09/05/13 12:00pm

As many as 8 new bike-sharing stations could open inside the Loop in the next 2 weeks. Will Rub, director of Houston B-Cycle, tells Swamplot that permits are in hand and the bikes forthcoming for these 5 stations: Spotts Park, at 401 S. Heights Blvd; the intersection of Taft and Fairview, at 2401 Taft St.; the Menil Collection, at 1529 W. Alabama St.; Leonel Castillo Community Center, which is undergoing a restoration at 2109 South St.; and the intersection of Milam and Webster, at 2215 Milam St.

And Rub adds that 3 other locations are just waiting for their permits: Stude Park, at 1031 Stude St., and 2 others east, for the first time, of the Southwest Fwy.: Settegast Park at Garrow and Palmer in the Second Ward, and Project Row Houses at Holman and Live Oak in the Third Ward. Rub expects those to be ready to roll September 19th or 20th.

Photo of station at Lamar and Milam: Reddit user txsupernova

07/24/13 10:00am

WHY NOT BANISH CARS FROM MAIN ST.? Monday morning’s fatal collision between the bicycling Rice University architecture student and a southbound Metro train seems to have occasioned the folks at Houston Tomorrow to wonder at the best uses for Main St.: Blogger Kyle Nielsen shows — with a rented B-Cycle and a tape measure — how little room there is for a motorist to give a “vulnerable road user” the 3 ft. now required by the city for “safe passing” and suggests that the Downtown corridor should be closed off, once and for all, to traffic: “It seems to me that it would enhance cyclist and pedestrian safety, encourage the type of walkable retail and bars/restaurants that Downtown needs, decrease motorist frustration at being stuck behind a bicycle, and enhance motorist and transit safety by eliminating the motorist [illegal] left turns that still hit the Metro rail cars sporadically.” [Houston Tomorrow; previously on Swamplot] Photo: kylejack

06/12/13 11:00am

ARE HOUSTON’S B-CYCLES ‘MERELY TOYS FOR URBAN BOHEMIANS’? Houston has some 175 rent-a-bikes available at swipe-a-credit-card kiosks here and there in Midtown, Montrose, and Downtown, with plans to expand to the East End, Med Center, and universities soon. But an editorial yesterday from the Houston Chronicle seems to doubt that all these bikes are making much of a difference so far, pointedly wondering whether they represent “legitimate transportation or merely toys for urban bohemians. . . . After all, there are no B-Cycle stations in the poor neighborhoods surrounding downtown’s B-Cycle core. It is not as if these neighborhoods aren’t bike-friendly. The Fourth Ward is accessible by West Dallas St., a designated bike-share road that connects directly with downtown. And the Columbia Tap bicycle trail stretches from east of downtown through the Third Ward to Brays Bayou — one of the most convenient bicycle paths in the city, utterly wanting for a B-Cycle station.” [Houston Chronicle; previously on Swamplot] Photo of Market Square Park B-Cycle Station: Flickr user YMKM Agency

05/16/13 2:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE PLEA OF THE ANONYMOUS BICYCLIST “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. . . . Part of living in a city means people getting in each other’s way, like ALL the time. It sucks, it does. . . . 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 inconvenienced by the existence of other humans is part of living in a big city. . . . 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. Truce?” [dangdang, commenting on Ordinance Now Protects the Vulnerable from Passing Cars, Projectiles]

05/09/13 11:30am

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

05/03/13 2:30pm

WILL POWER LINE BIKE TRAILS COME TO HARRIS COUNTY? Approved this week and sent on to Gov. Perry was a new draft of that bill proposing bike trails along CenterPoint utility rights of way. CenterPoint didn’t seem too crazy about the first draft of the bill, saying back in February that it wouldn’t allow the trails unless it was assured it wouldn’t be liable should something shocking happen. This revised draft, the Houston Chronicle’s Mike Morris reports, covers CenterPoint all the way up to “willful or wanton acts or gross negligence.” And Morris writes that as many as 142 miles of right of way in Harris County could be available for trails if Gov. Perry signs off on the bill, many of them providing missing north-south connections between the existing trails that run primarily east-west along the bayous. (Houston Chronicle ($); previously on Swamplot) Photo: StateImpact

04/04/13 12:15pm

MULTIPLYING HOUSTON’S RENT-A-BIKE FLEET Yesterday, reports abc13, the city added to the original 3 B-Cycle kiosks 18 more, bringing the fleet of pay-to-play bikes to 175. Thus far, most of the rental racks are clustered Downtown — including the one shown here at the Tellepsen Family YMCA on Pease St. — but the expansion, funded wth $750,000 from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, also added racks to Hermann Park and the Westheimer restaurant row near Blacksmith and Underbelly. And even more are planned, says abc13, for the East End, the Med Center, and unnamed universities. (You can mess around with an interactive map of B-Cycle locations here and here.) [abc13; Houston Chronicle; B-Cycle; previously on Swamplot] Photo: Allyn West

