Following our first Street Safety Summit with the Kinder Institute in 2018, the City of Houston, Harris County, and other stakeholders developed mobility initiatives and implemented projects to address safety and accessibility for people walking, rolling, and biking. While there are initiatives underway, lack of dedicated funding and systemic change inhibit real progress on improving mobility to address equity and climate justice.
We hosted the Street Safety Summit 2.0 to urge innovative walking, rolling, and biking solutions through philanthropic partnerships and to sustain the best results through long-term, dedicated budgets and policy priorities. Jonathan Brooks, LINK Houston’s Director of Policy and Planning, presented our most recent crash data analysis. This analysis demonstrates that the need for safer and more accessible streets remains critical; 2020 was one of the deadliest for people traveling in the Houston region in recent years, even with reduced traveling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Houston Planning Commissioner Antoine Bryant moderated a discussion among expert panelists: Krystal Monteros, President of the Tacoma [Washington] Area Commission on Disabilities; John Bailey, the National Resource Defense Council’s climate advisor to the City of San Antonio; Lisa Jacobson, Senior Program Officer for Mobility with the Barr Foundation; and Lisa Bender, City of Minneapolis Council President. The panelists described how to attract philanthropic investments to fund pilot mobility projects and then how to scale and institutionalize those projects to achieve better outcomes for all people using streets, especially for communities of color that have long experienced disinvestment due to racist policies of the past.
During the event we highlighted the importance of advocacy to push decision-makers to seek out philanthropic funding for catalytic projects, dedicate budget funds to prioritize projects in neighborhoods that need improvements the most, and to align capital spending with the policy commitments in Vision Zero Action Plan, Climate Action Plan, Houston Bike Plan, or Resilient Houston.
If you missed the virtual Street Safety Summit 2.0 and want to check out the discussion and presentations, please click here. We will provide LINK Houston presentation materials in Spanish on our website in the next few weeks.
Here’s how you can take action now by contacting your Houston City Council Member, the Houston Department of Public Works, and the Department of Planning and Development:
- Demand Dedicated Funding. Tell elected officials you want to see dedicated funding for safety programs for people walking, rolling, and biking. Urge leaders to use the limited funding dedicated in the recently approved Fiscal Year 2022 budget for equity and climate justice transportation priorities identified in the Vision Zero Action Plan, Climate Action Plan, Houston Bike Plan, and Resilient Houston. Scaling such projects to improve safety and access for people who walk, roll, or bike, particularly in communities of color, will improve climate justice and equitable outcomes for all.
- Ask for Mobility Projects. Tell elected officials we need infrastructure projects that center improving safety and dignity for people who walk, roll, or bike routinely to access opportunity – and then layer on other improvements (like drainage, potholes, etc.). Encourage elected officials and bureaucrats to seek out public-private partnerships and philanthropy, as the City has done for other budget shortfalls.
- Expect Systemic Change. Tell City of Houston officials we need systemic change, such as by establishing a Department of Transportation. A new department could leverage existing funding and staff, and create a single point-of-contact for the public and for outside partners (including funding partners). Call on elected officials and transportation decisionmakers to seek partnerships with philanthropic entities to catalyze pilot projects with a particular focus on equity and climate justice.
Share Your Vision. Tell elected officials about the city and community you want to see Houston become, such as a place where we celebrate the fact that people travel by all modes, which means planning all modes for all people.
June 4, 2021