Houston, TX, announces plans to adopt city-wide Complete Streets policy

A Complete Streets approach in Houston
Bagby Street in Houston, TX used a Complete Streets approach, which will now be a new standard for the city. Photo courtesy of the City of Houston.

The city of Houston, TX, cast its vote for safer, more vibrant streets yesterday when Mayor Annise Parker announced her intention to sign an executive order creating a city-wide Complete Streets policy.

The mayor’s Complete Streets and Transportation Plan will make Houston’s streets safer, more accessible and more convenient for motorists, public transit riders, pedestrians, people of all abilities and bicyclists. The new policy, detailed in a draft executive order from the mayor, will be implemented over time as improvements to existing roadways and redevelopment occur.

“Houston is a city that embraces its diversity,” the mayor said in a statement. “This Complete Streets policy applies the same approach to our mobility system by meeting the diverse needs of all Houstonians while also creating more accessible and attractive connections to residential areas, parks, businesses, restaurants, schools and employment centers.”

Ed Gonzalez
City Councilmember, Mayor Pro-Tem and Local Leaders Council member Ed Gonzalez, second from left, at yesterday’s unveiling ceremony. Photo courtesy of Council Member Gonzalez.

Joining the mayor at yesterday’s event was Houston City Council Member and Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzalez. Gonzalez is a Steering Committee member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council and has long been a champion of Complete Streets in Houston.

“This is truly an exciting time to be a Houstonian,” Gonzalez said. “Thanks to Mayor Parker’s leadership, the participation of folks like the Houston Complete Streets Coalition, the Directors of the Planning and Public Works Departments, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and the support of our citizens, ‘Complete Streets’ will finally become a reality in Houston. I look forward to more projects like Bagby Street and Navigation Boulevard that promote connectivity, walkability, and safe, vibrant communities throughout our city.”

In addition, representatives from Houston Tomorrow, a coalition member of Smart Growth America dedicated to exploring urban issues and informing the discussion of growth in the Houston region, joined the mayor and the council member at yesterday’s event. Houston Tomorrow is one of many non-profits and community groups that have been involved in championing safer streets in the Houston region. Jay Blazek Crossley recapped the event on Houston Tomorrow’s blog.

Houston joins Austin and San Antonio to become the third city in Texas with a Complete Streets policy. A bill before the state legislature would make Complete Streets a priority statewide. Unfortunately, the bill was not considered in the most recent legislative session, but will hopefully come before both chambers when they next convene in January 2015.

Houston is the latest in a growing movement of communities that are making streets safer and more accessible for everyone who uses them. Over 550 Complete Streets policies are now in place in cities, counties and states nationwide—so many, in fact, that Congress has introduced legislation that would make a Complete Streets approach the national standard.

Voice your support for Complete Streets across the country: Speak out for the Safe Streets Act of 2013 today.

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Complete Streets Local Leaders Council