Aug 8, 2022 - News

Houston's new funding formula for building bike lanes

A bike lane is pictured along Austin Street in Houston
The Austin Street bike lane starts near Houston Community College in Midtown. Photo: Jay Jordan/Axios

Houston cyclists can now have a say in fixing and adding connections to the city's growing bike network, thanks to a new budgeting formula now in play.

Why it matters: The city is in a years-long process of building 1,800 miles of high-comfort bike lanes through the Houston Bike Plan approved by City Council in 2017.

  • Of note: The city defines "high-comfort" as either protected bike lanes with precast curbs separating cyclists from car traffic or sharrows on narrower streets.
  • Every year, Houston's Planning and Development Department (PDD) is given $1.1 million to chip away at constructing the bike network.
  • There are currently 29 miles of protected bike lanes, with 48 miles in the works.

How it works: The new formula will now set aside 10% of the budget for smaller "strategic investments" suggested by members of the biking community.

What they're saying: Houston's bike network can be tedious to navigate at times.

  • "Houston can feel like a really bike-friendly city, until a bikeway just ends at a difficult crossing with no wayfinding," said Joe Cutrufo, executive director of advocacy group BikeHouston. "There are so many small gaps in the bike network that could be filled with low-cost fixes."

Previously, the city had no budget for small improvements — only larger projects prescribed in the bike plan.

Details: First up is a more visible crossing at the White Oak Bayou Trail and San Jacinto Street in downtown, and repairing the bike lane along Holman Street in Midtown, Cutrufo said.

  • The city will also add signage pointing riders to the White Oak Bayou Trail in Stude Park in the Heights.
  • The city plans to present a formal list of improvements to the BAC on Aug. 24.

State of play: The PDD works with the BAC to choose which larger projects on the Houston Bike Plan to implement any given year.

  • Upcoming projects include protected bike lanes along the Washington Avenue corridor, extending bike lanes in Gulfton to a nearby Metro transit center and upgrades along the Irvington Boulevard corridor.

Get involved: To suggest a quick fix to Houston's bike network, call the city's bike lane hotline at 832-395-2700 or email [email protected].

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