Heights residents opposed to 11th Street bike lanes

Heights residents opposed to 11th Street bike lanes

Residents fear reduced automobile lanes will cause traffic congestion, pushing drivers into surrounding neighborhoods.

HOUSTON — Many neighbors in the Heights said they believe the city’s plans for more bike lanes on major streets will be a disaster.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said on Tuesday he wants to take a closer look before one particular project moves forward.

According to Rice University’s Kinder Institute, trails and bike lanes are important. Researchers assert that “more mobility options contribute to a healthier population and economy.”

Houston is close to meeting its goal of constructing at least 500 miles of trails and bike lanes by 2025. There are only 64 miles left. But the 1.5-mile stretch of planned bike lanes slated for the Heights is causing controversy.

“When you talk to people, they don’t even know about the plan,” Heights resident Stacey Seals said.

The Houston Bike Plan’s 11th Street Bikeway Proposal will reduce the number of automobile lanes, from four lanes to two. Designated bike lanes will be created to run alongside the traffic lanes.

“I don’t see any rationale for taking a major thoroughfare and putting in bike lanes,” certified professional engineer and resident Jerry Gauze said.

The group of Heights neighbors has been petitioning city leaders to re-think the plan.

“It can endanger us if we cut it down to one lane and push the traffic into the neighborhoods,” Houston City Council Member Michael Kubosh said.

Seals said a resident was recently killed in a neighborhood while walking his dog by a reckless driver.

“The children that have to walk the streets without sidewalks to school, mothers that are walking with their babies and their dogs. It’s just got to stop,” Seals said.

On Tuesday, the group took the issue to City Hall.

Council Member Abbie Kamin said her constituents want the bike lanes on 11th street.

“(There is) a large majority of support for this in the community,” Kamin said.

Turner, who alone has the authority to approve changes to the plans, called for a 30-day hold on the project to evaluate the concerns.

“Let me take ownership and let me take a look at it,” Turner said.