Saturday, December 19, 2015

Pleasantly Surprised

"The advantage of being a pessimist is that when you are right, you get to feel smug, and when you are wrong, you get to feel pleasantly surprised."

Although I live by the above quote, I have no idea where it comes from. Just over a year ago, describing the extension being made to the Braes Bayou path along Keegan's Bayou, I posted the following:

"... as appreciated as every bit of new trail is, this extension is not a game changer by any means. It is not that long, nor does it facilitate the crossing any busy highways or other significant barriers. I suspect its only effect will be to make my standard Braes Bayou ride a couple of miles longer..."

This assessment was based on how far I expected the extension to go. At the time I made this assessment, the existing extent of the extension was represented by the green line on the map above. Based on my examination of aerial maps, I predicted the City of Houston would add the yellow part, and stop there. In fact, the finished part of the trail now extends through the magenta line on the map and the city promises to take it all the way to the end of the grey line. That would be a game changer, providing a safe route past highways 59 and 8, opening up a bike route from where I live to the wonderful trails at George Bush and Terry Hershey parks. My post was not quite as pessimistic as suggested by the above quote, it actually finishes with: "not a bad thing at that" and that has very much turned out to be the case. Previously, my most common Braes Bayou ride was 17 miles long. I could extend it to close to 20 miles with some less than perfect side detours, but with the new extension, my out and back ride with no side trips is 22 miles long, and by riding the eastern side of the path and taking the long way around back home, I managed a 32 mile ride the other day.

The above picture shows where the trail crosses Highway 59. I predicted this crossing would be too difficult for the city to attempt, and delightfully, they proved me wrong.

The above picture shows the current end of the trail. Up ahead looms the impenetrable and heartbreaking barrier of Highway 8. Having cleared Highway 59, cannot the city clear this final hurdle? They promise they can.

The above picture was taken just a few yards from the previous one; the dirt road extending past the end of the paved trail turns left and this is what you see. Just left of center is some promising new construction.

All and all, things are looking up for the Houston1 cyclist. We just elected a new Mayor, and although his cycling agenda did not by itself decide the election, he was one of the cyclist-friendly candidates. Houston's major cycling advocacy group, Bike Houston, has grown by leaps and bounds, has become much more professional and responsive, and is very active in partnership with the city government to improve the lot of the Houston cyclist. Finally, the Houston Cycling Plan continues to progress, having recently defined its ten year goal; to become a Gold-level Bike-Friendly community, as defined by the League of American Bicyclists. I could (and may) do entire blog posts on any one of these events, but I simply mention them now to put improvements to my local bike path into context. It's a good time to be a pessimist!

1) Yeah, yeah, I don't technically live in Houston, but I use the Houston cycling infrastructure and am a Houstonian in my heart.

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