Research and discussion for citizens and decision makers

Jay Blazek Crossley

Our road design is deadly

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Every year more than 200 people die in murders in Houston — a sad statistic known to the people of Sunnyside, just south of the 610 Loop. Many hope Mayor Sylvester Turner’s recent efforts will begin to turn this tide and make Sunnyside’s streets safe from gun deaths.

Every year about the same number of people die in traffic crashes in the City of Houston, a sad statistic also known to the people of Sunnyside. There, on April 3, Wilma Montgomery, a 67-year-old grandmother, died trying to cross Cullen at Wenda Street. It’s a dangerous intersection designed with one misguided goal: speeding up cars.

According to a KHOU story this week, residents of Sunnyside are tired of people being hit trying to cross Cullen: “This is like the Indianapolis 500 during the day,” resident Terry Duhon said. “Like a race track.”

Crossing that street is dangerous and difficult even for the able-bodied.

“We observed a group of kids crossing Cullen after waiting around 15 minutes,” said KHOU reporter John Littleberry. “Then we watched as two small children showed up. About 20 minutes went by before one of them darted across. The other one continued to wait until we stopped traffic and guided her across.”

Police investigate a crash at 8900 Cullen, Monday, March 15. Photo: Metro Video Photo: Metro Video Police investigate a crash at 8900 Cullen, Monday, March 15.
A community activist has collected dozens of signatures on a petition calling for a stoplight.

Nowhere in the city’s PlanHouston do you find a goal of encouraging people to drive faster through our neighborhoods. On no recent Sunday did you hear the preacher wish that it took 45 seconds less to drive through Sunnyside.

Yet the design of our streets and the allocation of our funding continues to prioritize the speed of driving over safety, health, commerce, development, and the basic comfort of walking and biking in the neighborhoods of Houston.

Following Mayor Annise Parker’s Complete Streets executive order, her administration made significant progress. Two significant departments — Public Works and Engineering; and Planning and Development — changed processes, codes, and design guidelines with the intention of making streets safer.

Full Story: Houston’s mean streets: Our city’s road design is killing people
Source: Houston Chronicle Grey Matters, April 11, 2016

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