Monday, February 21, 2011

Biking in Houston

It's been in the 70's for the last week - that means it's time to start working on that bicycling shorts tan-line!

Yesterday we went on our first bike ride of the year with the trailer bikes.  We've been avoiding the trailer bikes lately for a couple of reasons:
  1. The kids always want to ride their "two-wheeled bikes".
  2. The City of Houston has been taking away all our bike paths over the last couple of years, making it virtually impossible to ride anywhere that we used to ride with the kids on the trailer bikes!
About four years ago, they did some road work and then started working on expanding the "bayou" (which used to be an actual bayou, or creek, I guess, but at some point in time, they turned it into a concrete-lined drainage ditch), and in the process of doing so, they removed part of the bike path.  Each time it looked like they might be ready to open up a section of the path again, they would start a new project and leave the path wallowing in a sea of mud and weeds.

Then maybe two years ago, they finished the section of bike path they had originally been working on, but then they started on another section down the way.  That was sort of OK, though, because we could just go around the section they'd been working on and we could still get in a good ride from our house down to IH-610 and back.

But then about a year ago, they decided to work on a bridge that goes over the bike path.  So, the section of path that was closed became very long and the only way to get to the path in that direction was to go through the Medical Center and that's just dangerous.  I felt like I was taking my life into my own hands every time we went through there - even early on Sunday mornings.

So, our only remaining option was to ride the bike path and go towards the University of Houston.  That was OK, too, because it's the prettier direction to ride on the path.  It's a shorter ride, but it's definitely prettier.  And we can usually find some good sections of bluebonnets in which to take pictures of the kids each year along that section of the path.

However, about 6 months ago, they began working on expanding the "bayou" in that direction, too, and they removed the bike path.

So, all our normal bike path options were gone.  Luckily, we discovered that the kids love riding trails and doing some "mountain biking", so we focused on taking day trips and weekend trips to satisfy our biking needs.

Yesterday morning, however, we figured that surely after so long, the bike path headed towards IH-610 would be open by now, so we hooked up the trailer bikes and took our chances.

You wanna ride your bike in Houston?  You must be joking!
Yeah, right.  There's a reason Houston is considered one of the least bicycle-friendly places in the country.  This is only one section of the bike path that we had to get off and walk our bikes around.

Here's a picture of the lovely "bayou" with a section of the bike path that hasn't been removed... yet.  I wish I could also attach smells to this post - it's truly an experience to be able to ride along, smelling the fishy water and then realize that you're getting close to the water treatment plant based on the pungent odors that begin emanating from the water.  Nice.

Path along the "bayou"

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