03/27/13 11:30am

COMMENT OF THE DAY: THE HOT MANTRA “It hasn’t been ‘too hot’ to cycle comfortably for nearly six months. It’ll be reasonably comfortable for nearly two more, until we near the end of May. Summer will suck, but thousands will still be cycling. The same is not true for large swaths of the country which are currently sitting under feet of snow. Houston Summers are less inhospitable to outdoor activities than Winters are in many large cities; and our Spring and Fall are as good or better than most. The ‘it’s too hot’ mantra is tired, lame, and false. [jon, commenting on Designing Houston’s Bicycle Underbelly]

03/26/13 10:30am

DESIGNING HOUSTON’S BICYCLE UNDERBELLY Peter Muessig’s graduate thesis for the Rice School of Architecture imagines a system of symbiotic bike-only features he’s calling “Veloducts” that would be fused on, under, around, and through the city’s existing car-dominated infrastructure. This rendering shows just such a Veloduct, which appears to be similar to those foot bridges already spanning Buffalo Bayou. But OffCite’s Sara C. Rolater explains how a Veloduct is much more ambitious: In variations of concrete, joists, and steel, [a Veloduct] can be grafted onto the pillars of freeways, hang suspended by girders, or stand on its own columns. . . . [allowing] cyclists to capitalize on precisely those systems that have previously hindered them. That [the project] enables different modes of transport to coexist without crowding each other seems especially critical for Houston, where a lack of safe-passage laws have made many of Google Maps’ bright-green highlighted ‘bike-friendly’ roads anything but.” [OffCite; previously on Swamplot] Rendering: Peter Muessig

03/19/13 10:00am

Looks like this mile and a half extension of a hike and bike trail leading north out of Terry Hershey Park is ready to go. Photos popped up on HAIF yesterday that follow the trail as it dives beneath the Katy Fwy. and banks west between Highway 6 and Eldridge Pkwy. along the Addicks Dam.

According to the Terry Hershey Park website, this extension now makes a continuous ride possible from neighborhoods around Wilcrest, Kirkwood, and Dairy Ashford to the Addicks Park and Ride to the northwest.

Here are a few more photos of what you’ll see:


02/26/13 1:45pm

COMMENT OF THE DAY: GETTING OTHER FOLKS TO BIKE ” . . . 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.” [Old School, commenting on Comment of the Day: Scrambling Through Traffic]

02/25/13 4:00pm

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]

02/22/13 3:00pm

A native Houstonian has set up a one-man bicycle-messenger service, reports Culturemap’s Whitney Radley: Within an hour, Clutch Delivery’s Liam Musgrave will pedal to your place almost anything — except dry cleaning, pets, and “illicit substances.” This map shows his service area, extending west out to the Loop and east to Lockwood.


02/04/13 11:00am

CENTERPOINT SAYS NO BIKE TRAILS WITHOUT ‘ADDITIONAL LIABILITY PROTECTION’ Houston lawmakers Sarah Davis and Jim Murphy have each introduced a bill to the state legislature that would have more bike trails built here along CenterPoint-owned utility rights-of-way, but the energy provider’s response seems to StateImpact reporter Dave Fehling a little overprotective: “a CenterPoint media liaison said it would permit trails ‘if — and only if — the Texas Legislature provides additional liability protection to CenterPoint from people entering its rights of way.'” Fehling adds: “What has resulted, though, are bills that would give what lawyers say is almost blanket immunity to CenterPoint Energy should someone get hurt on company property while using it for recreation, even if CenterPoint was ‘grossly negligent.’” [StateImpact; previously on Swamplot] Photo: StateImpact

01/09/13 11:30am

Long a fixture on White Oak in the Heights, the Blue Line Bike Lab has opened a second location in the East End. In early November, the repair shop and retailer moved into a suite that had been gutted for a CrossFit gym at 740 Telephone Rd. in the Tlaquepaque Market, a little more than a mile from U of H. The shopping center, bound on the east by Lockwood and on the west by Dumble, might not be the most obvious location for pedal-pushing hipsters looking for a fixie: next door, as the photo above shows, is Space City Hearing Aids. But Bohemeo’s is just a few doors down and Thai restaurant Kanomwan is tucked in there somewhere, as well. And the East End has had two railroad right-of-ways transformed into hike and bike trails. Paul Dale, one of the lab’s resident gearheads, says, “We’re betting on the neighborhood.”

Photos: Allyn West