Mayor Annise Parker today announced the City and BikeHouston are joining forces to launch a major bike safety campaign to enforce and educate motorists and cyclists about the existing Safe Passing Ordinance, as well as create a Bicycle Master Plan for the City.
“As the name of this program implies, the goal is to end cycling fatalities,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “Whether on a bike or behind the wheel, we have to abide by the rules of the road and learn how to share the road safely. Unfortunately, a spate of recent bicycle fatalities on Houston streets indicates there is much work to be done in this area. As a first step, I am dedicating $50,000 toward the cost of a Bicycle Master Plan that will guide our future decisions regarding placement of dedicated on-street bike lanes and infrastructure.”
City initiatives such as Houston Bike Share and trail expansions have encouraged more cycling. Those numbers are expected to increase as Bayou Greenways 2020 projects are built and the City implements its new Complete Streets approach and Sunday Streets HTx.
“BikeHouston believes today’s steps will help make our city a safer place to cycle and an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” said Michael Payne, Executive Director of BikeHouston. “By investing in safe bikeways and setting specific targets to increase cycling, our city’s leader’s will become our country’s leaders in dealing with the challenge of creating healthy, economically sustainable communities which attract the best companies and employees.”
As part of the enforcement component of the campaign, the Houston Police Department has instructed officers to ticket drivers who violate the City’s new Safe Passing Ordinance and cyclists that disregard their responsibilities to obey traffic laws. The stepped up enforcement includes undercover sting operations along roadways popular for cycling. The Safe Passing Ordinance mandates at least three feet of distance when passing and at least a six foot buffer when behind a bicyclist or other vulnerable road user. HPD has produced a PSA to help educate the public about the ordinance. The PSA will be available to disperse through television, radio, internet, YouTube, and social media sites.
“I want to ensure everyone feels safe on Houston’s street,” said Mayor Parker. “By working together we can become one of the most bicycle friendly cities in the nation.”
The Mayor’s Office will work closely with HPD, the Planning Department, Public Works and Engineering, the Municipal Courts and BikeHouston on the campaign.
Important Lifesaving Tips for Drivers and Cyclists
Lifesavers for drivers:
1. Follow the law. Speeding and driving under the influence put lives at risk.
2. Motor on, cell phone off. No texting while driving. It can wait, Houston!
3. Give cyclists enough room. Houston law requires 3 feet or more.
4. Intersections require special attention. Always scan carefully before proceeding.
5. Never open a car door without looking for passing traffic.
Lifesavers for cyclists:
1. Follow the law. Cyclists have the same rights and duties as drivers. Always ride with traffic, in the right lane closest to the curb, unless needed to use the left lane for a left turn. Stop when required.
2. Be predictable. Make intentions clear to everyone on the road. Ride in a straight line and don’t swerve between cars. Signal and check before changing lanes.
3. Be extremely visible. Use bright white lights on the front of the bicycle and bright red lights and reflectors. Bright, reflective clothing should be worn.
4. Think ahead. Plan your route carefully to avoid dangerous streets. Narrow, busy or streets with fast speed limits are particularly dangerous. Watch for car doors being opened, road hazards and drivers’ next moves.
5. Be Ready. Check that tires are properly inflated, brakes are working, the chain is running smoothly and quick release levers are closed. Leave the earplugs and mobile phone off while cycling. Fewer distractions and the ability to listen will reduce risk substantially. Always wear a helmet.
Additional motorist and cyclist safety information can be found at www.houstontx.gov and www.greenhoustontx.gov.