Why the Sidewalk at the Washington Ave Five Guys Burgers Isn’t Walkable

Struggling to make themselves heard above the whoosh of traffic along the Washington Corridor, Better Houston’s Pedestrian Pete (a.k.a. one-time mayoral candidate Peter Brown) and visiting Harvard prof and city planner Peter Park take a very short stroll in this recently uploaded video. Their objective? To lament the guy wires, utility poles, and other hindrances for would-be pedestrians on the few feet of sidewalk they traverse in front of Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Buffalo Wild Wings in this strip center near Leverkuhn at 3939 Washington.

Video: Pedestrian Pete

23 Comment

  • They’re pointing out problems with a sidewalk that they’re the only pedestrians on.

  • It would clean up a lot of the urban clutter if we could follow what other cities – especially ones in Hurricane zones – have done and bury our electrical infrastructure to help protect it, but at this point, it would be cost prohibitive and it may just shift the emergency issues from downed lines to flooded vaults (like NY during Sandy) with as much street flooding and ponding we have here.

  • You wanted density, you got density…..Choke on it

  • Dana, good to see that you’ve finally solved that “chicken or the egg” riddle that’s befuddled so many in the past.

  • Perhaps there would be more pedestrians if the sidewalks were designed properly.

  • I’d have a lot more respect for Peter Brown and his efforts if he hadn’t been the city councilman who negotiated the deal to sell a walkable city street (Bolsover) in Rice Village to a developer who has plopped down a cookie-cutter, mid-rise apartment complex between Kelvin and Morningside. Seems like all it takes to be a planning expert in Houston is to declare yourself one.

  • Yeah, Dana. If you think Washington Ave is dead during the day, you should see it at night. Ghost town. Someone needs to tell that guy Pete to stop trying to make things better. This is Houston. You take what you get.

  • Maybe we’re the only folks that would consider watching such a show, but it would be interesting if one of the networks would create an Extreme Makeover: Cityscape Edition. Imagine if Peter Park were given a TV show size budget for each episode to improve the urban blueprint of a small area such as this. Think of how such a show could change our nation’s perception and understanding of our cities.

  • but how is this area so much different from all the other unwalkable areas around town?

    we have roads that kill and injure people in the same spots consistently. we have deadly intersections for pedestrians and etc. certainly understand the concerns, but unless texans want to stop being childish with our money there simply isn’t enough to go round to solve all our problems with transit and walkability.

  • I’m happy to see anyone try to make a difference, so I applaud Brown. But Houston won’t even replace residential sidewalks. There are sidewalks where I live that are cracked and lifted over a foot. On the other hand, no one even walks there either. But trying to attract pedestrians with a beautification scheme should be a secondary priority. If the drunks on Washington can’t negotiate a telephone pole then making the sidewalk wider isn’t really helping much.

  • I hope peddypete was more eloquent when he was a city councilman, it’s no wonder Houston isn’t taken seriously as a world class place with such a wordsmith like that in a position of power.

  • @Thomas,

    I would love such a show.

  • ha, what we have an anti-sidewalk element in the swamplot commentary now?

  • In Houston, whoever owns the adjacent house is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk. The city will only dive in under certain circumstances, generally having to do with access to schools – and even then, only on one side of the street.
    I suppose Council could decide to take over sidewalk maintenance…but then there’s the issue of finding the money to pay for that. Certain Other Posters would have an absolute fit over such a thing, and unfortunately it seems like those in political power in this part of the world seem to think that the little group that is loudly banging their figurative spoons on their high chairs is the group whose wishes must be honored.

  • I’m completely fine if the city stays out of the business of fixing sidewalks. But how hard would it be to levy fines on owners who don’t maintain the public ROW? Sort of like how people in the north get fined if they don’t shovel after it snows? Win-win.

  • @old School
    You have our new city slogan:
    “This is Houston. You take what you get.”
    I literally lol’d in my office after reading your post.

  • In many large cities, the responsibility for maintaining the sidewalk falls to the adjacent property owner. New York does not pay for their sidewalk maintenance. Portland does not pay for their sidewalk maintainance. They won’t even pay to put a bird on it. Stop whining about Houston not paying for it and start whining about Houston not enforcing it’s own codes and ordinances. There is an argument to be made that some public funds go for this purpose – but many cities have nice sidewalks with no public maintenance. It may not be the most efficient arrangement but it is not so impractical to result in poor public utilities. The real problem is this city’s long disregard for enforcing it’s own rules and the public whining on the rare occasion the city shows some backbone and tries to enforce.

  • Agreed, if we’re going to have an ordinance putting responsibility on property owners, it should be enforced.

    As should the one about blocking sidewalks, e.g., vehicles parked in driveways across sidewalks.

  • Thanks for posting this video. I sure needed a laugh this evening. Peter Brown was a do nothing councilmember and I guess he is doing nothing now. Thanks Peter.

  • The sidewalk in front of one of my buildings was all busted up and ugly as hell. So I had it replaced. It’s not like it’s that expensive.
    If it falls on the homeowner to maintain the sidewalks in front of their property, they should just do it. It’s not like fixing it is only a benefit to the community. You get a better looking / more functional sidewalk and will more than get your money back in equity when you sell.
    So fix your shit, lazy homeowners.

  • Shouldn’t old Peter Brown be heading to his wife’s estate in France about this time of year?

    And what’s with the scarf in July, Peter Brown?

  • I understand COH’s policy but there are a lot of neighborhoods where the residents just don’t have 1 or 2$K to fix their sidewalks.

    If you build a wetlands area, the water birds will come. If you build wide sidewalks and even if some hip, urban retail sprouts up alongside it like some native species, will enough pedestrian birds flock there on a regular basis for it to make sense or will it just be a feelgood/beautification project? I think the answer is we don’t know. I am ok with beautification and also with small-scale experimenting as a way to find out, however.

  • @ Dana-X: Surely you have taken notice that architectural renderings of developments intended to be “walkable” have numerous cut-and-paste pedestrians in them! Build it and they will come. The renderings are like a social contract, and they extend to every other “walkable” pet project in Houston. You doubt me? Bitch, please. It’s drawn, so there.