By Charley Olena
Houston is about to be a nation-wide leader in off-street, safe, shared-use paths. That’s right, Houston—the town usually known for its freeways and traffic—has approved a major bond initiative aimed at completing a 100-year-old idea to unite its bayous with parks and trails.
This is the biggest parks project in the state, and one of the largest in the nation. Currently, Houston has 75 miles of trails along the major bayous throughout the city, but will expand the trails to 150 miles in the city, connecting 77 parks with linear greenways along the banks of its bayous and filling in the major gaps in the system. The project, now known as Bayou Greenways 2020, is a public/private partnership with the city and area non-profits like the Houston Parks Board. Bayou Greenways 2020 will not only vastly increase the areas available to Houstonians for recreation, but will also create an alternative for transportation by uniting many of Houston’s major employment centers for bikes and pedestrians. Indeed, nearly 60% of all Houstonians will live within 1.5 miles of one of these parks or trails. The project is expected to be completed in seven years.
This spring, Houston Parks Board is bringing together community members, students, businesses, organizations, and biking groups to get involved and speak up about what this project means to them. We’ve already organized multiple bayou bike tours, collected over 2000 petitions, and we’re just getting started. If you’re in the area and want to get involved, or would like more information about the project, check out our website for more information. We can get these trails built here in Houston, but only with your help. See you on the trails!