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Petition for safer walking and biking

From Marty Hajovsky:

Stephanie Riceman with the Heights Kids Group, a 900-strong (at least) group of families in and around the greater Houston Heights, has put together an interesting online petition that says as much about how many new families there are in the Heights as it does about the need to make streets safer for bike riders and  pedestrians.

The petition, entitled Safe Walking and Biking in The Heights, is aimed at Houston Mayor Annise Parker and District C Houston City Council Member Ellen Cohen and hopes to gather momentum to have intersections more safely managed throughout the neighborhood.  Here’s the very well-crafted preamble to the petition:

The Heights neighborhood is known for its small-town feel close to the heart of Houston. This community has cherished its tree-lined streets and preservation of walking and biking trails. These amenities sustain relationships among neighbors, make it easy to walk, jog, and bike to local businesses, or simply exercise.

Urban density is rising and a recent investment in roadway repaving has resulted in a greater volume of commuter traffic traversing our neighborhood at alarming speeds. In 2011, a young mother and wife was killed on our neighborhood’s walking trail while out for a jog because the signalized intersection at 11th Street and Heights Boulevard had not been properly managed for active pedestrian use.

Safety and mobility are a priority for our historic neighborhood. Heights residents want safe crossings for all pedestrians: fitness enthusiasts, dog walkers, parents with infants in strollers, children on bikes, senior citizens and others with mobility challenges that require greater consideration.

It is time for the City of Houston to invest in traffic management measures that provide for pedestrian, not just vehicular, movement and put the safety of our residents first.

And here’s the text to which organizers are asking people to affix their names:

We, the undersigned, call on the Mayor and Council for the City of Houston to perform these traffic calming measures:

1.    Installation of Pedestrian-Operated Signalized Crossings {Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB), HAWK System or equivalent} where the Bike Trail intersects with 11th, Yale and White Oak Streets.

2.    Implementation of a Barnes Dance (Pedestrian Scramble) intersection management plan at 11th Street and Heights Boulevard to ensure that no cars enter and idle in the four-lane boulevard and allow for the safe passage of pedestrians.

3.    Installation of a Pedestrian-Operated Signalized Crossing at Studewood and Bayland Streets.

We furthermore ask the City of Houston to make these pedestrian safety installations a priority to ensure the protection of our children and all pedestrians.

As someone who frequently crosses with his kids on bikes at the Nicholson/SP Bike Trail, I am proud to say that I have signed this petition and hope you all consider to so at well.   Crossing West 11th as an adult pedestrian at any point can be scary enough, but doing it with my kids, who are 12 and 15 and thus somewhat older, is downright terrifying.  If I imagine that my kids are younger and on bikes, I start to get extremely nervous at the mere thought.

I’ve signed it as well. Marty also plumps for a signal on 19th at the bike trail. I’d ask for the addition of a protected left turn from White Oak onto Studewood as well, as was finally done at West Dallas and Studemont. A side effect of the boom on White Oak has been the increasing difficulty of making that turn onto Studewood, even in the morning. There’s a lot of pedestrian traffic at this intersection now as well, as many people have to park east of Studewood to get to Fitzgerald’s or wherever, and having that would help. If you live or play in the area, please sign the petition as well. Thanks very much.

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2 Comments

  1. landslide says:

    While they’re at it, they need further sidewalk improvements. Try pushing a stroller over a broken-up stretch, or over slabs pushed up by protruding tree roots.

    I often see a man in a motorized wheelchair going down the middle of the street near my house on his way to the bus stop on Houston Avenue because he literally cannot traverse the sidewalk there.

  2. Katharine says:

    I agree with the petitions to promote safety in the Heights. Drivers definitely need to be more aware and cautious of pedestrians and bikers. However, as a resident of the Heights where the trail crosses Arlington, I would also like to see the pedestrians and bikers on the trail to be more conscientious when crossing the street. I have nearly hit several bikers and pedestrians as they cross the street with out looking. It as if they are in the “zone” and do not realize they are crossing the street. The city put stop-signs on the intersections of the trail to encourage users to stop and look before crossing, however, the trail users to not seem to respect the signage.

    I will also state that drivers need to drive slower in the residential areas. Perhaps, the city could post crosswalk signs to help drivers slow down.

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