HOUSTON - For this year's National Bike to Work Day, high gas prices might have prompted some people to give it a go. However, a new study of bicycle accidents suggests there's a lot of room to make Houston streets safer.
The findings come from car insurance savings app, Jerry, which looked at Census and National Highway Transportation Safety data to show Houston had the fourth-highest rate of fatal cycling crashes, over the last decade.
For cyclists, the annual ride to Houston city hall, for Bike to Work Day, is a great demonstration of what's possible for those who want to turn to two wheels to get around.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) says, in Houston, 2.7% of commuters are walking or riding their bikes to work. It can be a dangerous proposition.
In 2020, 31 cyclists were killed on Houston streets, and the bike advocacy group BikeHouston has mapped hundreds of injuries and fatalities of the last two years.
BikeHouston executive director Joe Cutrufo says it's an ongoing challenge.
"A lot of folks would love to ride a bike more, but we just lack the infrastructure for them to feel safe doing so," he said.
Cutrufo however, does point to improvements, especially inside the 610 Loop, where dedicated and protected lanes are being added for cyclists. There's also the intersection of Sunset and Main, near Rice University, which was redesigned after two cyclists were killed by drivers.
Increasing traffic and driver indifference, in some cases, to too much for some. Jack Gutweiler and his wife are avid cyclists, and they've discussed the wisdom and safety of setting out on the roads.
"The question of being on the roads with vehicles has gotten to be a bigger and bigger concern," says Gutweiler.
Joe Cutrufo says it's a concern, for him, too.
"Houston can be one of America's most bike-friendly cities, but we need to invest in infrastructure; we need to invest in safe streets; and we need to make sure people can get where they need to go on a bike, not just on a car," he says.
Houston has a long-term plan for 1,800 miles of so-called 'high-comfort' bike lanes: bike paths, well-marked, and protected lanes to separate cyclists from drivers. It's a start, for improving safety, along with cyclists and drivers following the rules to coexist when and where their paths inevitably cross.