11th Street Bikeway Project in Heights draws controversy with residents

1.5 miles bikeway would reduce traffic lanes

HOUSTON – The 11th street redesign plan aims to change the layout of the Heights, which is drawing mixed reviews from neighbors.

The street, which is located between Shepherd and Michaux in the Heights, is booming with thriving businesses and frustrating commuter traffic.

Joe Cutrufo, the executive director of BikeHouston, a non-profit organization aiming to make it possible for everyone to navigate the city by bike, said the area has major safety concerns.

“Houston, for decades, has been designed around moving cars and not much else,” Cutrufo said.

Cutrufo is in favor of the transformation, which will add safer crossings and protected bike lanes on each side of the road.

Motor vehicle traffic will be reduced from two lanes in each direction, to one lane, with the intention of slowing down speeds.

Councilwoman Abbie Kamin said right now motor vehicles there travel an average of 38 mph in the 30-mph zone.

“The redesign of 11th Street is meant to make this corridor safer for everyone whether they’re on foot on bike or in a car,” Cutrufo said.

At Eight Row and Flint on 11th and Yale, staff members say they are against the plan due to fear that it could cut down on access.

Some people who dine there are also saying no.

“The traffic here is tough, it’s thick, and cutting out lanes is not going to improve anything other than make waits longer and people will get agitated,” said Raoul Portillo who lives nearby.

“We’re in walking distance from this restaurant and we’re afraid if they narrow the street that it will send a lot more traffic down our street, and we’ve got grandkids that come over, there are a lot of children on our street,” said Raoul’s wife, Christine.

The Portillos propose speed bumps, adjusting traffic lights, and adding patrols on 11th Street to cut down on speeding. Cutrufo said the same can be done for smaller side streets where there is a concern. He adds the plan will help businesses.

“If you’re walking by or biking by at five to 10 mph, it’s a lot easier to stop in,” Cutrufo said.

The $600,000 project is already fully approved and funded through the Houston Bike Plan, which was approved back in 2017, so no tax increase.

City officials hope to finalize the designs for the project by this spring and begin construction by the summer.

About the Author: