WHEEL SCARY

Ken Hoffman's near-death horror stories reveal the dangers of cycling in Houston

It's a dangerous road for Houston bikers. Photo courtesy of Houston Heights Association

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

As CultureMap reported, Houston is the sixth-most-dangerous city for bicycle riding, according to a ranking of 790 cities by Your Local Security, a blog that covers safety issues operated by the ADT home security company. Frankly, I'm shocked by Houston finishing so high on the danger list.

I thought we'd be higher.

The survey was based on factors such as bicycle laws, infrastructure, percentage of people who commute to work on bicycles, and fatal crashes. I know that Houston has ambitious plans to improve things for bicycle riders. In 2017, City Council passed an imaginative Houston Bike Plan, a call for a "highly accessible, citywide network of comfortable bike facilities," and strategies to convince Houstonians to get on their bicycles more often. I get all that.

But until then ... it's war between car drivers and bicycle riders. And guess who wins that? As Sgt. Esterhaus used to warn cops on Hill Street Blues, "Hey, let's be careful out there." I'm talking to bike riders.

Before we build new bikes lanes, how about filling 10,000 potholes along Bissonnet, and sweeping the bikes lanes we have now? I'm sort of a bicyclist, but not a Spandex-wearing rider who pedals 75 miles on Saturday mornings for fun. (Fun?) Once a year, I ride the weekend BP MS 150 to Austin, but that has me limping to Massage Envy on Monday asking, "How much to do just my butt?"

Mostly, I ride to the supermarket, once in a while to "work," to my neighborhood tennis courts, around my spring/summer home in West U, places like that. I like to consider that exercise, but it's really not.

Bike lane horrors
Problem is, the bike lanes along Westpark and West Alabama are garbage dumps — broken beer bottle depositories and gravel quarries. They're dangerous. One skid on the gravel and you're tumbling into oncoming cars. Better to take your chances riding on the sidewalk, which doesn't endear you to pedestrians.

The cities that beat Houston for danger are: Los Angeles and New York City — of course, slam dunk. Next was a part of Brooklyn, followed by Webster, Iowa, and two cities in North Dakota. The North Dakota cities shouldn't even count because how can you ride a bike in snow 11 months a year?

Dear drivers: Why the bike hate?
I don't understand the hatred that some drivers have for bicyclists. I've been honked at, yelled at, thrown things at. For what? There's room for both drivers and pedalers on Houston streets. Once time, true story, while getting a medical checkup, my doctor went off on bike riders who run red lights. I know, he had a point, but let's get back to my heart rate, okay, Dr. DeFelice?

A brush with death
Want to hear about the two times I almost killed myself on a bicycle? (Well, one time; the other time wasn't my fault.)

Friday night in October 2013: After I participated in the Critical Mass bike ride around downtown for a column about the controversial, often wild 'n' wooly gathering, I hit a pothole, or something, on Weslayan Street, between Westheimer and Richmond.

Continue reading on CultureMap.

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @TourismGymHtx. Facebook @TourismGymHtx

I have been creating long distance walking tours in Houston since 2016. One thing, I learned quickly is that I better be curious and ready to learn….ALOT. It has been a wonderful ride. Here are a few things that you probably didn't know about Houston.

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Scandal of Rice University

Rice University is known as the Ivy League of Houston. But, I bet you didn't know that it almost did not exist. William Marsh Rice made his fortune in Houston. With a net worth of $3 million, he was the second richest man in Texas. He wanted to give back by opening a university here. This is where it gets interesting. His lawyer, Albert T. Patrick decided that he deserved the money more. He and Rice's valet, Charles F. Jones, murdered Rice using chloroform. Patrick wrote a series of forged checks to himself to acquire the fortune. They would have gotten away with it, but, one of the checks had Rice's name misspelled. Houston thanks the Rice's trusted friend and lawyer, James Baker for not letting sleeping dogs lie. Not only do we have an amazing university, but Houston Tourism Gym has some great tours starting at Rice University.

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Secret Bubble Button of Buffalo Bayou

Many people have heard of the secret bubble button of Buffalo Bayou. Few know where it actually is. You can find this urban legend on the Mosbacher Bridge before you get to the Wortham Center. What will happen if you push this button? A massive bubble display will appear in Buffalo Bayou beneath the bridge. How did it get there? This secret attraction was installed by artist Dean Ruck to help churn the bayou and keep it oxygenated. This helps to control foul odors in the bayou. Press here to see the Secret Bubble Button in action. Unfortunately, the button had to be disabled during Hurricane Harvey and has yet to be reactivated.

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Market Square Park was home to not ONE, but FOUR City Halls.

Four score and only a couple hundred years ago. Okay 1836. Market Square Park was actually home to city hall and an open market that sold goods that arrived from Allen's Landing, where the Allen Brothers founded Houston. You could buy meat, firearms, produce, and animals at the market. Due to storms and fires, city hall had to be rebuilt four times until finally it was moved to 901 Bagby St.

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Love Street Light Circus Feel Good Machine.

We have all had the light and tasty Kolsch by Karbach called Love Street. The real Love Street was a psychedelic club called Love Street Light Circus Feel Good Machine. None other than David Adickes (artist of Virtuoso and the I Love Houston Sign) was the owner. Love Street showed light shows in the Zonk Out room and featured a number of psychedelic bands from the 60's. Another cool fact is Love Street was one of the first places that ZZ Top performed.

When you are out and about, take time to stop and ask a few questions. This way you not only learn about the beautiful city that we call home, but you get to know some of the amazing people that make Houston feel like home!

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