This project was Lysle Oliveros’s 2009 Masters Thesis project. The concept originated as a point of humor during a dinner party. “I asked my neighbor if he recently mulched the yard (due to a pungent odor), and he replied that the smell was from a local landfill established previous to the housing development.”
"Bicycle Freedom," an art work made from Hurricane Ike debris by Nicholas Auger and hung on the Hazard street bridge over I-59
In Amsterdam, Berlin, or Shanghai, masses of men, women, and children bicycling together would be nothing unusual. Why not Houston? Though the climate and flat terrain are ideal for bicycling, inadequate accommodations on Houston’s abundant roadways limit their use by “vehicular cyclists.”
An update of the City of Houston’s comprehensive Bikeway Plan is under way to boost Houston’s efforts to become a bicycling-friendly community.
A model made from Ike debris, on display at Gulf Coast Green, showing a rehabilitated and roof-supplied future for Maya's Grocery in Galveston [Photo by Raj Mankad]
From April 16 to 17, several hundred environmentally-minded individuals gathered at the 2009 Gulf Coast Green Symposium. While keynote speaker Alex Steffen addressed the issues of a growing worldwide middle class (and the largely-inevitable consumption that comes with it), Steve Mouzon, AIA, LEED AP discussed “living traditions” right down to the detailing of an organic kitchen garden for a sustainable home. But it was the local speakers who took on the specific challenges Houston faces.
Map generated by Walk Score. Green means very walkable, red means car-dependent, and yellow is in between.
The above map purportedly shows what parts of Houston are walkable. An algorithm generates the scores using distances from a given location to different types of amenities. That measurement is weighted according to population density. So a place where people live that is close to restaurants, grocery stores, and schools gets a high rating. Houston got an overall rating of 51, the bottom end of “somewhat walkable.” The score for my home address in the Montrose was a 91, just inside the highest category, “walking paradise.” Most of the results are intuitive, but there are some surprises.
Peter Wang and Colin Tangeman [Photo by Raj Mankad]
Peter Wang is a Geophysicist, a League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor, and an advocate for cyclists in the Houston-Galveston region. On March 5th, sitting outside the Brochstein Pavilion, he discussed the state of bicycling with Colin Tangeman, a writer and teacher at the University of Houston, and Raj Mankad, editor of Cite.
Raj Mankad and Colin Tangeman: What is your vision for cycling in this area? What are the problems? What needs to happen?
Peter Wang: Do we mean Harris County or City of Houston, that’s an important distinction?
Two cyclists stand ready to help inaugurate the Columbia Tap trail. [Photo by Raj Mankad]
Last Saturday morning, a large crowd celebrated a little trail. The newly completed Columbia Tap connects the area east of the George R. Brown Convention Center to the Third Ward. Over 4 miles in length, it follows the former Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way creating a north-south corridor roughly bounded by Dowling Street on the west and Scott Street on the east. Here is a link to the not-very-clear Columbia Tap route map.
I bought this book because I liked the way it looks.
On the cover appears a tightly cropped view of a cell phone tower disguised as an enormous palm tree framed against a lavender-colored sky. The Infrastructural City, put out by trendy Barcelona-based Actar, is of a smallish size with matte paper pages and lots of soft, washed-out photos exuding the pungent smell of Spanish ink. For me the attraction was physical.
Construction has begun on the new East End light rail line at Harrisburg [Photo by Christof Spieler]
The new issue of Cite (77, Winter 2009) includes a brief update on Houston’s light rail expansion. METRO plans 30 miles of new light rail in addition to the current 7.5 miles. In all, the system will have 64 stations, putting a significant part of Houston’s urban core — including Downtown, the Texas Medical Center, Greenway Plaza, Uptown, the University of Houston, Rice University, Texas Southern University, the University of St. Thomas, Midtown, the Near North Side, the East End, the Third Ward, Neartown, and Gulfton — within walking distance of light rail.
Buffalo Bayou Montage [Shannon Stoney]
Shortly after I moved to Houston, I had the weird thought that it was actually a city where cars were in charge and ran the city. Humans were just sort of their servants. We provide them places to park; we maintain them and gas them up. The actual environment of Houston looks more like an environment a car would think of than one a human would want: all those miles of concrete ramps, some of them way up in the air! Some parts of Houston look like an amusement park for cars, especially where several freeways come together.
Bolt on sidewalk on Old Spanish Trail
When I lived in Houston Heights, I could walk to the grocery store, the post office, the drug store, the public library, the hardware store, the bank, and the garden center. And I did. But recently my partner and I moved to University Oaks, a small neighborhood attached to the south end of the UH campus. It’s a nice, pretty, quiet, safe neighborhood, and Tom can walk to work, and my commute to HCC Southeast is much shorter. But…there are very few amenities we can walk to, other than the campus.
I didn’t want to be defeated though or deflected from my habit of walking to do errands, so shortly after we moved, I tried to find a post office within walking distance. Google maps informed me that there was one on Griggs Rd, about 1.8 miles away. That’s do-able. So in early September I set off to find my local neighborhood post office. I walked along Brays Bayou, then over a bridge, then past a park, and then I turned onto Old Spanish Trail. That’s when things got ugly.