Houston’s New Mayor Pumps the Brakes on Street Safety Projects

A few months into his new job as mayor of Houston, John Whitmire has been laying out a much different vision for transportation and mobility than his predecessor.

The Whitmire administration has pumped the brakes on a series of projects that involve reconfiguring city streets to add bike lanes, create safer pedestrian crosswalks and in some cases remove or narrow vehicular lanes. It has requested a pause on all projects, including those already under construction, which involve lane reductions and on-street bike lanes.

The change of direction has alarmed transportation safety advocates and other elected leaders in the area. Several prominent safe streets advocates who were in transportation leadership roles have recently left the city government. More than 300 people died on Houston’s streets last year, a substantial increase from pre-pandemic figures that aligns with an upward trend of traffic violence nationally. Under Sylvester Turner, the previous mayor, Houston had adopted a Vision Zero strategy, aimed at eliminating traffic deaths and injuries.

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