IS HOUSTON READY FOR WALKABLE URBANISM?
The answer from Dr. Stephen Klineberg from his recent “Houston Area Surveys,” is a resounding yes! When asking city-dwellers of all ages, millennials, baby-boomers, generation xers, and young professionals, the answer is “yes, we are ready!” However, it is very challenging to name one truly walkable street or area in Houston. In our car-dependent city, walkability seems to have passed us by.
Why hasn’t Houston, as the 4th largest city in America, promoted places that are considered “truly walkable?” Pedestrian Pete asks, “what went wrong?” First, walkability requires strong leadership from elected officials and the Mayor’s Office, which until recently has been short on ideas and financial commitment. Worst of all is the City’s bureaucratic, Public Works “Infrastructure Design Manual,” or IDM. It prioritizes moving cars as fast as possible, while leaving walkability and cycling as a low priority. Finally, creating a walkable city requires innovation, and City Hall has failed to innovate and to plan for pedestrian places.
So, what should the City do at this point given all of the public support?