BikeHouston and Sustainable Living, a new environmental organization based in Cypress, are in the process of engaging the Harris County Toll Road Authority concerning possible bicycle facilities along the Grand Parkway Segment E and other corridors. Segment E is planned to run from I-10 to US290 approximately along the Katy-Hockley Road alignment, which is prime NW Harris County cycling territory.
Currently, nothing in the way of bicycle facilities is planned for Grand Parkway. It would go in very much like the existing Beltway 8 Tollway if nothing changes, with nothing in the design to help cyclists or pedestrians.
I am asking you to do four things soon:
1. Click HERE to sign this online petition right now
2. Before September 15, send a postal letter to the Harris County Toll Road Authority. Boilerplate text provided below, but please do customize the letter with your own language, anecdotes, or statement about how you would use the proposed facility (or how the lack of such a facility would detract from your life)
3. Contact me privately if you want to help by attending a meeting in the near future
4. Forward this to every cyclist you know who rides out in the area of the Grand Parkway Segment E, which is West and Northwest Harris County
Peter Wang, LCI
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Mr. Peter Key
Harris County Toll Road Authority
330 Meadowfern Drive
Houston, TX 77067
Dear Mr. Key:
I am a bicyclist and a pedestrian, and I am in favor of improving bicycle & pedestrian access along the future Grand Parkway segments, specifically:
1. Pedestrian crosswalks and signals at every signalized intersection along the access roads
2. Removal of barriers - Full ADA compliance for all paths. Every bridge that goes in as part of the access roads also has an ADA-compliant path alongside traffic lanes, so that bridges do not become barriers
3. Wide, bi-directional, paved multi-use paths (8 ft wide) for pedestrians, future transit users, runners, children, the elderly, beginner bicyclists, roller-bladers, and wheelchair users, on both sides of the Grand Parkway access road
4. Designated bike lanes, shoulders, or wide outside lanes greater than 14 feet wide on the Grand Parkway access road, which will improve safety and efficiency for future bus operations along the corridor, and for experienced bicyclists and large group bicycle rides (after all, the Grand Parkway will cut through prime pre-MS150 training territory)
Please help make the Grand Parkway a "Complete Street" for all users. Thank you.
Your name and signature
Your Texas County of Residence
(I am / I am not) a Harris County Tollroad system user
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Public comment period ends September 18, 2009. It looks like The Grand Parkway is a done-deal, Harris County is already spending your property tax money on it, even before the economic viability study has been done. "We say it will be successful, therefore it will be". You've heard that before, I'm sure.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is really the last hope to stop this project, or at least to modify it so that road cyclists don't totally lose.
Please fire up your word processors and fax machines for one last effort. My example letter is below. Good luck.
Mr. Sam J. Watson
Regulatory Branch, CESWG-PE-RB
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers
P.O. Box 1229
Galveston, TX 77553-1229
Fax: (409) 766-6301
Dear Mr. Watson,
Subject: SWG-1997-02901 The Grand Parkway Segment E
The Katy-Hockley Cut-Off Road & Katy-Hockley Road corridor provides residents of Katy, Cypress, and the surrounding areas with vital bicycle connectivity from I-10 to the south to US-290 to the north. This unique connectivity allows area residents to bicycle through the Katy Prairie biome for recreational and health reasons. Residents fortunate enough to live close to the Katy-Hockley corridor can get there entirely without the use of a car, cycling directly from home to the Prairie and back again. I personally do this as often as every week.
The Katy Prairie area is recognized as one of the top road cycling areas in North America. Every year, 13,000 bicyclists gather to ride through the Katy Prairie from Houston to Austin on the MS150 bicycle tour. On any given weekend during fair weather, hundreds of bicyclists, in small or large groups, or solo, are cycling on the Prairie for recreation or to train for actual races and triathlons. As the MS150 date approaches, this number probably exceeds 1,000 - 2,000.
The Katy-Hockley corridor is being studied by the Texas Department of Transportation and BikeTexas (the non-profit state bicycle advocacy organization) as part of a possible resurrection of the Old Texas 20 Highway as a permanent bicycle tourism route from Houston to Austin.
Loss of the Katy-Hockley corridor from I-10 to US-290 to the Grand Parkway Segment E would be devastating to bicyclists. If you look on a map, there are simply no other through-going north-south roads in this area. FM362 and Fry Road are many miles away. Fry Road is heavily settled, and is increasingly not providing a prairie experience for bicyclists as development proceeds.
I am requesting, therefore, that the Army Corp deny Harris County’s request to build the Grand Parkway Segment E, unless a continuous, paved, well engineered (per AASHTO standards), bi-directional multi-use path is built alongside of The Grand Parkway Segment E all the way from I-10 to US-290. This path should be well-integrated into the existing road and street network, as well as any existing non-motorized paths and trails, cross any creeks and drainage, the pavement surface should be no less than 10 ft in width, and there should be no motorized traffic on it of any kind (save for personal electric mobility devices for the disabled). This path should have spur paths to area locations of recreational and cultural interest, such as parks.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has been a true champion for protecting and developing recreational opportunities for area residents, and I hope that you will continue in that fine tradition and insist that that there be no Grand Parkway Segment E without full and fair mitigation of north-south bicycle connectivity from I-10 to US-290.
League of American Bicyclists Certified Instructor