Comment of the Day: Scrambling Through Traffic

COMMENT OF THE DAY: SCRAMBLING THROUGH TRAFFIC “There is a chicken and the egg problem with bike transit in Houston. People do not think that it is worth it to support anything to make the city more bike friendly because it seems like there is too much traffic in the city for any sane person to try to ride their bike inside the loop. Yet, the best way to make riding inside the loop safer is to get more bike traffic out there. More bike traffic contributes to greater driver awareness and pushes the municipality to make big changes to improve bike mobility like providing real bike lanes, adding bike racks, etc.” [Old School, commenting on Headlines: Push for Bike Parking; Buc-ee’s Bathrooms]

30 Comment

  • Instead of chicken, or egg, how about we start with an educational program that will teach cyclists the meaning of the big, red, octagon shaped signs that read S-T-O-P at so many of our intersections?

  • I don’t see why people ride bikes other than for exercise in this city. Basically people that rely on them as there only mode of transport don’t venture too far out. Well I am sick of them riding their trikes in the middle of the road where cars have the right away. Can’t tell you how many times hipster douche kids purposefully try to slow down the traffic. And if you say anything anti- bike related around them then you better be careful they will all gang up on you and harass you or destroy your property. Bike lanes would be a good idea though so I’m not opposed to it. As long as it keeps them out of the way of cars. It is pretty funny though seeing the hipsters throw tantrums when a car cuts around them lol. They act like we should all be kissin their ass.

  • Every day there is someone on a bike riding down Woodway in rush hour traffic 5 feet from the nice paved bike path that cost how much?
    Traffic has to slow down to go around them and then do it all over again as they weave through traffic between cars to not have to stop when the rest of us do, and we end up having to slow down to pass the same rider over and over.

    Why spend money on more bike paths if they don’t want to use the ones we already have?

  • The fact is that in Houston, bikes will never be more than a minority transit option, and since they do almost nothing for congestion, bike riders need to recognize this.

  • every one I have met that said I should ride a bike more worked at home, or didn’t have kids in activities and didn’t have to go any where in a hurry, didn’t buy groceries or work at night. we live near a bike path, never see people use the path during the week, and especially in the summer. NO ONE. put a camera out there and count the cyclists. Bike paths are nice idea but not realistic. And not worth expense of disrupting everyone with construction so one person a week can ride a bike on Sunday.

  • Not sure if you people know this, but bikes have the same rights as a car. They are allowed on the roads, just like you in your car. To say they do not follow the rules and should not be on the roads is just silly. And should also mean that there should be no cars as well. Because I can’t tell you how many times I have almost been in an accident because some asshole in their car is not paying attention. Or they think it is ok to cut across 3 lanes of traffic to make a turn. There is enough room to share, so stop being so closed minded, and learn how to drive.

  • Bernard: I bet I can usually count on my thumbs how many cars that come to a full stop at my street corner every day. At least bike riders are only a threat to themselves.
    Donella: People ride bikes because maybe they can’t or don’t want to spend thousands of dollars for a car to travel just a few miles a day in a city with few public transportation options. And also cars do not have the right of way per Texas law unless specifically stated – cars and bikes must share the road. And I see a lot more than “hipsters” riding bikes to Rice and the Med Center on a daily basis.
    Tangeyjoe: Try imagining how bad our crappy roads are on a bicycle, especially since the COH does absolutely no road debris cleaning along curbsides. I don’t know much about the Woodway bike path, but many in Houston are incomplete, have too many detours, end abruptly, or are filled with pedestrians. Typically the LAST path I want to follow is a marked bike path, either because they are not made for commuting but for recreation, or they are so bad that it risks damage or injury.
    And for all the drivers who feel imposed upon by bicyclists, exactly how much time do you lose by slowing to pass a bicycle – 30 seconds? Maybe you should be thankful that there is one less car on the road instead, which gives you more room to drive and park.

  • Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge fan of riding a bike. But any time I hear anyone pitch walkability or bikes or basically anything other than an air-conditioned cars for Houston, I think “That sounds great… now what do we do about June, July, and August?”

  • @donella

    bikes do serve a purpose in some areas of the city mainly Montrose, Rice Village, Med-Center…you can’t even find a spot to lock up because racks are overflowing.

    every spot you typed “someone on a bike” can easily be replaced with “jackass talking/texting on a phone” those people are infinitely more dangerous and inconsiderate. Someone on a bicycle will only damage about 15 seconds of your angry little life, but someone swerving with no turn signals 15 mph above or below the speed limit is more likely to run you off the road

  • When I lived in Houston I commuted by bike year round almost every day. It was safe. It was fun. It was legal. It cost all the drivers in Houston like maybe 3 seconds combined.
    But I like hearing ppl complain about bikers cause its good to know who can only think tiny thoughts about the world, usually no more than the 30 ft. in front of their face. I also agree that unpredictable bikers are a hassle but that’s a small % an they only can hurt themselves, really.

