On April 11, Mayor Turner answered our call for #saferstreetshtx at a press conference on Shepherd Drive and 10th Street, where two people lost their lives in a tragic crash just a couple of weeks prior.
In his announcement, Mayor Turner informed the public that the City of Houston completed many of the short-term recommendations at the 12 most dangerous intersections . Additionally, the Mayor said he will lead a public safety campaign to help change driver culture and behavior, as well as increase awareness for pedestrian safety. To manage these efforts and work on long-term solutions, the Mayor will appoint a Street Safety Coordinator in the Public Works Department and form a pedestrian safety and accessibility task force.
Maria Town, Director of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, played a leading role in gathering community input for the Mayor’s announcement. Town announced several advancements by the City of Houston, including increased funding for the Pedestrian Accessibility Review Program under the City’s Sidewalk Program, as well as efforts to address every existing sidewalk request currently outstanding under the program. METRO and the Houston Police Department will also play an integral role in this process for implementing multi-disciplinary and holistic solutions.
Prior to these announcements, LINK Houston, BikeHouston, and community members from across the city spoke on March 26 before City Council, emphasizing the need for rapid and efficient safety and accessibility improvements to address the deadly carnage on Houston’s streets.
Several community members spoke of their experiences and losses, with the ultimate goal of moving the Mayor and City Council to action.
Ali Abdalla and Wigdan Ahmed Mohammed spoke to City Council, asking for improvements in school zones. In 2016, they lost their son, Muhammad, who was on his way to school when he was killed in a tragic crash. “We need more cross[ing] guards in our areas to help the students to cross the street safely, and we need officers to enforce traffic safety laws,” said Ali Abdullah.
Sandra Rodriguez, President of the Gulfton Super Neighborhood Council, spoke about the lack of safety in her area. She presented data on the absence of sidewalks, the danger of existing sidewalks, and the high rates of fatal and injuring ped-bike accidents.
Kathryn Nowlin, a dedicated advocate for transportation safety and accessibility, spoke about her experiences. She discussed how, as a woman with a disability, she faces near-death moments every day, just when crossing the street.
As a group, we have called on the Mayor and City Councilmembers to address urgently work to make our streets safer with specific actions:
- Appoint a transportation safety official to lead a task force to address the systematic traffic safety issues in Houston.
- Prioritize the short-term recommendations identified in the Federal Highway Administration’s Road Safety Audits and commit to a system-wide change in ways to address safety for vulnerable road users.
- Lead a safety campaign to promote safe mobility habits using media resources the city has available including HTV, audio recordings, and press conferences.
Our collective advocacy efforts made this possible. Through LINK Houston’s data analysis, partnerships with stakeholders like BikeHouston and others, and your commitment to share your experiences, we helped change policies. The work is not done yet. We at LINK Houston look forward to continuing to work with the City of Houston and each one of you to help improve safety and accessibility for all Houstonians.