Here’s some of the new plant life that’s just recently sprung up on the bench outside the Mid Main Lofts near Holman St. (top) and at the southwest corner of Main and Winbern streets (above) outside Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails. Along with another trio stuck to the identical rusty block on the east side of Main at Winbern, they’ve been literally glued to their seats for the past few days, taking over the 3 public rest areas that appeared along with others adjacent to METRO’s Ensemble/HCC Red Line stop roughly a year ago.
The Midtown Redevelopment Authority — the entity responsible for most of the gardening that goes on in the neighborhood’s public right of way — ruled itself out as the planter yesterday morning, saying it’s looking into how the greenery got there in the first place.
Here’s one of Houston’s latest walkable undertakings: converting the former railroad bridge beneath 59 to a pedestrian bridge that’ll link the trail along the bayou’s north bank to planned pedestrian segments south of waterway. It’s now overshadowed by the tangle of overpasses directly above it, but might not be once TxDOT starts straightening out 59 by nudging it east (and pairing it with a parallel segment of I-45) as part of its grand plan for north Houston highway improvement.
No southern trail segments are in place yet to greet the bridge upon its landfall just east of Downtown, but they will be soon: TxDOT’s already broken ground on a trail that’ll skirt the bayou as it crosses through the Houston Housing Authority’s Clayton Homes Neighborhood east of 59.
It’ll link up with the southern trail segment that does exist and runs east toward Lockwood Dr., as indicated by the gray line in the map below:
The results are in from the Kinder Institute’s recent survey of Gulfton sidewalks: where they exist, they’re in bad shape. The map above uses a stoplight-style color scheme to rank the condition of each segment: red means no sidewalks, yellow means they exist but with gaps, hazards, and other obstructions — and green means they’re good to go. (Black areas weren’t assessed by the 16 participant-observers who set out on foot to compile the study last month.)
Out of all charted segments, the worst is a 9-block corridor along Atwell St. that starts a block west of Burnett Bayland Park; it’s completely sidewalk-less between Elm St. and Bissonnet. In total, nearly 43 percent of the examined street segments lacked any kind of pedestrian walkway. Other side-ways where you might want to tread lightly include those along Chimney Rock — which is laced with trip hazards all the way from 59 down to Evergreen St. at the southern end of the neighborhood. Nearly three-quarters of the sidewalks in study fell into this category of disrepair.
Even the areas with smooth pavement were beset with other problems: 70 percent had almost no shade, and 98 percent had no pedestrian-level lighting. The consequences: between 2010 and 2017, 149 people were either killed or injured while walking through Gulfton, according to TxDOT data.
Here’s the rundown of all the locations where vehicles injured (purple) or killed (black) cyclists and pedestrians in 2016 and 2017. Transit-focused organization LINK Houston used TxDOT reports to create the map, which plots out 85 percent of all the 641 major walk-and-bike crashes that occurred within city limits during those 2 years. (Locations for 15 percent couldn’t be nailed down.) Of all those collisions, just under a fifth involved bikers; the rest impacted pedestrians. Click on a dot to reveal more about the specific accident that happened at that location.
Even more data shows up here on the full-screen map, which tallies up demographics like the ages, races, and genders of those hit as you move around different neighborhoods. Citywide, one of the brightest constellations is an elbow-shaped one that stretches from Montrose through Midtown and into Downtown — where 22 crashes occurred over the last 2 years. But despite its dimmer glow, Sharpstown had the highest hit rate of any Houston neighborhood: 29. Throughout the entire city, 158 people were killed and 389 were injured.
New protective barriers of ankle-high concrete have been added around the curbs that already front each corner at the intersection of Tuam and Hutchins streets, slowing down traffic and speeding up curb-to-curb travel times for pedestrians crossing at the crosswalks. The additions were put there by the city’s Complete Communities initiative, a project Mayor Turner launched last April to focus in its initial round on adding infrastructure to 5 neighborhoods: the Third Ward, as well as the Second Ward, Near Northside, Gulfton, and Acres Homes.
