HOUSTON - On a warm, and dry, Friday afternoon, it does not take long to find cyclists on their way to somewhere.
"It's not too bad," says cyclist Andrew Manelis, about the safety of riding the city's streets, "I ride my bike to work, or take the bus."
The endorsement is a qualified one. Federal statistics show 34 bicyclists were killed, in Houston, in 2020. The advocacy group, BikeHouston, points to TxDOT data that documents hundreds of cyclists hit by cars, in 2019 and 2020.
"The idea that bicyclists don't belong in the street, or space for bicyclists is not important, is frankly ridiculous," says BikeHouston executive director Joe Catrufo, who notes Houston has a lot of room to improve its bicycle infrastructure.
For years, narrow spaces along the sides of busy Houston roads have been designated bike lanes. The name can be a stretch, with the surfaces often littered with potholes and debris, running perilously close to traffic.
There is a plan for improvement, that was adopted by Houston City Council in 2017, that looks to expand a network of protected lanes that separate cyclists from other traffic.
The bike plan also looks to connect a widening network of hike and bike paths that provide hundreds of miles of safe access.
"It's not so much about convincing people to ride bikes," says Catrufo, "If the infrastructure is there, and the conditions are right for it, people will ride bikes."
Meanwhile, BikeHouston is in the process of reassessing what it considers 'legitimate' bike lanes in the city.
The group expects to discount those miles of narrow strips along the curbs, in favor of wider and protected lanes that average cyclists can depend on to travel safely.