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May 09, 2013

Houston Passes Ordinance to Protect Cyclists,
Others from Vehicular Traffic
New Law Defines Space Needed to Maintain Traffic Safety for all Road Users

Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council this week unanimously approved an ordinance to protect Houston's cyclists and other vulnerable road users by requiring cars and other motor vehicles to keep a separation of more than three feet while passing, and trucks or commercial vehicles to keep a separation of more than six feet. The ordinance is effective immediately.

Vulnerable road users are defined as a walkers or runners; the physically disabled, such as someone in a wheelchair; a stranded motorist or passengers; highway construction, utility or maintenance workers; tow truck operators; cyclists; moped, motor-driven cycle and scooter drivers; or horseback riders.

In addition to requiring safe passing and trailing distances from vulnerable road users, this ordinance prohibits any motor vehicle occupant from throwing or projecting any object or substance at or against them.

BikeHouston, several state and local leaders and other groups advocated and/or voiced support for this ordinance, including: Senator Rodney Ellis, BikeTexas, AARP, Better Houston, Bikin' Babes, Citizen Transportation Coalition, Houston Access to Urban Sustainability Project, Houston Tomorrow, Northwest Cycling Club and Richmond Rail.

Similar ordinances have already been enacted by Austin, Fort Worth and San Antonio.

The Safe Passing ordinance is another initiative, led and/or supported by Mayor Parker, to encourage more cycling in Houston. Others include the launch of Houston Bike Share last month, closing gaps in Houston's bike trail system; the voter-approved Bayou Greenways initiative; and approval of HB200, which will allow Houston's utility easements to be used for hike and bike trails.

For more information on cycling in Houston visit http://bikeways.publicworks.houstontx.gov/.

 

Amendments Adopted to Increase Minority/Women-Owned/
Small Business Contracts Citywide
Citywide Goal Increases to 34%

Houston City Council has approved enhancements to the City's 30-year old goal-oriented Minority/Women-owned/Small Business Enterprise (MWSBE) contracting program. Due to council's action, women-owned businesses will be reinstated to the program, the citywide goal for construction contracts will increase from 14 percent to 34 percent and the participation requirements for disabled veterans will be relaxed. The changes are the end result of a new study comparing the number of MWSBE firms utilized on city contracts to the number of companies available in the marketplace.

The City of Houston implemented its MWSBE program in 1984. It remained largely unchanged until 2009 when a lawsuit required the removal and replacement of women owned businesses with small Business Enterprises until a comprehensive construction industry disparity study could be performed. The results of the study completed in April 2012 indicated a need for doubling of the citywide MWSBE construction contracts goal.

In addition to the reinstatement of women owned firms and the higher goal for construction contracts, OBO is implementing the following procedures to enhance the program's effectiveness.

  • Review the MWSBE Program every five years
  • Expand the geographic boundaries to include two new counties: San Jacinto and Austin Counties
  • Revise the Good Faith Efforts Policy
  • Require contractors to submit their plans for meeting the Good Faith Efforts at the time of bid submission
  • Implement a three-year MWSBE certification
  • Standardize department accountability for monitoring of contract compliance and goal waivers
  • Utilize the Disabled Veterans definition of the Department of Defense or Veteran Affairs when considering disabled veterans for inclusion in the Persons with Disabilities Business Enterprise portion of the program.

Only certified MWSBE firms are eligible to fulfill goal requirements on city contracts. City of Houston Certification is also accepted by the following agencies:

  • METRO
  • Port of Houston Authority
  • Houston Independent School District
  • Houston Community College
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Houston Housing Authority
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
  • Texas Department of Transportation
  • Airport Transportation Agencies Statewide

Visit http://www.houstontx.gov/obo/certification.html for more information on certification.

 


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Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Mike Sullivan • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green