The photo at top — Tweeted out by an observer heading southbound through the Third Ward along Tuam — looks down the street to show all 4 new pedestrian pockets including the one in the left foreground that sits outside the northeast corner of Emancipation Park. That portion of the park is where its playground lays out as indicated in the map above.
A view looking east from inside the park shows what the kids’ corner has to offer:
COMMENT OF THE DAY: UNLEARNING THAT NASTY STOPPING FOR PEDESTRIANS HABIT “I recently moved back to Houston after living in Colorado for a few years. I still find myself in the habit of coming to a complete stop any time that I see a pedestrian attempting to cross a street. In CO, it is state law to stop at any legal pedestrian crossing should someone be there. Many of those crossings have signage that illuminates when the pedestrian presses the button to cross. Some even illuminate the crosswalk itself á la Galleria crosswalks, but it’s expected that you stop whether those are in place or not. Also, most people there abide by the rule of allowing people to cross at major intersections (traffic lights) before passing through in their vehicles; this is something that my fellow Houstonians always honk at me for doing here.” [TD, commenting on Walk This Way] Photo: Kevin Trotman (license)
Lower Westheimer is, of course, one of those select “walkable” areas of Houston, but last weekend’s first corporate-sponsored Sunday Streets made it especially so — even in the absence of a traditional neighborhood festival. The Montrose road was blocked off to automobile traffic from Taft to Woodhead for 4 hours.
Video footage of the event from a DJI Inspire 1 piloted by Adam Brackman shows rare scenes of introduced free-range human bipedal and bi-pedal activity in not-so-native habitat — from a few new angles:
And 4 more blocks to go: Site work began last week here in East Downtown to chunk up the pavement into such tidy piles and clear the way for that 5-block pedestrian path known as the EaDo Promenade. These photos show what the very north end of the path, at McKinney and Bastrop St. a block south of BBVA Compass Stadium, looks like, as of yesterday:
There are almost 6,000 miles of street in Houston, according to the Memorial Examiner, and now about a half a mile of one in Midtown can call itself remarkable. The Greenroads Foundation, which confers on streets a kind of LEED-like designation, gave its first formal props to a project in Texas to Bagby St. between Tuam and St. Joseph Pkwy., for the $9 million in improvements built along the 0.62-mile span the past few months.
Included in those improvements are bike racks, street furniture, wayfinding signs, wider sidewalks, and narrower, less harrowing crosswalks. (You can see in the photo above that these improvements don’t include burying utilities.) But the designation isn’t meant just to make the lives of pedestrians more aesthetically pleasing: LED lights were installed; rain gardens were put in to help with drainage; “fly ash” concrete, which reduces carbon emissions, was used where possible; and Bagby itself, with its potholes, patches, and cracks, was repaved atop what the Midtown Redevelopment Authority calls “newly stabilized materials” that are supposed to require less maintenance over the long haul.
Construction should begin by the end of October to transform a chopped-up industrial street in East Downtown into something like the pedestrian promenade rendered here. Anton Sinkewich, the director of the East Downtown Management District, explains that 5 blocks of Bastrop St., between Bell and McKinney, running near the Houston Food Truck Park and leading toward BBVA Compass Stadium on Walker, will be regraded. A pedestrian-only crushed granite path will be installed and dozens of trees planted. This first part of the project is modest, says Sinkewich, though there are plans in place to include more amenities if and when the ’hood continues to grow.
In February, the Art Guys went for distance, walking the marathon that is W. Little York Rd.; tomorrow, they’ll be going for danger. The 9th of their “12 Events” requires Jack Massing and Michael Galbreth to maintain pedestrian safety techniques and situational awareness as they cross the street, all day, at Westheimer and Hillcroft/Voss, what they’re claiming is the “busiest intersection in Houston.”
Here’s the deal: They’ll start their day off walking clockwise, and, presumably to avoid the monotony, switch things up and go counterclockwise the rest of the afternoon. It’s unclear whether they’ll be taking advantage of the various muscle supplements and joint remedies at the nearby Vitamin Shoppe in the Westhill Village Shopping Center there on the southwest corner.