HOUSTON, TX – What can we do in our ever-growing city to keep the car pollution from smothering us all? For one, get more people to trade in four wheels for two. It’s possible. Kyle Nielsen can attest to that. He gave up driving eight years ago and has never looked back.
“People always tell you, ‘Houston’s a car city. You gotta have a car,'” Nielsen explains, “but I found that between my bike and the bus, I could get around quite easily.”
The new bike lanes downtown on Lamar connecting Discovery Green to the Buffalo Bayou bike trails have made it much easier, too. Kyle estimates he’s saved thousands of dollars by commuting via bike, and that hasn’t been the only benefit. “I don’t consider myself a real athletic health nut or anything,” he says, “but I’ve lost 50 pounds just from regular riding.”
Once a month, Nielsen joins hundreds of other cyclists for the Critical Mass bike ride where they take to the streets downtown all at once. “Critical Mass has had a controversial history in Houston, but for the past year and a half or so, we’ve been working with the police and coordinating our routes with them,” Nielsen, who runs the Critical Mass Facebook page, explains. “For me it’s about creating a safe space for riding on the road. Normally, when I’m riding on the road by myself, I feel endangered. I might get hit (but) when you’re riding with a large group, there’s no way the cars can’t see you.”
For more on cycling in Houston, check out the Ultimate Bicycling Guide in this month’s Houstonia.