Houston Mayor Annise Parker joined hundreds of two-wheeled commuters during Bike to Work Day, and advocated for a more bikable city, according to CultureMap Houston:
Though National Bike to Work Day takes place in May, Houston’s sweltering summer will have already kicked in by then. On Friday, the city celebrated the occasion early, when Mayor Annise Parker and dozens of cyclists made the ride to City Hall from six official starting locations.
The groups converged at Hermann Square Park just after 8 a.m. to enjoy a post-ride breakfast (courtesy of Shipley’s Do-Nuts and Chick-fil-A), tune-ups (courtesy of Sun & Ski Sports and Bike Barn) and press conference (courtesy of the mayor).
“I have to confess, I’m not a daily bike rider,” Parker told the crowd. She also admitted to having some help from RevolutionE’s electric bicycle on her morning commute from Memorial Park.
The courtyard by the reflecting pool was full of bicycles, their riders wearing helmets and spandex. Parker made promises for better bikeability to a crowd that included the cycling team from her alma mater, Rice University, as well as members of the Ride Metro bike team.
Parker said that cyclists shouldn’t have to ride as a group to feel safe on Houston’s roads, and reinforced her commitment to create more off-road bike trails. An initiative to expand the Bayou Greenways and improve the connectivity of the existing hike and bike trail system will be put to the voters later this year.
“Let’s continue to bike, and make it safe for people to bike,” said Parker, before sending everyone off to work.
Houston has more than 300 miles of interconnected bikeway spread across 500 square miles, according to Click2Houston, but that hasn’t translated into a large percentage of bike commuters.
A 2010 survey by the ‘League of American Bicyclists’ found that only half a percent of Houston commuters get to work by bike, a ratio that has not seen any significant growth over the last 10 years. This compares to the 6% of commuters biking in Portland, Oregon, which has seen a staggering 238% increase in bicycle commuters from 10 years ago.
Group bike riding in Houston has grown more popular in recent years, although not for the purpose of commuting to work. At least five large groups are meeting regularly around the city, including Critical Mass, Ghost Mass, Sawyer Park Bike Club, Blue Line Bike Lab, and Counter Crawl.