Ellis and Turner Join Forces for $10 Million in Pedestrian and Bike Improvements Projects within City of Houston
There was nothing but smiles on the faces of those in attendance at the press conference on April 16, as Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that Harris County Precinct One is committing to spend up to $10 million over a one-year period on pedestrian- and bike-safety improvements within the City of Houston, specifically for the streets located in Precinct One.
The funds from Precinct One will complement the City of Houston’s existing commitment of $1.1 million a year for five years on similar improvements. Precinct One’s commitment is a cooperative effort that will help jump-start many of the projects on the City of Houston’s existing Bike Plan and Pedestrian Safety Action Plan – both geared to improve mobility and safety.
“This is a cooperative effort,” said Commissioner Ellis, who rode his bike from the County’s Administration Building to the press conference. “Working together, we can better leverage scarce resources from governmental entities and the private sector and share our collective expertise to benefit the people who we serve in this region.”
Mayor Turner stated there is no better way to celebrate the first anniversary of the City of Houston’s updated Bike Plan, than to announce that over $15 million of new and improved bike lanes and safer streets would be coming to the streets of Precinct One within the city.
“Together, this funding can result in over 50 miles of high-comfort bike lanes added to the city bike network as well as new sidewalks and/or a number of intersections improved to protect safety of both cyclist and pedestrians,” said Mayor Turner.
Mayor Turner also said that some of the projects include dedicated, on-street bike lanes on the Austin and Caroline streets in Midtown, as well as similar high-comfort lanes that are proposed for Hardy and Elysian streets on the near-Northside.
Safety issues are one of the major impediments for people who already use or want to use cycling and walking as regular forms of transportation.
According to a Houston-Galveston Area Council report, the number of bicycle- and pedestrian-involved crashes, injuries and fatalities has increased since 2012. The report says 54% of those accidents occur on city streets, like the ones that will be improved under this partnership.
Commissioner Ellis said he wants to challenge other cities, entities, nonprofits and organizations to fund more safety projects.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, cycling is the fastest growing form of transportation for commuters. More people want safe, viable alternatives to cars for daily transportation and want to live in neighborhoods and cities that are bike and pedestrian friendly.
Such benefits, like this latest investment should help attract more professionals and businesses that want to relocate to this bike- and pedestrian-friendly city, making the region more economically competitive like other major cities across the country.