Heights - River Oaks - Montrose Edition | March 2022

Between 2017 and 2021, an average of 37 car crashes took place on 11th Street per year between Shepherd Drive and Michaux Street. As plans for bike lanes are being devised, planners said improvements will reduce pedestrian danger. Slowing traffic on 11th Street

Total crashes per year on 11th Street between Shepherd Drive and Michaux Street:

The risk of a pedestrian fatality or serious injury is: 18% when a car is driving 20 mph

Department. Fields said road diets, when imple- mented properly, will not have the negative effect on the traffic that some might think. When looking at 11th Street, Houston planners found one lane in each direction could accommo- date traffic with the exception of about 45 minutes on weekdays, he said. Not only is the unused space a bad use of the city’s right of way, Fields said it also contributes to a speeding prob- lem on 11th Street, where the average speed is 38.5 mph despite the speed limit being 30 mph. “Drivers drive faster when there is more space that is not being filled up,” he said. For the $115 million Shepherd and Durham project, lanes will decrease from four to three, according to Sherry Weesner, president of the Memori- al-Heights Redevelopment Authority, which is carrying out and funding the project. Once completed, there will be improved turn lanes and drainage, 6- to 10-foot-wide sidewalks for pedestri- ans and 6-foot-wide bikeways. Two separate studies—one by the redevelopment authority and one by the city of Houston—found the project would improve traffic flow despite the road diet, Weesner said, because it also involves the strategic implementation of turning lanes. “This is one of those rare but won- derful places inHoustonwhere redoing the road ... improves traffic through- put, improves bike facilities, improves pedestrian facilities and improves the transit on the street,” she said. Buildingmomentum When Houston planners met last fall to determine what bike projects should be taken up next, they landed on three, Fields said: the Irvington Boulevard corridor from downtown to outside of Loop 610; a bike network in the Gulf- ton area; and the Washington Avenue


50% when a car is driving 30 mph

39 41


77% when a car is driving 40 mph


Drivers on 11th street go an average of 38.5 mph, even though the speed limit is 30 mph.

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021


Reduction in vehicle lanes: Has a natural effect of encouraging drivers to slow down Pedestrian refuge islands: Allow for more safety while crossing roads Restricted left-turn lanes: Will go into effect at key intersections using concrete medians Pedestrian crashes are predicted to go down by 56% on 11th Street once improvements are finished. PROPOSED SOLUTIONS


smarter about roadway planning, Raschke said. “The bigger you get, you start getting into the problem of traffic congestion getting worse and worse,” she said. “At some point, you don’t have enough space to widen the road without taking buildings away.” Although Raschke said Houston will always be an auto-centric city, bike lanes can bring a sense of community to an area, a sentiment Cutrufo said he agreed with. Cutrufo recalled a recent walk he went on with his children through Montrose, during which he discovered the record shop Soundwaves for the first time. Experiences like that, Cut- rufo said, are much less likely while driving. “When you’re traveling by bike, you’re taking in the world at a much slower pace,” he said. “You’re more likely to take in and notice the fine- grained nature of a city.” Evidence is also growing that, as the city builds better bike paths, more peo- ple ditch their cars where the option is available, Fields said. “Any time we put out a safe, pro- tected bike facility, one people are comfortable using… they get used very well,” Fields said.

Infrastructure Washington Avenue—where an H-E-B recently opened—has not kept up with land uses, Fields said. on “It’s not a place we think people should be driving fast to get through, or to get out,” he said. “It’s really a place we think people want to get to, instead.” Now that it has been identified as a priority project, Fields said the city is working with the Houston-Galveston Area Council, which has agreed to pay for consulting work that is expected to begin this summer. The 11th Street Bikeway has gar- nered supporters, but some residents have decried the reduction in car lanes, saying it could lead to more cars going down small neighborhood streets to avoid traffic. Some business owners on 11th Street also said they had safety concerns. “I’m concerned with traffic flow, especially during busy seasons when there’s specifically extra traffic around our business,” said Zach Buchanan, chief operating officer of Buchanan’s Native Plants, who emphasized that he is not against the proposed plan. “I think that what’s concerning is that there are so many unknowns, and it’s all just speculation as towhat will actu- ally be the end result.” The city’s population growth has left it little choice when it comes to being

Going on a diet

Plans for 11th Street call for going on a “road diet,” which involves reducing the number of car lanes to make more room for bike lanes and reduce speeds.









For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

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