft. of space (or 6 ft., if you’re driving a commercial truck). And how are you supposed to know which road user is vulnerable? Maybe you can print out and keep in your car this list — not organized, presumably, by order of importance —¬†from the city press release: “walkers or runners; the physically disabled, such as someone in a wheelchair; a stranded motorist or passengers; highway construction, utility or maintenance workers; tow truck operators; cyclists; moped, motor-driven cycle and scooter drivers; or horseback riders.” [City of Houston] Photo of cyclists on Fry Rd.: Flickr user josephkynguyen

43 Comment

  • This sounds hard to enforce, but anything that raises awareness of common-sense rules sharing a paved surface with others is a good thing. Also, you have to watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3nMnr8ZirI in case the link HTML doesn’t work).

  • We can continue arguing about bicyclists til we’re all blue in the face, but what business to runners/pedestrians have on the street? That’s called Jaywalking and makes them fair game.

  • Thank you BikeHouston for championing this cause! Hopefully there will be some inforcement…

  • What awareness will be raised? I bet in the end only about 5% of Houstonians will know this ordinance exists and a smaller subset will care and abide by it.

    This ordinance is a feel good gesture to get the activist neighborhoods and bicycle community off of the council members backs.

  • @commonsense: Runners and pedestrians are frequently pushed into the streets due to poorly maintain sidewalks, no sidewalks (as in all of Oak Forest) and the many construction projects that block sidewalk access.

  • Ugh well then a “law” should be made for bikers to stay within 2 feet of the curb and not in te middle of the damn lane.

  • Yup, commonsense,just run them over cause they deserve it.

  • I can’t believe how mean ppl get about bikers. I’ve been driving a car for 20 years and they’ve maybe slowed me down 3-5 minutes in my entire life combined. Small price to pay so some can use the roads to save money, fuel and get some exercise.

  • i suppose it’s good, but how could this possibly be enforced even if folks were aware of it?

    will this keep all the cheap montrose residents too lazy to organize their neighbors and repair their sidewalks from walkiing their baby strollers in the middle of the street, No.

    does it give any actual right of ways to other road users, No.

    if we really wanted to make the roads safer for all then we would invest in the required infrastructure. this is just more useless grandstanding from cheap texans.

  • Stop blowing through the stop signs bicycle people and i won’t hit you.

  • I see a new cottage industry springing up selling 3′ long poles that dangle to the side of bikes with cute signs on the end, perhaps with Yosemite Sam saying, “BACK OFF!”.

  • I love how a few bikes and an occasional jogger/baby walker are ruining everyone’s commute, but the 1000s upon 1000s of cars aren’t affecting them at all.

  • It’s amazing how much vitriol is being spewed over an ordinance that in essence commands safe, courteous driving. Besides, trolls, it’s in YOUR best interest – bicycles can scratch the finish, pedestrians can make such an awful noise when you run them down, and any blood or guts you fail to get out of the crevices gets a bit manky after a few days in the hot sun. (Yes, I know cyclists should be responsible, too. Thank you, person who sits in the passing lane of the freeway at precisely the speed limit, and who undoubtedly has never made a Hollywood stop in his/her life.)

  • I imagine all the venom comes from certain drivers who consider cars as an absolute American way of life, and see anything not involving 4 tires (like bicycles, walking, kids’ scooters, etc) as a threat to their very existence. :-)

  • I’m happily awaiting the first case where a driver is shot and killed for endangering a bike rider’s life. Welcome to Texas!

  • Actually Lola there already is a law. And that law says as close to the curb as practicable. In a city that doesn’t regularly engage street sweepers and is full of potholes, that means 2-3ft off the curb in a lot of places. Which is totally within the law. When you get to the areas with narrow roads or lots of on street parking that means right down the middle of the road.

    There are a lot of infrastructure issues that cyclists get the blame for. Believe me, I’d rather not share the road with your car, but I don’t get all pissy about it.

  • Go ride your bike in the woods! Or on a bike trail! everytime I see these nuisances on there hipster bikes it reminds me how pathetic Houston hipsters are trying to hard to be Austin! and take down that ugly bike memorial on dunlavy and westheimer already! This ugly dump has no buisness being on city property!

  • I bet this same “Us vs Them” drama happened 100 years ago when automobiles began acting uppity. It’s becoming less of an issue as time goes on anyway as bikes often move faster than cars during certain hours. Or maybe that will make it more of an issue.

  • The law MH005’s referring to is number 6 on this list; there are several exceptions: transport.tamu.edu/bicycles/statelaw.aspx.

  • I think my only issue with the ordinance is that in some roads there aren’t three spare feet of space. But if the ordinance is altered to acknowledge that fact, then it will become utterly toothless. So we get a rule that’s totally milquetoast or totally over-the-top, all because the real fault is the infrastructure.

  • SJL maintains the list of all the vulnerables.

  • Mollusk:

    I spew vitriol because existing laws trump this feel good ordinance.

    And I’m as a rad of a BMX biker that there is, but the critical mass people are asking for trouble.

  • learn to share the road.
    When you see a cyclist run a stop sign, take the time to reflect how often you obey the speed limit, forget to use your signals, use the phone in a school zone, or other activity that breaks the law just as much as running a stop sign.

  • Bikes have to abide by traffic laws, so complaints about them blowing through stop signs are totally justified, but for the same reason it’s much safer for a cyclist to ride in the middle of a lane if there isn’t a dedicated bike lane just for better visibility. As a pedestrian I get really angry when I see a cyclist on the sidewalk, but those are for walking only. Bikes are an everyday reality for every other major city in this world, so I really don’t get the hostility in this town. It’s much better than in Miami where cyclists are hunted for sport, but it’s still annoying.

