Houston's Promising Future as a Bike-Friendly City

Discover why Houston is on the path to becoming a cycling hub.

Mia Trailsmith
Oct 22, 2021
Female commuter cycling on a road with greenery around herFemale commuter cycling on a road with greenery around her

Don’t Underestimate Houston’s Future as a Bike Friendly City

When you think of Houston, cycling probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. In a recent survey that ranked US cities according to key indicators of bike-friendliness, Houston tied with Indianapolis for 106th place out of 200 cities - putting it squarely in the middle of the pack.

But every great bike-friendly city has to start somewhere, right? Infrastructure development, cycling (and parking) safety, and educating citizens about the benefits of cycling are all key components that can drastically change a city in a short period of time. Other things, like poor weather or hilly terrain, are harder to overcome but luckily, Houston doesn’t have those problems.

The city itself is primed for a cycling revolution. Although the city is spread out, ebikes help cyclists and commuters get to where they need to go with less physical demand. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t underestimate Houston as one of the bike-friendly US cities of the future.

The Weather is Perfect for Cycling

Apart from the four hot summer months, the remaining eight months of weather in Houston are perfect for cycling. With winter lows of 44°F, all you need is a warm base layer (and perhaps a wooly pair of socks) to enjoy cycling for almost the entire year.

Although the summers are brutal, it doesn’t mean you need to stop cycling for a quarter of the year. By riding at the right times of day, dressing appropriately, staying hydrated, and planning rest stops, you can still enjoy cycling in Houston even when the temperature tops 90°F.

If you do decide to take a summer ride, stick to routes you know or explore some of the best shaded bike routes in the city:

  • Rice University & Rice Village
  • Hermann Park
  • Downtown Houston
  • Memorial Park

Houston Has a Vision

Joe Cutrufo, executive director of BikeHouston, says, “Houston has a reputation for traffic and sprawl, but between the bayou trails, new protected bike lanes, and hundreds of miles of streets just itching to be redesigned, I see a place brimming with potential to become one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities.”

In September 2021, BikeHouston spearheaded The Orbit, a looped bike route designed for beginners and experts alike to explore the city. While it’s still a guerilla-style unofficial map, Cutrufo hopes that one day the route will be formalized and include official signage.

Houston Bikeways also has big plans for the city: According to their plans, by 2027 the city will be safer, more accessible, and bike-friendly. In conjunction with cycling organizations and state and federal partners, they want to implement the following steps over the next few years:

  • Improve safety: Through education, enforcement, and infrastructure development, people of all ages and abilities will be able to safely cycle in Houston.
  • Increase access: Residential neighborhoods will be connected to employment and activity centers, such as schools, universities, and parks.
  • Increase ridership: Policies and programs will be implemented to encourage healthier transportation choices.
  • Develop and maintain facilities: A high-quality bicycle network will be established and maintained.

Houston’s Cycling Community Really Cares

Some of the most popular cycling clubs in Houston include The Houston Bicycle Club (which was established in 1964), Bohemeo's Badass Bike Ride, HTX Bike Social, Southwest Cycling Club and the North West Cycling Club - but Houstonians don’t only rally together for a good ride.

Earlier this October, six cyclists were injured in a road rage incident in Waller County where a teen driver was allegedly attempting to “roll coal” (meaning to blow thick exhaust smoke on pedestrians, cyclists, or other motorists) on the cyclists. The driver accelerated into them, landing four of the cyclists in hospital.

The driver wasn’t arrested or charged on the scene, and the topic became a nationwide debate on social media, with Texans inundating the police department to ask why the driver wasn’t charged. BikeHouston’s Joe Cutrufo said, “In Waller County, justice is apparently not blind. This person was looking for trouble, but left without slapping his wrist. If someone had hurt six people with something else, he would have been arrested on the spot.”

Waller County District Attorney Elton R. Mathis took to social media to note that the case "was not handled appropriately by the investigating agency," and a special prosecutor has now been assigned to the case.

Earlier this year, another Waller County man was sentenced to life in prison after hitting two cyclists and fleeing the scene.

While this case is an unfortunate reminder of Houston’s car-centric lifestyle where motorists dominate the roads, the fact that the case is sparking a nationwide debate around cyclist safety will hopefully strengthen support for organizations like BikeHouston and Houston Bikeways.

Group Rides are Growing

Houston cyclists who are keen to ride with a large group of other cyclists used to only have one opportunity in the city to do so: The Critical Mass events which started back up after a hiatus due to the pandemic. But, with the increased post-pandemic popularity of cycling, Houston cyclists have more choices than ever before.

Along with the monthly Critical Mass events, there are now more events that enable cyclists to partake in large group rides almost every week.

The Clutch City Cruisers ride 27 miles every Thursday, even in the face of rain or bad weather - and it’s not just for serious cyclists! The organizers describe it as a “fashion show and family gathering on wheels”, where they play music throughout the ride and welcome all cyclists and bikes, from hipster fixies to beach cruisers to BMX bikes.

On Saturdays, you can join Bike Barn for cycling events every week. Some of their upcoming events include the Rock ‘n Road 100 (with 100-mile road or gravel routes), Bike Around the Island (where you have the option to take part in a one or two day ride around Galveston Island), and Bike to the Beach (where you ride 25, 50, or 100 miles to raise funds for people with autism and disabilities).

The Active Passion group rides every Sunday at 8AM and welcomes all riders who can maintain 18 mph for 35 miles (if you elect to do the 35-mile route). You can choose between 20, 35, or 56-mile routes. Arrive early for pre-ride coffees and snacks!

On the first Sunday of each month, Bayou Bikers explore the beauty of Houston’s famous bayous on partly off-road rides for anywhere between 25 to 40 miles. The rides are open to everyone, but they note that you need to have a mountain bike with fat tires.

Remember, if you sign up with Sundays Insurance and select our optional racing and event coverage add-on, we will cover your bicycle if the damage is caused by a specific incident, crash, impact, or road hazard while taking part in a race or event.

Get Covered for Your Next Houston Ride

Specialist bicycle insurance can be intimidating if you’re a casual cyclist - but it’s not only designed for serious cyclists! With bicycle coverage from $8 per month, almost anyone can ensure their bike is covered.

Many cyclists are under the impression that their bicycle is fully covered by their homeowners and renters insurance policy, but often this isn’t the case. Many homeowners and renters insurers won’t cover your bicycle for its full value, or protect your bike in a range of common cycling scenarios.

Want to enjoy ultimate peace of mind while you ride? Sign up for specialist bicycle insurance with Sundays Insurance. Get an online quote in minutes.

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