  • As a driver who only bikes for recreation, I have to say that I prefer the random bad bike rider over the THOUSANDS of horrible drivers who run red lights, have no concept of staying in a lane, who force their jumbo SUVs into the merge line on freeways, who text while driving, who eat while driving, who put on make up while driving, who surf the web while driving, who drive drunk, who roll through lights, etc…

  • I welcome anyone that chooses to ride a bike vs. drive. It’s one more car off the road. Why wouldn’t everyone support that? There are too many drivers already.
    Of course, if you want to ride ON the street, then it should be at a pace that’s on par with traffic on that street. It does irk me when I’m driving down W. Alabama and there is someone in the middle of the road on a bike with a line of cars behind them.
    When I was a kid, riding a bike was all I did (poet!). Though riding in the middle of a street lane would have been unheard of. I biked on the side of the road, on the side walk, side streets, etc.

  • Jack is right. Bikes have the same right to the road as your car. I used to commute to work by bike (I stopped after moving just outside the Loop) and I started out trying to make way for passing motorists, but I gave it up. It’s dangerous, and if you encounter a parked car on the street, you either have to stop or venture out into the lane anyway. Better to just take the lane right down the middle and to hell with the honking cars behind you. I see people complain about bicyclists but the truth is they’re in a hurry and bikes are slower and they don’t like it. Tough luck. Slow down and enjoy your coffee or pass me the proper way, when oncoming traffic allows.

  • @doofus: agreed. Im in the same boat. I cycle for exercise. I take up the entire lane for my safety. However, I always follow traffic laws (though I may bend them a little bit inside very low traffic neighborhoods).

  • @Donella
    “Well I am sick of them riding their trikes in the middle of the road where cars have the right away.”

    Did you really think that cars have the right of way over bikes or are you just trolling? Either way, poor poor you…

  • Jack is correct, bikes have the same rights to the road as a car. The problem with it being so dangerous to ride a bike in the city is that hardly anyone knows this. We have TONS of uneducated drivers with no insurance driving our streets, and often intoxicated. Yes, sometimes bikers roll through a red light or stop sign to maintain momentum when it is not a dangerous situation. This town has a lot of recreational bikers and I think if the city would close down one lane on allen parkway on weekends it would attract them all to one spot. Or better yet, close the outside lane on memorial along the park on weekends, this way a person could ride 3 mile loops around memorial park without being crushed. Ben

  • 1st Unpredictable bikers are a hazard, but mainly to themselves. 2nd Bikes have every bit as much right to the road as cars have. 3rd Bikes may slow you down when you are in a car, but not nearly as much as all the other cars are slowing you down. 4th Riding a bike is an enjoyable way to get places.

    Yes, more bikes please.

  • It is also worth mentioning that in Houston, it is illegal for a cyclist to ride on a sidewalk in a business area (which includes most sidewalks inside the looop). This forces us out onto the roadway.

  • Ha. Just as I figured. The cyclists jump right in and justify the fact that not a one of them has ever stopped at a stop sign unless a car was already in the intersection by saying that their law breaking isnt a danger to anyone. In one breath they say that the rules of the road don’t apply to them. In the next breath, and without even a hint of irony, they assert their rights to use the roads by referring to the same set of rules.

  • I would add that if you look at cars in traffic around any american city, I would guestimate that over 80% of the vehicles have only one person in them!!! I noticed this years ago in San francisco, the people are driving mini cooper and smart cars but almost every one of them has only one person in it!!

  • I like riding mountain bike and even did MS150 a couple of years ago, but bike riders who intentionally slow down traffic irk me. Although bikes do have same rights as cars on streets, there are state laws where on certain type streets they HAVE to ride no more than 3 feet from the curb, then there’s the matter of Impeding Traffic which is a ticketable offence even in a car.

    They also forget that if there’s an accident, they’re going to the emergency room or the morgue, and I’m going to Starbucks!

