Looking to Houston — Yes, Houston — as a Model for Better Street Design

City leaders in Houston have proposed road diets throughout the central city. Photo: Wikipedia

Houston leaders have proposed putting the city’s wide-open streets on a diet. Photo: Wikipedia

The Houston Chronicle called it a “departure from what many consider the Houston model.” City leaders in this Texas metropolis want to scale back the space for cars in the central city to make room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes.

Patrick Kennedy at Network blog Walkable Dallas Fort Worth says it couldn’t be farther from what is happening where he lives in Dallas:

Houston is going to begin ‘dieting’ streets in their urban core in order to, and unabashedly mind you, make driving less convenient and other forms of movement safer and more convenient.

Houston’s wide, dangerous roads make it the seventh most-dangerous large city for pedestrians, according to last week’s Dangerous by Design report from Smart Growth America. Kennedy says Houston isn’t the only Sun Belt city with those problems, but it may be the first one to fix them:

Sun Belt cities are all the same because they have the same genetic formula. Rather than being defined by people and geography, they’re all defined by cars. That is because we’ve allowed traffic formulae to be the prime directive that governs uber alles.

The city is the platform for progress and expression, yet we’ve built anti-city. Houston, at least, seems serious about the 21st century.

The list of amendments to the city’s transportation plan still needs approval from the City Council. A vote is expected in September, according to the Chronicle.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Beyond DC says the city’s “most useless park” is a “parking lot in disguise.” Kevin Klinkenberg argues that part of the financial problem with bike-share is that it’s too cheap. And BikeWalkLee explains how one Florida city is trying to overcome the state’s status as most dangerous for walking.