Houston has received significant media recognition over the past year as the new it city. Professionals young and old have flocked here. Construction companies have been unable to keep up with the demand. But what has been most pronounced has been the focus on Houston as a livable city. Publications highlighted Houston’s restaurant and art scene and its relative affordability. To the extent that the articles highlighted any negative aspects to Houston it’s been transportation-Houston is a commuter city built around the automobiles with a traffic problem. And while true to an extent, the future looks much more diverse.
Part of the reason for this change is pragmatic. Demographic trends indicate that younger Americans are foregoing driving to greater degrees than any previous generation since the rise of the automobile. While the driving was once seen as ticket to freedom, for millennials a car is simply a cost. With the rise of alternative forms of transportation such as Uber, millennials just aren’t driving as much.
This year alone, new MetroRail lines have come on line, connecting the East End and University areas with downtown. And recently the Metro Board of Directors approved the reimaging of the city’s bus routes. Now most Houstonians will be near buses that run at least every 15 minutes. And the routes will no longer operate on the hub and spoke pattern that required transferring in downtown regardless of where the rider was going. Finally, and perhaps most revolutionary for Houston is the creation of the first on-street protected bike lane. Connecting the almost-completed Buffalo Bayou trails on the west and the Columbia Tap Rail to Trail Line on the East, the bike lane will allow riders from the East End, Third Ward, the Heights, and Montrose to easily traverse the city without having to share a street with automobiles.
All of these changes are welcome. Each reduces the reliance on the automobile and its risks of injury. By giving cyclists their own lane, the evidence from other cities indicates that automobile-bike collisions go down. Likewise, increasing transit options can reduce the number of drunk and distracted drivers from the road. But while progress is made, much is still left to accomplish.
If you, or someone you love, has been injured in an automobile collision, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.