Houston Takes Steps Toward Improving Dangerous Bike Intersections

While bicycling offers many benefits, it’s not without risks. In car accidents, a bicyclist has much less protection than those inside the car – which can lead to devastating injuries. On Bike to Work Day in May 2018, Mayor Turner instructed BikeHouston to work with the city to improve bicyclist safety. This was in response to a series of bicyclist fatalities.

If you were recently in a bike accident and sustained severe injuries, you deserve compensation. Speak to a qualified Houston bike accident lawyer to see how they can help.

Houston Safe Streets Program Investigation

Mayor Turner asked that they identify ten dangerous intersections in need of improvement, calling it the “Safe Streets Program.” Working with LINK Houston to receive information on crash reports of cyclists and pedestrians, BikeHouston identified thirty potential intersections to consider. Mayor Turner selected twelve of those streets for initial investigation.

  • Airline and West
  • 11th and Nicholson
  • Patterson and Washington
  • Pierce and Fannin
  • Ranchester and Bellaire
  • Bellaire and South Gessner
  • Long Point and Gessner
  • Fondren and West Bellfort
  • Bissonnet and Wilcrest
  • Shepherd Allen Parkway and Kirby
  • Taylor Spring and MKT Trail
  • Hawthorne and Spur 529 and Bagby

The city installed cameras at each of the intersections to study traffic patterns. The review team studied the findings, considering factors like speed limits and types of intersections. Houston Public Works then partnered with the Federal Highway Administration’s safety team to undertake a road safety audit on the first half of the twelve intersections.

The process required each team member to visit the intersections under review at different times of the day to develop a broad picture of the different traffic patterns. Then the team members assessed how well the current infrastructure met the needs of the intersection. They also analyzed traffic counts, crash reports and bus boardings to gain further insight into each of the intersections. Traffic counts revealed that some roads have more lanes than necessary, even during rush hour. The team says reducing the number of lanes and introducing bus and bike lanes is a future possibility.

The intersection observations confirmed that cyclists use intersections for recreation and transportation on all types of roads. The lack of safe roads puts cyclists in dangerous situations. Several pedestrians stopped to mention the need for crosswalks and reported dangerous instances to the team members on site. Pedestrian accidents also frequently occur throughout Houston.

While this audit focused on only six of the intersections, the City of Houston plans to schedule an audit for the remaining half soon.

Next Steps for the Houston Safe Streets Program

With all the findings, the Federal Highway Administration will develop a report with safety recommendations for the intersections in question. Some intersections may only need treatments such as newly-painted crosswalks; others will need more substantial measures.

The City of Houston has not decided whether to release the report to the public. BikeHouston advocates for a public release so people can educate themselves on the characteristics of dangerous intersections. BikeHouston also wants the public to be aware of the recommendations for improvement that can transform these perilous intersections and others. You can contact your local council member to advocate for the public release of the report.

Regardless of whether the city chooses to release the report, the information will still be useful in protecting Houston bicyclists and pedestrians. While no official plans have been announced, Houston will likely use the information gathered through this study to start planning for the reconstruction of these intersections to alleviate the problems. With even something as simple as adding a crosswalk improving the safety of pedestrians on roadways, larger changes like adjusting the number of lanes can have an even bigger impact.

As more information becomes available about the Houston Safe Streets Program study, we will likely see improvements to the safety of these and possibly other intersections. Everyone who uses Houston roadways – motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians alike – can help by understanding and following the rules of the road.