|A new stretch of trail along Houston's White Oak Bayou, not yet ready for cyclists.|
Sadly, a short distance later, there is an unfortunate grade crossing at South Braeswood Boulevard. Traffic is heavy and visibility is less than ideal, leading to a difficult crossing. I have to assume that the City of Houston was simply unable to engineer anything better. I predict that many users of this trail will choose to turn around at this point rather than risk the South Braeswood Crossing. The trail is currently closed at this point, here is a photograph showing both the grade crossing with traffic and the cable blocking further progress down the new trail:
Because I was born to be wild, and because I am curious, I fought the law by riding my bike around the barrier to explore what has been accomplished so far on the new trail. (Tracks in the mud next to the barrier suggest I am not the only Houston cyclist with anarchistic tendencies.) So far, the trail has been extended west by about a mile and a half, with apparently more to come. Among the trail features are one of the attractive, steel bridges that are becoming a common feature of Houston multi-use trails, and side paths into adjacent neighborhoods:
White Oak Bayou
I first explored the potential of this route on a ride organized by the Houston Parks Board back in 2013. At that time, the only way to cross White Oaks Bayou was over an abandon railroad bridge, made unsafe by the ravages of time and vandalism:
Being the timid person I am, I ended up walking my bike over this bridge. After determining that this bridge was unsalvageable, the City of Houston demolished it and replaced it with this attractive, modern bridge:
This trail extension is not yet complete, as noted in the photo at the top of this post. Although the trail extends the existing MKT trail by taking it across the White Oak Bayou thus connecting it to a new set of neighborhoods, it does not yet allow me to get to the current White Oak Bayou trail without crossing Shepard and Durham. The dotted line on the map below shows what remains to be completed to realize the potential of this extension:
The current White Oak Bayou trail starts at the upper left corner of the above map, and continues for a gorgeous 7.5 miles past the edge of the map. Currently, I access this trail via the red route along the top of the map, crossing Shepard and Durham best I can. The new trail extension is shown in red along the bottom of the map. The missing link is the dotted red line weaving more or less parallel to the left side of the map.
Fighting the infamously aggressive Houston drivers is something I find somewhat difficult and that my wife finds extremely difficult, and we very much appreciate being able to bicycle on Houston's traffic free multi-use trails. Thus, we eagerly await each trail extension that lets us ride on more trails and fewer streets. Thanks to the City of Houston for all the progress to date!
1) I actually do not live in the City of Houston. I live in the City of West University Place, a small community completely contained within the City of Houston. However, my opportunities as a cyclist are affected almost entirely by Houston rather than WestU, so on this blog, I write as an Houstonian.