It's municipal election high-season here in Houston. Early voting begins in 17 days. About 15% of us will actually vote, because too many Houstonians assume that all those campaign signs are just leftovers from 2014. Those of us who do vote and are actually paying attention have been comparing candidates and discussing our positions on the usual Issues That Matter to Houstonians: crime, potholes, traffic, and weather.
We've at least made peace with the fact that city government can't really do anything about the weather. It does have the power to mitigate the effects of the weather: plant more trees, install more awnings, enclose the entire city in an enormous air-conditioned dome, etc.
The City and our Metropolitan Transit Authority have made great strides recently toward making it easier to get around without a personally owned motor vehicle. The amount of MetroRail track has tripled; the bus system makes more sense; there are more and better bicycle lanes and hike-n-bike trails (and they're working on getting more of those trails connected into a proper network).
Unfortunately, the trend toward more housing and jobs inside Loop 610 is making more of us kvetch about the Big Issue of traffic. The Inner Loop may be 1/16th as population-dense as Manhattan, but it still gets Manhattan-style gridlock in its four business districts: Downtown, Uptown, Greenway Plaza, and the Texas Medical Center. Even Midtown, Montrose, and the Museum District are not immune.
Here's my latest kvetch, adapted from a Facebook post:
Big picture: Houston can't keep putting more stuff inside 610 without major improvements in transportation infrastructure AND motorists switching to public transit. The main reason the NEW! IMPROVED! Metro bus network hasn't really improved the situation is that the buses get stuck in increasingly snarly auto traffic, because too many drivers are too lazy to switch.
We've grown accustomed to freeways resembling parking lots, but now Downtown streets are getting just as bad between 5 & 6 pm.
To my amazement, here's one spot that's getting observably worse by the week: traffic on Richmond Avenue eastbound at 5 pm weekdays now backs up from Montrose all the way past Mandell, sometimes as far as Dunlavy. That's a kilometer-long line of vehicles.
Another plum spot is Greenbriar at Rice. I get to observe this from my bicycle en route from work to Rice Village.
If the City doesn't want to put a left-turn arrow up for the southbounders, it needs to encourage them to turn onto Sunset instead of Rice. This would actually make their trip shorter, going due east on Sunset instead of east-northeast on Rice. Check the map.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.