April Fools

Houston Becomes “Bike City USA”

Building on Texas’s reputation for environmentalism, which stems from its clean grid, Houston is aiming to rival Amsterdam and become a worldwide leader in urban bicycle commuting.

April 1, 2024

Picture of the shadow of a cowboy with a bicycle, reflected in sand.

Even cowboys are getting into the act by commuting into the city of Houston via one of the many highways that have been converted to bicycle-only traffic.

In a surprise move aimed at reducing the carbon impacts of commuting, Houston, Texas is banning cars from most of the city limits, expanding bicycle infrastructure into the suburbs, and even making right turns illegal. Mayor John Whitmore said residents overwhelmingly supported the initiatives in recent elections, and local businesses are excited and gearing up for more bicycle traffic.

Creating a policy is one thing, but implementing and paying for it are often difficult. That’s where many of the city’s magnanimous corporate citizens stepped up, including Occidental Petroleum, ConocoPhillips, Westlake Chemical, and Halliburton. Representatives from Halliburton exclaimed, “We’re excited to be putting our company’s long legacy of human compassion and engineering prowess to work making the world a better place. Supporting bicycling … it’s a no-brainer.”

A press release from ConocoPhillips reiterated these sentiments: “At ConocoPhilips, reducing our climate impacts has always been our first priority—well, that and bicycling. We love cycling! and we look forward to helping create the infrastructure that will allow our friends and neighbors to safely commute to work and get the vigorous exercise we all love here in Houston.”

But as excited as corporations are, local commuters are even more excited. Longshoreman Derrick Johnson said bicycling to work has really changed his life. “I’ll admit, I used to have a truck customized for rollin’ coal, but after The Man took away my license, I had to start bicycling,” he said. (“Rolling coal” is a practice of modifying diesel trucks to create large clouds of black smoke intentionally aimed at cyclists, runners, electric cars, and environmentalists.)

“At first,” Johnson continued, “it was a pain. Kinda embarrassing. But now I’m rolling a whole new energy, and without the separate bike lanes I’d never been able to get down to the docks safely.” Even the foreman is “getting into it,” said the new believer. “He rode in on a brand new e-bike this morning. We all gave him shit for not being man enough to pedal, but 30 years of loading oil rig parts, plus a bum knee and shoulder … we cut him some slack.”

Ever since Houston initiated its bike-first policies, other Texas cities, including Waco, Dallas–Fort Worth, and Lubbock are all looking to get in on the act, and the State has taken notice. At an evening press conference yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott praised Houston for its leadership. “Houston has shown us what we can accomplish if we all support each other with compassion, respect, and a sense of shared belonging. So to ensure the safety of the thousands of Texans taking to the roads on bikes, the government is, from here on out, making turning right on red illegal statewide. Too many cyclists have been cut off and injured.” He added, “and to make sure our laws are being followed, we’ll be installing cameras and other surveillance equipment. The people have spoken—the dangerous, hard right turns being made in this and other states have got to stop!” he said to thunderous applause. 


Add new comment

To post a comment, you need to register for a BuildingGreen Basic membership (free) or login to your existing profile.