A meeting of minds: a Houston-Austin mashup on Sunday, February 24.

On Sunday evening Bike Austin closed out the Texas Advocate Summit weekend organized by Bike Texas with a conversation with Bike Houston. The event, “How Did Houston Get Its Bike Lanes,” was held in the old house at Lustre Pearl East and gave us some insight into the great work happening in Houston. Many of us tend to think Houston is a highway mecca, but they showed us that they’re making great strides in advocating for better bike community and safety.

So, how are they getting bike lanes in Houston? By installing the lanes themselves of course! Using tape, community engagement, and the occasional ask for forgiveness in lieu of permission, the organization has laid temporary bike lane lines in different neighborhoods. Creating simple signs to educate nearby residents and laying down tape for a day is a cheap and easy way to demonstrate to decision makers and community leaders that bike safety is accomplishable.

Though infrastructure is important, Clark Martinson, Bike Houston’s Executive Director, emphasized the importance of engaging with the community first. Joining a complete communities initiative with the Mayor’s office, the organization empowered community ambassadors to work with their neighbors and find the right investments for them. This is a concept that we Austinites need to carry with us everywhere we go; we’re still struggling with inclusion and divides amongst our communities. We, Bike Austin, are making it a priority to reach further into more communities and admit that we can be better. Taking a page from Houston’s book, the organization believes in the empowerment of community ambassadors that can represent and engage their neighbors to improve the inclusion of a broader bicycle coalition.

Thanks to Lustre Pearl East for hosting the event and Bicycle Sport Shop for providing seating, and all of our Bike Austin volunteers.

Keep an eye out for more events; we are always open for a beer and chat about cycling in Austin. To learn more about Bike Houston check out their website, and stop by to say hi next time you’re in Houston.  —Lacy Patterson