Before I moved to Houston, I had searched information about riding bicycle in Houston from many websites. I found one sarcastic commend from a forum that said like “if you want to ride a bicycle in Houston I will do the life insurance for you but I will put my name on it, so I will get the money if you are hit by a car.” That made me a little bit scare about cycling here.
I used to live in a very small town in New York for few years. Cooperstown. I think some of you might know that town because of it is the place of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It needs around an hour to walk around the town. The population is just couple thousands.
It was very easy to ride a bicycle in such a tiny, safe, quiet, and peaceful town like that. There is only one intersection that has a traffic light. It was extremely safe most of the time in the year except in the summer when tons of baseball fans visiting the town that you need more awareness. Just a little bit more.
I visited Washington DC twice. I rent a tandem bike and riding around the tourism area in DC. It was really fun and impressive when riding bicycle in the big city that has bike lanes, wide sidewalks, and cool weather. That impression made me think about buying a tandem bike when I move to Houston.
However, after I acknowledged the commends insisting that it is not too safe to riding bicycle in Houston. So I just hesitated and I decide to wait and see what it looks like in Houston.
In the first month after I moved to Houston, I drove my car wandering around the town to explore the area and looking for a road that is “bike friendly” road. I found that the traffic in Houston is not too bad like many people said. Why?
I was born in Bangkok, Thailand which is the traffic is horrible. Traveling for around ten miles you might need two or three hours. The bus stop for people getting off in the middle of the road. Motorcyclists riding few inches pass you. No one cares about the law. Most of the car drivers usually try to break the law if they can go faster. If they are pulled over by a police they usually “negotiate” to the police which is very common as well. So people cutting of others, parking in the no parking area are very common things in Bangkok. I am very used to the chaos like that. Riding bicycle in a turmoil like that teaches me many survival skills. So the bad traffic in Houston cannot hurt me at all.
After I found that the traffic in Houston is not too bad like I thought, I made a decision about buying a bicycle. Then I got a tandem bike that I bought online from Walmart.
Riding a bicycle in Houston is not easy like riding in DC, but it is not hard like riding in Bangkok. So I just keep riding on a sidewalk like people do, and try to be careful about pedestrians and stay away from the road, except when I want to cross the road. That can make me survive when riding a bicycle in Houston.
I live in the medical center area. So I just found that ramps at the end of the side walk make it very easy to ride a bicycle.
However, from my understanding, I think the pedestrian is the first priority to use a side walk. So when I see people walking toward me I always keep the most right ( or left) as much as I can and slowest riding as I can.
Like I said, Houston is not Portland, Boston, DC, or NYC. For now there is only one light-rail route. It is too hard to ride a bicycle in the short distance, like go to the grocery, to the park but (from my opinion) it is impossible to ride from outside the loop to the workplace in downtown. So you might have to wait a little bit more for a good public transportation to allow me to ride a bicycle to work.
I will live in Houston for a couple more years from now and then I will go back to Thailand. I might not be able to see a fully system bike lane and fully transportation system that I can ride a bicycle without worrying about hitting buy a car. But from my opinion riding bicycle in Houston is possible. You might need more alert and carefulness to be safe here.