The Houston City Council adopted an ordinance Wednesday that makes it illegal to block or park a motor vehicle in a dedicated bicycle lane, even if a “no parking” sign or similar signage is not present.
The ordinance is in support of the Houston Bike Plan, which the council adopted in 2017 with the goal of making the city more bike-friendly and accessible by 2027. It also is part of the city’s “Vision Zero” initiative to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.
The new law applies only to dedicated bike lanes, which are portions of a roadway separated from vehicle traffic with striping or physical barriers for the exclusive use of cyclists. It does not apply to on-street bikeways that are shared with vehicles or on roads where the city permits on-street parking, such as Washington Avenue.
“This is a crucial step towards creating a safer and more accessible city for all!” council member Abbie Kamin, who represents part of the area in District C, wrote Wednesday on Twitter.
A news release from the city said citations for violating the ordinance will carry a $100 fine. In the ordinance language on the council agenda item, it says the offense has a fine range between $1-$200.
First-time offenders can have the fine waived by meeting with a hearing officer and taking a bike-friendly driver training class, according to the city, which said there will be a 90-day warning period associated with the new ordinance.
“We have listened to bicyclists throughout our city, and we are taking this step to protect them and keep the lanes clear to everyone to enjoy,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a statement. “The ordinance is an opportunity to promote safety and educate those who park in dedicated bicycle lanes without realizing how it impedes access. Together, we can balance the needs of drivers and bicyclists in our city.”