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.