What is BikeHouston?
We are a nonprofit organization working to make Houston more bike-friendly. We are doing this by uniting Houstonians that ride bikes, or that would like to ride bikes, behind one voice and asking for change. We are a funding partner of the Houston Bike Plan, which is being managed by the City of Houston. This will be the blueprint for future bikeway connections, corridors, and the growth of the overall bikeway network. This plan is in the second stage of review. Please take their survey and provide your feedback at houstonbikeplan.org. We were able to co-fund this plan due to our ability to leverage our membership base to secure grant funding. If you are not already, join us as a member at level comfortable to you at bikehouston.org/membership. We also have a volunteer membership option.
Tell us about the BikeHouston Bike Valet program.
BikeHouston Bike Valet is a service we offer to help people store their bikes in a convenient and secure manner while they go to an event, shop, etc for a few hours. We have our own portable bike racks and assign each bike a number so that we are sure that the correct person is getting the correct bike back. We have volunteers and/or staff present at all times. This is a free service for users.
How did BikeHouston start offering Bike Valet?
Bike Valet has been used around the country by other bicycle advocacy nonprofit organizations and even as a private business. Historically, we have offered this service at Sunday Streets and other events where large amounts of people may be commuting by bike. Our portable bike racks are new and our system has evolved somewhat, but the idea is the same. We want to make riding a bike easier and more convenient for all people in Houston.
Who uses Bike Valets?
Bike Valet is most utilized when in immediate proximity to the event or attraction that people are going to. Even being a block or two away from a venue/event is too far. It has to be front and center so that it is more convenient and visible for people on bikes. Anyone can use this service and it is free.
What are the benefits of bike commuting?
There are many reasons to commute by bike. It is healthy, environmentally-friendly, and makes sense economically. Depending on where you are commuting to/from, it may even be more convenient and faster than driving a car. Some people commute to relieve stress. The average cost of owning a car in the United States is about $8,600 a year, including gas and maintenance. A good portion of commutes in Houston are made by single occupancy vehicles traveling less than three miles. Three miles is a leisurely 20 minute bike ride. Why not just ride a bike?
What can Houston do to promote biking and protect its bike riders?
Traditionally, Houston has been known as a car-dependent city, as many others in the United States. Over the past 5-10 years, American cities have started to realize that they need to start designing cities for people rather than motorized vehicles. Instead of highways and streets with 4+ lanes cutting through dense downtown and other neighborhoods, urban planners have started to prioritize vibrant communities that have more transportation options such as biking, walking, and public transit. It’s good for business and for attracting a high-caliber workforce. This means more space, more business, and streets that are designed around what the speed limit actually is. For example, narrower lanes on a 30 mph street with a high quality 6+ foot wide bike lane and wider sidewalks makes biking and walking more attractive and safe options. More people on bikes helps to educate people in cars of their presence and movements, creating a safer atmosphere for all road users. This doesn’t mean that commuting time will increase for people in cars; it may actually mean that it decreases due to fewer stops at lights and a more fluid movement of people (we all see people hammer on the gas pedal only to stop in the next block at a red light). These types of projects are being prioritized in the Houston Bike Plan. Go to houstonbikeplan.org to take a survey and leave feedback.
What will BikeHouston be doing at Earth Day Houston?
We will be offering our signature Bike Valet and talking with folks about riding bikes in Houston. We will have printed material on what your rights are as a person on a bike as well as Houston bike maps. If you are a person that rides bikes or someone that would like to ride on safe streets, we need you as a member. We have considerable momentum with the Houston Bike Plan being finalized and need to continue growing our membership to get the plan built. Please join as a member online at bikehouston.org/membership, or in-person at Earth Day. Five years from now when the priority projects in the plan are built, and ten years from now when we have an expansive bikeway network that makes Houston a world-class destination, don’t you want to know that you played a part in this transformation?
What can bike riders at Earth Day Houston expect?
Expect a safe and convenient place to leave your bike while you enjoy the activities at Earth Day Houston. We also hope that everyone that arrives on a bike rides away after learning something new about their own safety and the evolution of Houston.
Thanks for a great interview Will! You can catch BikeHouston, their Bike Valet, and all the fun at Earth Day Houston on Saturday, April 16 at Sam Houston Park downtown. We encourage you to contact BikeHouston with any questions or concerns at [email protected]. Check out their website at bikehouston.org.