  • Shihaya: if there isn’t enough room for your car to safely pass a bike, you just have to stay behind it until there is enough room. The bike truly does have 100% as much right to be there and to be safe as you do. It sounds like we both agree that future infrastructure should be designed with a more “complete roads” approach.

    (As a cyclist, I often will politely move out of the way to let a car pass in a lengthy one lane situation because I realize that sharing the road works both ways, but it isn’t required. When I need the lane, I feel no hesitation about taking it.)

  • The reason for the hostility in regards to bikers is the following: A lot of bikers do not follow the rules of the road. Just read the posts ftom the bikers…all self serving we deserve better … we have rights too… often big cry babies as well. See posts above.

  • Ohh and by the way bikers please fell free to contact me with your vitriol at I dontcare.com

  • I wonder if this 3 foot rule applies to the undocumented popsicle vendors who already take up an entire boulevard lane riding at about 2 miles per hour.

  • @Sid – well said.

  • News flash: most drivers do not follow the rules of the road either.

  • I don’t want to get into a constitutional argument, but until the Supreme Court recognizes cars as people I am going to go with the City Council on this one to protect us vulnerable people (and corporations, of course, if they happen to be running/biking).

    Great ordinance City Council!!!

  • Tom, Craig, et al – my bicycle has only been out of the garage for cleaning for the last I don’t know how long. I don’t like the Spandexed idiots that come up and try to squeeze between me and the curb when I’m stopped at a light signaling a right turn any more than anyone else does.

    I’m more inclined to think that the outrage some are expressing over having courtesy (or at least the practice of it) imposed on them is because some people just can’t help being what our elders would have called “too full of themselves.”

  • On any given day I encounter cyclists who run stop signs, cutoff cars and blast through red lights at intersections as busy as Montrose + Fairview. Have also seen a number of oblivious riders who cruise along Richmond/Westheimer without regard for anyone or for the danger they pose. A few weeks ago I safely passed a Westheimer night rider (who had inadequate lights). Before I knew it I had a F350 pickup on my tail. The raging pickup recklessly passed me on the right. Had I not veered in to the oncoming traffic lane the guy would have killed that biker. I very much respect the right to ride/share, but rules of the road and exercising good judgement apply to everyone.

  • Its obvious why the need for an ordinance like this is required, just reading the above posts. You would think drivers have enough common sense and would naturally stay away from riders/walkers who are obviously very vulnerable. Why the hell are so many idiots in this city in such a hurry and have no regard for other people’s rights?

  • Now I know why fat white men get into those skin tight suits. It is the only way they can get classified as vulnerable and get special treatment like everyone else.

  • This is just a diversion from our terrible roads. Houston Boom Town with roads like the dirt road from Saigon.

  • Sid- Since you have 100% right to be riding your bicycle on roads made for cars, you should also be held 100% accountable for impeding traffic & creating a traffic jam, just like vehicle drivers.

  • Pffft: What? Are you trolling me or serious? Almost all traffic jams are caused by cars, all day long and all the time. And I live on a street that was built in the early 1900’s “for” horse and foot and bicycle traffic, not cars. The root of your anger seems to be a disagreement about the part where bikes have a right to be on the road. Well, people will always disagree with each other, but fortunately for me, the law is on my side with this one. Have a calm day.

  • > The reason for the hostility in regards
    > to bikers is the following: A lot of
    > bikers do not follow the rules of the road

    I concur that this is the reason; however, I also would say that the degree of hostility is way, way out of proportion to the alleged (*) obstruction.

    Nonetheless, some percentage of the population seems predisposed to reacting in this way.

    In my experience both as a cyclist and as a motorist, the amount of delay I’ve either suffered or inflicted in 30+ years of both activities is infinitessimal compared to the delay from accidents caused by inattentive (including intoxicated) drivers.

    (*) I say alleged, because in the big picture, more cyclists = less cars = less delays. So the short delay required to move around a cyclist is more than offset by having one fewer car on the road. Any rule than gives people more incentive to switch from motors to pedals has benefits that far outweigh the costs.

  • A silly feel-good addition to our already overwhelming maze of laws. Bound for ~0% awareness and ~0% enforcement, as demonstrated by the fact that few proponents seem aware of the existing state law which it heavily overlaps.

    Surely there’s got to be better ways of making some certain people smug for a few days; maybe give out rides in the city Priuses? At least that wouldn’t burden the rest of us with Yet Another Law for the rest of eternity.

    What’s next, a city ordinance against murder while dumpster diving?

  • I’m all for more people riding bikes, walking, running, etc. The less cars the better. All I ask is that PLEASE, don’t sit in front of me at a red light while I’m trying to make a right turn. (just happened again yesterday)


  • Fair enough, but what about cars that are in front ad blocking right turns? Or Motorcycles? When I’m riding I try and leave room for right turns but sometimes there just isn’t room. And I’m not about to hike up on the curb just to save someone else 30 seconds out of their day when there are so many other factors deciding the length of the commute.

    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. A really big city, and it’s growing. Part of living in a city means people getting in each other’s way, like ALL the time. It sucks, it does. But when you’ve got 5 million folks crammed together it’s just gonna happen. This ain’t Amarillo or Midland. 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 inconvienenced by the existence of other humans is part of living in a big city. Just ask anyone from NYC or Chicago or Denver or Miami or Atlanta etc etc about that. 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.


  • Sid- I most certainly am not trolling you and there is no “anger” so you don’t get to play the victim this time, sorry to disappoint.