Anytime Estimate recently released a study that ranked 50 major U.S. cities based on how bike-friendly they were. Based on certain factors — such as the number of biking trails available in a city — Houston ranked 29 out of 50 cities, putting it in front of other Texas towns like Dallas and San Antonio.

This ranking comes as Houston has undertaken efforts and initiatives to make the city more attractive and accessible to bicyclists. This includes the Build 50 challenge, which kicked off in 2018 and aims to construct at least 50 miles of bike facilities so that Houston can become a gold-level bicycle-friendly city by 2027. 

Here is what cyclists need to know about cycling in Houston and where to find the most bike-friendly neighborhoods in the city.

Bike-Friendly Infrastructure in Houston

In many of the neighborhoods and areas identified as being bike-friendly, cyclists in Houston will find one or more of the following features:

Bike Lanes

Houston is creating an ever-increasing number of bicycle lanes on its roads in an effort to make it safer for bicyclists to share the city streets with motor vehicle traffic. While they offer no other physical barrier or protection to keep motorists from straying into them, these lanes are meant solely for use by cyclists.

Trails For Bicyclists and Pedestrians

There are numerous trails throughout Houston, some as short as just a few miles and others that are dozens of miles long. These trails are not designed for use by motor vehicles, so bicyclists who use them will not encounter cars or trucks sharing these routes. Trails like these work to reduce the overall likelihood of bicycle accidents in Houston

An Interconnected Bikeway

Houston has invested heavily in creating an interconnected bikeway system that runs for 345 miles and covers an area of 500 square miles. As the network continues to expand and develop, community leaders intend to link these bike facilities to area schools, activities, parks, and other attractions.

Best Neighborhoods To Bike in Houston

There are several neighborhoods in Houston that bicyclists can enjoy. Even the areas that allow for other forms of wheeled traffic have features that are designed to make bicycling safer. 

Some of the best areas in Houston to bike include:

Downtown Houston

The busy downtown area of any city, much less one as large as Houston, may not seem hospitable to two-wheeled traffic. However, the recent addition of designated bicycle lanes has made riding in Downtown Houston safer. 

Bicyclists can use these designated lanes to help maintain a safe distance between themselves and other motor vehicles. Additionally, these lanes connect Downtown with other areas of the city.

The creation of these bike lanes comes as both a welcome and essential addition for cyclists in Houston. One of the downsides of being a cyclist in the city is that it is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in any business district in Houston. These bike lanes make it possible for cyclists to enjoy this bustling area just as pedestrians and motorists can.

Greater East End

Bicyclists who travel east from Downtown will enter neighborhoods like Second Ward, Eastwood, and EaDo, collectively called the Greater East End. Bike lanes have increased in number on the streets in this area, making these roads some of the most bicyclist-friendly in Houston. 

Bicyclists who venture into this neighborhood will also find the Harrisburg Hike and Bike Trail, a five-mile-long bikeway that is part dedicated bike trail and part on-street bike path.

Rice Military and The Heights

Between the areas of Rice Military and the Heights, you’ll find the White Oak Bayou Trail, a 17-mile dedicated bicycle trail. Riders can appreciate the views of Downtown as they travel one of Houston’s longest bicycle trails. 

The Museum District

Like Downtown, there are plenty of bicycle lanes throughout the Museum District, making the area accessible for riders. Like other areas of Houston, traffic in the Museum District can get congested. But bicycle lanes can help put space between bicyclists and motorists. 

Those who travel by bike to this area can easily reach places like the McGovern Centennial Gardens, the Japanese Garden, and Hermann Park. The streets in this district are also quite picturesque, as they are lined with trees and surrounded by interesting buildings. 

Greater Heights

The historic district of Greater Heights boasts dedicated bike paths that help cyclists appreciate the neighborhood’s sights from relative safety. In addition, Greater Heights is also home to the Heights Hike and Bike Trail, a trail that runs for 4.6 miles and connects with other parks, such as White Oak Bayou and Donovan Park.

How Bicyclists in Houston Can Remain Safe

No matter the neighborhood you find yourself in, bicycling safely in Houston is possible if you take certain precautions. 

For example, you’ll want to make sure that you:

  • Use a bike lane when one is available
  • Ride as far to the right as you safely can if no bike lane is present
  • Wear a properly fitted helmet at all times and encourage your children to do the same
  • Obey all traffic laws, including right-of-way laws
  • Be observant of motor vehicle traffic, as drivers may not see you

Bicyclists should also use hand signals to alert motorists and others of their intended movements.

The Future of Bicycling in Houston, TX

Houston’s large size and busy roadways may make the city seem unfriendly to bicyclists. But while the city has room for improvement, it has already made significant strides to make a number of its neighborhoods open and welcoming for bicyclists. 

This includes areas like the Museum District, Downtown, and Greater Heights, some of which boast dedicated bike lanes and are connected to bike trails. Further planned improvements can reasonably be expected to make it easier for cyclists to navigate the city and increase bicyclist safety on the roads.