  • I have only rarely encountered a bicyclist who brazenly ran through a red light/stop sign in the front of traffic. But if it’s a side street intersection and there is no oncoming traffic, expecting a guy on a bike to stop is stupid. Most cars don’t even stop. The truth is people don’t like being slowed down. That really is the only gripe. People dream up all these scenarios in which bicyclists have committed some terrible crime but a vast majority of people on bikes are doing absolutely nothing wrong. It’s a car town and drivers think they own the road, that’s really it.

  • I won’t debate that it’s legal to ride in the middle of a lane on a bike, but isn’t there speed MINIMUMS? Meaning, I can’t drive my car at 10MPH down W. Alabama can I? If not, are bikes allowed to ride and a low speed in the middle of a lane on an otherwise high speed road?

  • No, if a bicycle is slowing down traffic they need to move to the right edge of the lane. see #6

    But does slowing down traffic on rare occasions really rank up there with the things that cars do every day, at every intersection?

    My favorite moron driver thing is not yielding when entering a freeway. This is incredibly dangerous, is clearly illegal and causes traffic. I see it at least several times a day.

  • @commonsense — Starbucks? I’ve had better coffee at a funeral home.

    There are no state laws requiring cyclists to ride within 3 feet of the curb.

    Taking the lane is always legal if there are surface hazards – and most bike lanes have unacceptable surface hazards (glass, gravel, metal shavings, 2×4’s, cracked pavement parallel to tires, and more). Impeding traffic is not the same as slowing down and being inconvenienced. Further, if on roadways with more than one lane in the direction of travel there is not enough room to safely pass a cyclist without moving into the other lane, the cyclist should move from the right hand side towards the center. Why? Because the car already has to move over, and it can’t do that if there is a car in the adjacent lane. But by the cyclist positioning themselves more into the lane, the driver will typically slow down and merge earlier and not have the urge to try to force their way through and not realize until it is too late there is not enough room. Cyclists who take the lane typically do so for their own safety, and also for the safety of cars. They are acting knowledgable and polite to cars when they ride this way.

    If you can’t navigate safely around them in a car or their presence aggravates you, you aren’t physically or emotionally competent to be operating a motor vehicle.

  • Compare to places like Austin, Portland, San Fran, NYC, etc., Houston is practically a bike free zone. Encountering a slow moving cyclist on the road might add twenty two seconds to your commute time, at best. But, Houstonians are so programmed to believe that the car is the only way to get from point A to B that it is not surprising to see people trash cycling as an alternative form of transportation because they have to wait a few seconds to pass one now and then.
    Houston’s hot summers are no excuse for not investing in bike lanes and other bike friendly measures. One of the most cycling friendly cities I have ever been in is Montreal. For at least three months out of the year you cannot ride a bike because of the snow and slush everywhere (and the cold). In the summer in Houston, nothing is more pleasant than going for a bike ride after 6 pm. The air is dries out a bit, the sun is lower in the sky and the temps ease up.
    In all honesty, I only ride my bike for fun with the family on the weekends. However, after a couple of very frustrating attempts to park around White Oak to go out to dinner, I recently rode my bike down there with the family for dinner at BBs. While there is a dearth of bike racks, it was so easy to just hop on the bike path, lock up the bikes and go to dinner than weaving in and out of parking lots and side streets trying to find a space for parking. And that is why cycling will eventually become an essential for Houston. We are piling people inside the loop at an unprecedented rate. There is not enough parking in a number of hot spots (Montrose, White Oak, Washington Ave, etc.). People now live close enough to ride their bikes to go out to eat in these areas but don’t because bike amenities are woefully lacking. Or, to put it another way, if you love your car, you should support cycling so there are more parking spaces available for you.

  • I knew this Comment of the Day would incite some of the ignorant folk to come over and air out their rage against the lowly Houston bicyclist. I think what is missing in bicycling culture here besides REAL BIKE LANES, is etiquette.

    RE: slowing down traffic
    I have never seen someone intentionally slow down traffic just to be a dick, its dangerous to do that! I would imagine it was a response to a car driver riding their ass, or getting too close trying to pass and then it becomes a road rage episode.
    RE: running through stop signs
    I do it only in neighborhoods and safe situations when no other cars are present, but 7 times out of 10, a car driver will wave me through first, pretty nice, but it makes it difficult to gauge if it will happen every time. In Austin the police are ticketing the hell out of bicyclists for rolling stop signs, I hope that doesn’t become a thing here.

  • @commonsense FTW!

  • Houston is a great city to ride your bike. Just this weekend I took trails and side streets from Garden Oaks all the way to downtown. No better or more peaceful way to enjoy your city. My advice is to get out of your cage, get a helmet and see what you’ve been missing!