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Houston Police Launch Downtown Mobility Initiative

June 3, 2005 -- The Houston Police Department's Special Operation Division has created a Downtown Mobility Initiative to address observed violations of pedestrian,
bicycle, and motor vehicle laws in the Downtown area. Through education and enforcement, officers assigned to the Special Operations Division will work to ensure that the public complies with the transportation laws to assure their safety and the safety of others who share the Downtown roadways and sidewalks. While the primary focus of this public safety campaign will be on educating the public with information and verbal warnings, citation enforcement will occur when the violation is flagrant or when warnings do not appear to be effective. The goal of the program is to increase safety among pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers as they travel in and through the Downtown area. Officers with the Metro Police Department have produced brochures that will be given to pedestrians as they walk in the downtown area and are working jointly with HPD on this initiative. "The focus is on public safety and we at Metro want to ensure we do everything we can to inform the public about how to do just that," said Captain Milton O'Gilvie of the Metro Police Department.

Recent growth in the Downtown area has contributed significantly to increased pedestrian, bicyclist, and motorized traffic. Many people who now live, work, and visit the Downtown are crossing in mid-block or against the traffic signal to get across streets; bicyclists are riding on the sidewalks or against traffic; and motorists are speeding and running red lights. Public safety as a whole is served best when all aspects of mobility -- pedestrians, motorists, and cyclists adhere to the laws governing their form of transportation. "A ticket can not keep a pedestrian from being hit by a car or truck, that's why the education phase of this program is so important," said Captain Mary Lentschke of the HPD Special Operations Division.

Again, the main goal of the program is to increase safety among pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers as they travel in and through the Downtown area. The objectives of the program are simple:

Provide mobility safety information to all the downtown stakeholders via email, websites, and printed information (brochures, pamphlets, etc.) The information would include safety tips and applicable city ordinances governing pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists in the downtown area.

Enforce observed violations through verbal warnings and issuance of citations.

Educate downtown businesses and citizen groups through community service program requests. Officers will be utilized on foot, while others would be in marked police cars
to assist with bicycle and motorist enforcement. All officers would be assigned to monitor downtown mobility during their shift and educate or write citations when warranted.

7,045 total pedestrians observed -- 25% (1,756) were in violation of pedestrian ordinances

The majority of violations occurred during afternoon rush hour (53.5%) followed by the lunchtime crowd (29.5%). The remaining 17% occurred during the morning rush hour.

The overtime emphasis placed on the Downtown Mobility Initiative would begin on June 13 and continue until June 30, 2005 (18 days).

The public can access information about the Dowtown Mobility Initiative and mobility related ordinances and laws on the website www.downtownstreets.com

Additionally, we have already started to educate our downtown businesses, residents and citizen groups on their mobility related responsibilities.(Downtown Property Managers, Business PIP program, Bicycle couriers, Wortham Center employees).

Anyone interested in having a presentation for their group or organization -- or if they want further information on the Downtown Mobility Initiataive -- can call the Special Operations Division at 832-394-000.

Problematic pedestrian intersections in the downtown area during morning rush hour, lunchtime, and evening rush hour are:

Main @ Lamar, San Jacinto @ Preston, Travis @ St. Joseph, Main @ Preston, Louisiana @ Polk, Main @ Rusk, Smith @ Walker, Louisiana @ Lamar, Main @ Dallas.

AW 6-3-05

For additional information, please contact the HPD Public Affairs Division at 713-308-3200.