Separated Cycle Paths: Who Asks the Cyclists?

Off The Beaten Path


In the discussion about separate or “protected” cycle tracks, it has been surprising that planners and decision makers don’t seem to want input from those who actually ride bikes.


In some cases, there is open disdain for those who have been cycling in North America for many years. Now that cycling is becoming popular, largely through the example and tireless efforts of these cyclists, we are labeled “a frustrating deterrent to mainstreaming cycling” on the popular “Copenhagenize” blog. The author even suggests that we hit our children, and insinuates that we prefer to mix with cars and trucks on freeways rather than ride on a separate path. (We don’t, the photo in the blog shows a location where a cyclepath actually makes sense.)

Those are extremes, but the tenor isn’t much different when you talk to many bicycle advocacy groups who have jumped onto the cycle path bandwagon.



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Cycling fatality on Memorial Drive and Houston’s need for Bicycle Infrastructure; A call to action

On the evening of Monday August 12th 2013, a cyclist was struck and killed by a motorist on the 6700 block of Memorial Drive in Houston, Texas. This is a tragic accident that took place illustrates the NEED for the City of Houston to take the implementation of Safe Bicycle Infrastructure across the city seriously.

Below is an image via Google Street-View of what Memorial Drive looks like near the location the accident that took place. There are three lanes of traffic in each direction with no area for cyclists to ride. The granite path on the right is a popular running trail dedicated to pedestrians. As you can see in the image, cyclists don’t have much room to ride safely with out coming within a safe passing distance of a motorist driving in the same lane.


Recently, the city of Houston passed a ‘Safe Passing’ ordinance requiring motorists to provide at least 3 feet between the vehicle and the cyclist when passing. Although this is shows the city is willing to promote bicycling safety though ‘quasi-judicial’ means, the city must take the next step and make the implementation of safe cycling infrastructure a number one priority.

Below is an image I took of an example of a dedicated bicycle lane in Copenhagen, Denmark. The creation of grade separated, elevated/dedicated lanes allow cyclists to have both a separate path to travel and also a physical separation between them and the motorists. There is no reason why the City of Houston cannot have similar styles of cycling infrastructure for people to more safely ride.

Memorial Drive has more than enough space in which the city can build dedicated bicycle lanes in each direction (such as is pictured below). If the city took cycling safety infrastructure seriously, tragedies such as what happened earlier this evening may not have taken place.


Dream9 Released; Setting a Legal Precedence

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Article 13. Section (2):

“Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”

According to many sources, members of the Dream9 group have been released from custody where they were held for several days in a privately owned Immigrant Detention Center in Arizona.

The question is does this set a legal precedence for international travel for those who are undocumented living in the United States. Currently, undocumented persons cannot travel internationally and be allowed to re-enter. But, with the events that are currently unfolding involving the #Dream9, this legal statute is being directly challenged and a new legal/administrative stature could be established.

Walking Down The Street; Poetic Expression from Istanbul and What To Do with Urban Form in the United States


Walking down the street,
I realize that I’m smiling.
And I smile even more
because I’m thinking
passers-by must think me
a bit funny in the head –
or, of course, that I’ve been drinking…

Walking through the streets of Istanbul is an amazing feeling. Cafe’s literally spill into the narrow streets, so overcrowded with dinner parties it becomes almost impossible to walk though.

The image presented below is just one example of a typical street in Istanbul where cafes, bars, and restaurants litter the urban landscape creating an extremely unique and welcoming aroma of joy and festivity. This image is of the Nevizade section located near Istikal Street close to Taksim in the center of Istnabul.


Why not have this image be of here in Richmond, VA or Houston, TX? A recent article publish by The Daily Beast, ranked Richmond the 7th most ‘Aspirational City’ in the United States. Taking some of the wonderful things that Istanbul has to offer such as its open street cafe culture and implementing them to areas of the city seeking revitalization is just one way the City of Richmond can use it’s ‘aspirational’ status to improve the urban landscape.

Recently the city of Richmond passed an ordinance allowing temporary patio dining in certain parts of the city (although the ordinance is still quite restricting). Richmond’s alleyways also offer excellent opportunities where the city can introduce a network of Istanbullu cafe scenes. Furthermore, the city is currently looking for proposals on what to do with the old 17th St. Farmer’s Market site in Shockoe Bottom which could potential be a great place for cafes and on street dining.

In my hometown of Houston, Texas, where advocacy towards pedestrianization of the urban environment is on the rise, could also look to Istanbul for inspiration. In the same Daily Beast article mentioned above, Houston, Texas ranked #3 as the nation’s most ‘aspirational’ city just behind the cities of Austin and New Orleans. With all these cities located next to one another some may call this part of the country the ‘Aspirational Corridor’.

In the past few weeks, there has been a call for establishing parts of the City of Houston as ‘car-free’ specifically in the Downtown Main Street corridor. Istanbul again could serve as a model in how the city should approach and design parts of the city to be car free or car-lite.

The final image below is of Istikal Street in Istanbul. One of the most pedestrian friendly avenues in Istanbul and a favorite place to gather for all Istanbullus. This street is very similar to what other large urban cities have across the world such as Mexico City, D.F.’s Madero Street which was recently converted into a pedestrian only avenue. The bottom most image is of me in Mexico City’s Madero Street. With some planning, this too may be what Downtown Houston’s Main Street Pedestrian corridor will soon look like…..