Keeping things in perspective

Narrow bike lane

I recently read an article about bicycle infrastructure and how widening a standard bike lane from a standard five feet to a more generous eight feet increased rider safety. And then I did a double take.

Five feet is a standard bike lane? In my neighborhood, the bike lanes (like the one above) are three feet wide, and often include dangerous dips for storm drains and the crumbling, uneven edge between roadway and curb surfaces. Sounds terrible right? Yes and no.

These lanes certainly deviate from what some advocates consider the ideal. But the truth is, in a city as car-centric as Houston, it’s amazing we have bike lanes at all.

In a city where homeowners won’t vote for a $12 a year property tax increase to cover the open grass drainage ditches in front of their half-million dollar town homes, the fact that money was spent to advance a mode of transportation as forward-thinking as bicycling is inspiring.

In fact, inner-loop Houston has an expanding network of hike and bike trails, bike lanes, designated bike paths and a growing number of bike racks at local retail.

All this is to say that we can always find something to complain about when it comes to the places we live. In most cities, it’s a pastime all its own. But while we work to make our cities more livable, it’s good to be thankful for the progress we’ve made.

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