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CURBS Houston

In my last post about the West 11th Street project, I’ve noted that opposition to the project has been featured in news stories about it, but I have not seen any mention of organized support from the neighborhood – BikeHouston is of course a major advocate, but I’m looking for something based in the Heights. I wanted to know this partly to help me assess the scope of the opposition – as noted in that previous post, their web skills are lacking and their claims are at best boastful, but I do see their signs in some yards around 11th Street – and also just because I support this project and want to know who else is out there.

Now I know. Janette Garza Lindner, who had run for HISD Trustee in District I (where I live) last year, reached out to tell me about CURBS Houston and its associated website Safe11th.org, which has its own petition in support of the project on its Take Action page. I met up with her and a couple other folks involved in CURBS last week, and it felt good to know that this work is being done to get much-needed improvements to bike and pedestrian mobility and safety in the neighborhood. I’ve now seen a couple of CURBS Houston signs in support of the West 11th project in front of houses and businesses along 11th Street, and hopefully will see more over time.

Via the CURBS Twitter page, I also found this Leader News story from a couple of weeks ago about other support for the West 11th Street project.

As Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner considers whether to move forward with the city’s plan to transform traffic on 11th Street, a collection of civic associations in the Heights area has thrown its weight behind the long-debated project.

President Mark Williamson of the Greater Heights Super Neighborhood Council, comprised of delegates from eight neighborhood associations, said it voted May 17 to write a letter of support for the 11th Street Bikeway, which calls for reducing the number of vehicular lanes on the Heights thoroughfare while adding protected bicycle lanes on both sides of the street. Williamson said the letter was submitted to Turner, local city council members and David Fields, the city’s chief transportation planner, earlier this week.

Turner, after saying in February that the multimodal infrastructure project would move forward following three years of public engagement and related modifications, announced during a city council meeting early this month that he would take at least 30 days to “take a closer look at it,” according to a spokesperson for the mayor.

“I honestly have no idea whether anything that any of these groups say will carry any weight,” Williamson said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the mayor’s 30-day freeze.

“I would like to think we’re not shouting into the wind and we’ll get listened to,” Williamson added.

[…]

Williamson said six of the eight civic associations within the super neighborhood council voted in favor of a letter of support, with the Houston Heights Association abstaining and the East Sunset Heights Association not sending a delegate to the meeting. The groups that voted in favor are the Clark Pines Civic Association, Montie Beach Civic Club, Norhill Neighborhood Association, Shady Acres Civic Club, Sunset Heights Civic Club and Woodland Heights Civic Association.

Each of those six groups already had submitted letters of support to the city, according to Williamson, who said their collective support comes with a series of caveats. The super neighborhood council asked the city to address some concerns expressed by businesses and residents, such as delivery truck access for 11th Street businesses and the potential for cut-through traffic on side streets as well as possible conflicts between motorists and cyclists at the entrances and exits to 11th Street properties. The letter also asks the city to dedicate resources to monitoring the project area after completion and addressing any unintended consequences that might arise.

Additionally, the super neighborhood council asked the city to expand the number of protected pedestrian crosswalks in the plan, which presently calls for a pedestrian refuge island at the intersection of 11th and Nicholson Street – identified by Houston cyclists as one of the most dangerous in the city – and protected crosswalks at White Oak Drive and Michaux Street as well as near Hogg Middle School, 1100 Merrill St.. The letter asks for similar infrastructure near Harvard Elementary, 810 Harvard St., and along 11th between Heights Boulevard and Studewood Street.

“There are definitely ways that the project could be better than what’s been proposed,” Williamson said.

We’re now past the “30 day pause” period – that was a subject of discussion I had with the CURBS folks – and are waiting to hear what happens now. I’m just glad to see this kind of institutional support for the project. It really does make a difference.

Finally, on a tangential note, I mentioned the Shepherd and Durham major investment project right at the end of the year. It’s moving along now, and while it won’t have any direct effects on the West 11th project it’s definitely part of a larger whole of street and sidewalk improvements. It’s also a lot more visible now, with active construction happening on a regular basis. You can keep up with it at ShepherdDurham.com and on the Shepherd Durham Project page.

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8 Comments

  1. Doris Murdock says:

    Thanks for the links re the Shepherd Durham project. It initially sounds like a 4-year nightmare construction project, but I’ll be happy to see what is planned for those streets.

  2. Doris Murdock says:

    imho, there should be a traffic light at Nicholson and 11th. As to rest, I’m on the fence.

  3. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    These lanes will be a disaster for Timbergrove and Lazybrook.

    Nobody is asking us.

    We will have permanent traffic and pollution. 11th will become unable. The other east west route (20th/19th) is already unusable because its frequently filled with “Drunk Ashley” standing in the street outside the corporate bar chains.

    Bike lanes are agist, ablist, elitist and dont reduce traffic or pollution. Bus lanes? Yes. Keep the bikes off the main roads.

  4. C.L. says:

    I’ve never seen two opposing parties so sure, so secure in their respective belief that that the position they’ve taken and planted their flag in has a singular, linear direct relationship to something that, with about 50 different variables yet to happen, hasn’t even taken place or occurred yet.

    Cray cray.

  5. Fred Lindner says:

    Thanks for the great write up, and for your support!

  6. Jason Hochman says:

    I like the statement that bike lanes are ablist and agist. I guess you can say that car lanes are the same…although with self driving cars, there will be blind drivers soon.

    I agree that 20th and 19th Streets are a nightmare for driving, biking, and even walking on the weekend. Cars parked all over the “sidewalks” or shoulder, amateur taxis stopping everywhere, people pulling out of hard to see driveways. 19th Street is also full of bumps that are rough on you when you are on your bicycle or motorcycle. The city made the stop sign at 20th and Beall a four way stop after someone drove into the trailer park at that intersection.

    The 11th Street change will be good. I can’t believe that Buchanan’s was hosting the opposition meeting a few months ago…I mean, I remember talking to someone there who mention “climate change” and I said that I think climate change is over hyped with the hyperbolic descriptions of climate crisis, or emergency, or disaster, or catastrophe. The Buchanan’s person just said “anything else?” and coldly walked away. Of course if they can get more traffic in there, too bad for the climate.

    One thing to remember, when you ride your bicycle down the bike lane, you are going to need to be careful because there are a lot more driveways along that stretch, so you need to watch for people pulling out of the parking lots. It’s easy to not see a bicycle, and there will be people unfamiliar with the neighborhood coming to the businesses.

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    The city has announced that the 11th Street project will move forward.

  8. […] here and here for some background; as a reminder, there are now CURBS Houston signs advocating for the West 11th […]