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One more thing about the Buffalo Bayou transformation

You saw Trudi Smith’s guest post about the transformation of Buffalo Bayou, which was recently kicked into high gear. There’s a point that needs to be addressed about the project and the lovely park that’s being built up, and the Chron discussed it in a recent editorial.

How will people get there? And where will they park?

While the Rosemont Bridge and a few over/under passes on the north side help people cross Memorial, Allen Parkway is severely lacking in easy bicycle and pedestrian crossing. Crossing at Waugh or Montrose can feel pretty risky, especially during heavy traffic. And the intersection at Taft has no crosswalk at all, with joggers and bikers playing a life-size game of Frogger across the mini-highway that is Allen Parkway.

As it is now, Allen Parkway makes it difficult for Buffalo Bayou Park to become a neighborhood green space for people in Montrose and the Fourth Ward. Updates to the park will be nice, but of limited value if people cannot get to them.

Buffalo Bayou Partnership chairman Bob Phillips and Andy Icken responded in an op-ed a few days later.

The Buffalo Bayou Park Master Plan outlines very specific ways to create better and safer public access to Buffalo Bayou Park from Shepherd Street to Sabine Street. The proposed solutions that are outlined in the Master Plan will require effective use of city property and collaboration with the city of Houston and developers in the surrounding neighborhoods. Examples include new pedestrian crosswalks to allow safer access into the park and improvements to Allen Parkway to increase parking.

Our goal is to finalize our strategy now so when the construction is complete in 2015, we can welcome people who are walking, biking, using public transportation or driving.

Most of the items they specify in their piece have to do with parking, which highlights the irony of building a gorgeous bike trail that people have to access by car. I live a bit more than a mile and a half from the entry to the trail at Studemont/Montrose, but there’s no good way for me to get there by bike. Biking on Studemont from where it underpasses I-10 borders on suicidal. The only other roads to get you there coming from the north are Heights/Waugh and Durham/Shepherd. The latter is as bad as Studemont, the former is okay except for the stretch where it passes over Memorial and Allen Parkway. I might brave it myself some day, but I’d never want to have my kids ride along with me, it’s too dangerous. It’s a shame that it has to be this way, especially since the trail provides a useful entryway into downtown and thus can serve as a path for bike commuters. I wish I could say I had a good suggestion to deal with this, but I don’t. This is the way things are in Houston.

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