Mayor Parker Wants Houston's Streets More Accessible To Pedestrians And Cyclists

Houston's Bagby Street is designed as a pedestrian-friendly mixed-use neighborhood
Mayor Annise Parker is unveiling a new initiative designed to make Houston's streets accessible to everyone, and that includes walkers, cyclists, and people who use mobility devices. Parker laid out her plan as a street in Midtown was honored for sustainable development.

"Houston streets can and should accommodate the needs of all users, not just those behind the wheel." 

Parker says she's drafted an executive order that lays out what's called a "complete streets" policy. She's planning to sign it once it's reviewed by the City Council.

Parker says the executive order will serve as a blueprint for future street work, creating thoroughfares with lanes for bikes, and easily-accessible sidewalks for pedestrians and transit users.

The policy also takes into consideration things like trees, to help keep the neighborhood cooler, as well as benches, green space, and drainage improvements.

Bagby Street in Midtown
Bagby Street in Midtown Houston is the state's first Greenroads project

"Now frankly it's always been possible to do a complete street in the city of Houston, but the default has always been, let's get those cars moving. Now we want the default to be a complete street and anything different from that to be something that has to be an exception."

Parker made her announcement on Midtown's Bagby Street, which was redesigned as the state's first Greenroads Project. Bagby features a mix of business and residential development designed to be pedestrian-friendly. There are newly-planted trees, along with benches, lighting, and rain gardens that facilitate drainage.

City Councilwoman Ellen Cohen represents the neighborhood.

"Since the announcement of the project we've already experienced several economic advantages including approximately $25 million in private development, a 20% rental market increase."

And the Bagby Street project is getting attention from outside the city.

The Greenroads Foundation has awarded the project its Silver Certification, for its low impact development techniques and environmentally-friendly elements. The foundation's Jeralee Anderson says the organization looked all aspects of Bagby Street's design. That included building materials.

Rain gardens
Rain gardens facilititate drainage on Bagby Street in Midtown Houston

"There's 20 percent of what's called fly ash, which is a waste product of coal production. And they put that in the concrete, it makes it stronger, it lasts longer. And that means as a taxpayer you're not paying for maintenance or construction delays, and waiting for someone to rebuild the street."

City officials say the Planning and Public Works Departments will oversee the complete streets program along with input from Metro.

Bio photo of Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

Gail Delaughter joined KUHF in October 2008 as Saturday morning news anchor and host. A native of New Orleans and a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, Gail has extensive experience in Texas and Louisiana as a radio news reporter and morning show anchor and co-host...