Houston bicyclists have scored a major win, thanks to a recent vote by Houston City Council, as a new ordinance prohibits parking motor vehicles in dedicated bike lanes.
This comes after continued efforts and lobbying by biking activists to make the city more bike-friendly. That spurred the Houston Bike Plan, adopted in 2017, in which the City of Houston committed to making a more accessible, bike-friendly city by 2027. Approval of the ordinance also strengthens the City’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
The ordinance approved by City Council will not require posted signage as it has previously, according to a press release. Importantly, the order will not apply to on-street bikeways where travel lanes are shared by vehicles and bicyclists and where the city permits on-street parking, such as Washington Avenue, per the release. These bike lanes are defined as a portion of the roadway separated from vehicle traffic with striping and/or physical barriers for the exclusive use of bicyclists.
Citations will carry a $100 fine; offenders have the option to take a safety class to waive a first violation. A driver in violation must see a hearing officer in order to take the course.
“We have listened to bicyclists throughout our city, and we are taking this step to protect them and keep the lanes clear for everyone to enjoy,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner in a statement. “The ordinance is an opportunity to promote safety and educate those who park in dedicated bicycle lanes without realizing how it impedes access. Together, we can balance the needs of drivers and bicyclists in our city.”