Houston may get its first dedicated, on-street bike lane as early as October, as city officials prepare to convert one lane of Lamar Street downtown to a two-way cycling route connecting the popular Buffalo Bayou trails west of downtown to Discovery Green and points east.
The nearly three-quarter-mile path, from the edge of Sam Houston Park to the edge of Discovery Green, will be painted green and separated from the remaining three lanes of traffic by a barrier of striped plastic humps sometimes called “armadillos” or “zebras,” said Laura Spanjian, the city’s sustainability director.
Signals will be added at intersections for cyclists headed east on one-way westbound Lamar.
Michael Payne, executive director of Bike Houston, said the dedicated lane will be a crucial link to safely get cyclists from the Buffalo Bayou trails to the well-used Columbia Tap Trail east of downtown that runs past Texas Southern University. Construction is underway on a federal grant-funded project to link that trail to the George R. Brown Convention Center across from Discovery Green.
“The key here is that physical separation, which makes cyclists feel more comfortable, that their space is defined,” Payne said. “When you’re on a bike route you’re right out there with the traffic. The whole objective here for Houston is to develop infrastructure that makes people feel comfortable, safe and encourages them to get out of their houses and out of their cars and use their bicycles both for recreation and for transportation.”
Jeff Weatherford, who directs traffic operations for the city’s Department of Public Works and Engineering, said Lamar was chosen in part because the lane being converted is devoted to parking except during rush hours.