Pedestrian-Friendly Houston

The City of Houston is set to make changes to its planning guidelines in an effort to make new light rail corridors more pedestrian friendly. Laurie Johnson reports.

Whether you're a supporter or opponent of light rail, it's coming to a neighborhood near you.

Suzy Hartgrove in Houston's Planning and Development Department says up to now the rules haven't changed for building and sidewalk requirements around the new light rail lines.

"For instance in many of the areas we have a traditional 25-foot set back. This will allow for reduced set back and the buildings to become closer to the street, but yet creating a six-foot mandatory pedestrian zone or clear space so that people can walk unimpeded to the station."

Houston isn't exactly the most pedestrian-friendly city. But Hartgrove says it's time to start incorporating these ideas now as the city's landscape changes.

"We think over time with the increased population growth that Houston's anticipated to see that you're going to see a lot more dense development and a lot of that will naturally gravitate toward areas where there is transit available. We wanted to give people the ability or the choice that they can walk to a station without having to get in their car and drive somewhere at that point."

The new ordinance will also call for new developments to use certain kinds of fencing, front-facing windows and lighting to make the areas around the light rail lines safer and more inviting.

Councilmembers will vote on the ordinance tomorrow.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...