New Bicyclist-Pedestrian Study of the Clear Lake Area
The focus of this proposed study is to address the safety and mobility needs of pedestrians and bicyclists within the Clear Lake area of Houston. The limits of the project study area include El Dorado and Space Center Boulevards to the north and northeast, respectively, IH-45 to the west, and Nasa Road One in the south. There are a variety of land uses throughout the project study area, including residential neighborhoods and commercial businesses located along the primary roadways. Primary land use patterns of the north and western portions of the study area are single and multi-family residential development, while commercial retail and large employment centers to the south and east.
There is significant need to improve walking and bicycling conditions in this area. While there are segments of bikeways, there are gaps within the network which discourage cycling for local trips to local businesses, schools and employment centers. The completion of the Nasa Road One bypass has increased the volume and speed of traffic along the main section of roadway, reducing the effectiveness, appeal and safety of the on-street bicycle lanes. Improvements to local bicycling facilities may be needed to maintain and increase the use of bicycles in the area. There is one park-n-ride lot within the proposed study area, located at the interchange of IH-45 at Bay Area Boulevard. There are no pedestrian-bicyclist connections to the park-n-ride lot, however, there is one transit (bus) route in operation that provides access to this commuter parking lot and has an additional 13 locations to drop off and pick up passengers within the study area.
Pedestrian mobility within Clear Lake is significantly compromised by the speeds of traffic along local roadways, such as El Dorado, Bay Area Boulevard and Nasa Road One. Wide medians and multiple travel lanes along straight segments of roadways encourage drivers to speed, these factors act as a barrier to pedestrian mobility, reducing the levels of comfort and safety for people who choose to walk. In addition, the development patterns of single-family developments and lack of street connectivity create a barrier to pedestrian mobility. The study area would benefit from the creation of a pedestrian ‘grid’ to explore the potential of new pathway connections utilizing available greenways to link residential developments with local trip attractors.
There are 26,552 residents that live within the study area, 5,777 (21.8%) are less than 19 years old and 2,522 (9.5%) are greater than 65 years of age. The study area includes several large employers and attractors of activity. There are a total of 9 different employers that provide over 13,000 jobs for Clear Lake Area residents, including the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and the Clear Lake Regional Medical Center, comprised of several large medical facilities (Houston Physicians Hospital, Christus St. John, Triumph Hospital - Clear Lake, Cornerstone Hospital – Clear Lake, Clear Lake Rehabilitation Hospital).
Other potential generators of pedestrian-bicyclist activity include 3 elementary schools (G.H Whitcomb, Clear Lake City, Falcon Pass), two middle schools (Space Center, Webster) and a high school (Clear Lake) and technical school (Houston Alternative Preparation). In addition, there are two parks (15.8 acres) as well as four large shopping centers with supermarkets. Other potential generators of pedestrian-bicyclist activity adjacent to the study area include McWhirter Elementary, Clear View Education Center and Clear Lake Intermediate school, as well as the Clear Lake Campus of the University of Houston. Establishing better connections to these education facilities are also part of the proposed study.