What would a Vision Zero project look like? Are there existing projects in Houston that might align with Vision Zero?
GULFTON – HILLCROFT AVENUE
Building on Mayor Turner’s Complete Communities program, the Gulfton community has partnered with the City and others to design and implement Vision Zero-aligned improvements for Hillcroft Avenue, a road that presents safety and accessibility challenges.
Redesigning Hillcroft Avenue for the safe movement of all road users includes:
- traffic calming, landscaping, and public space to gather
- improved bus stop placement and amenities
- protected bicycle lanes
- widened 8’ sidewalks
- improved lighting
- more shade trees
- a new traffic signal at Dashwood Drive
- safe crossings and plaza space at High Star Drive/Westward Street
- 10’ shared-use path on Westward Street
Homes, schools, services and shopping are abundant on both sides of Hillcroft, yet travel there is dangerous. There is a lot of space for cars, people driving exceed the speed limit, and there is a lack of safe and visible crossings. Data show that Hillcroft has double the crash rate as similar streets in Texas cities. Additionally, there are numerous incidents where people are nearly hit trying to reach their destination, making it scary to walk, bike, drive, and take transit.
Streets like Hillcroft invite dangerous drivers into neighborhoods. This was made painfully clear to the Gulfton community in August 2016 when four-year-old Mohammed Ali Abdallah was struck and killed by a driver as he walked with his family on the first day of school.
The new vision for Hillcroft Avenue is aligned with Houston’s Vision Zero program. As recommended in Gulfton’s Complete Communities Action Plan, it prioritizes safety and accessibility in street design for people of all ages and abilities. The plan was created in collaboration between the community, Mayor Turner, Houston Public Works, Together for Safer Roads, Connect Community and institutions like YES Prep, Jane Long Academy and Rice University’s Kinder Institute.
In 2019, local high school students participated in a STEM-based summer internship program and led the community through a process to reimagine safety, mobility and public space along Hillcroft. The program was coordinated by Connect Community, and the students were mentored by professional engineers at TEI (Traffic Engineers Inc.) and TxRx Labs. The final report, Gulfton’s Main Street, presented the community’s vision for a safe Hillcroft Avenue.
The community sees a transformed avenue: from an eight lane, car-only throughway to a community boulevard with safe sidewalks and pedestrian crossings, public plazas, protected bike lanes and safer access to transit. The plan was published in September 2019 by Houston Public Works, Connect Community, TEI and TxRx. Opportunities for community engagement will take place over the summer 2020 and project work is set to begin in early Fall.
This Vision Zero-aligned project will improve road safety for people who live, work and travel through Gulfton everyday. It is data-driven and informed by TxDOT and Houston-Galveston Area Council crash analysis, Houston City Planning reports, Kinder Institute studies and Transoft Solutions driver behavior analytics. The transformation from a roadway dominated by cars to a street inviting for people of all ages on foot, bicycle and riding the bus is especially meaningful for a community where 40-percent of the residents do not drive.
The Gulfton community’s work shows how Vision Zero can not only save lives, it can open opportunities by creating access. It can help families feel truly safe and at home in their neighborhood, regardless of how they choose to get around. Houston Vision Zero will provide our communities a safer today and healthier tomorrow.
SMITH/BAGBY/HOLMAN: Addressing one of the most dangerous intersections for people walking and biking
Look for these improvements in the coming months (summer-fall 2020):
- Creation of a median refuge for people walking and biking
- Removal of the south bound lane on Smith to allow for median refuge
- Shortened distance to walk/bike across on Smith
- New, wider curb ramps to increase space for people walking and biking
- Slower vehicle turns onto Holman from Smith been
- New trail pavement on the east side of Smith to create a comfortable waiting area
TOP 12 MOST DANGEROUS INTERSECTIONS FOR PEOPLE WALKING AND BIKING
In September 2018 and January 2019, the City of Houston partnered with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), BikeHouston, LINK Houston, and METRO to assess the 12 most dangerous intersections for people walking and biking. These intersections were identified in partnership with LINK Houston and BikeHouston, using both crash data and community feedback to determine which were the most dangerous. Criteria were based on a variety of factors, such as the number of people walking and biking who were killed at intersections and where people felt unsafe.
- West at Airline
- Fannin at Pierce
- Washington at Patterson
- 11th at Nicholson
- Bellaire from Ranchester
- Bellaire at Gessner
- Long Point at Gessner
- Taylor at Spring and MKT Trail
- Shepherd at Allen Parkway and Shepherd at Memorial Parkway
- Hawthorne at Spur 527 and Holman
- Fondren at West Bellfort
- Bissonnet at Wilcrest
Of note: The intersections are listed in order of assessment. Intersections 1-7 were assessed in September 2018 and intersections 8-12 were assessed in January 2019.