The Houston Bike Share Program is offering an alternative for the thousands of Houstonians who lost their cars to the Hurricane Harvey floodwaters.
A program called Keep Houston Rolling is collecting bicycles and accessories and delivering them to those in need. Bicycle manufacturers Trek and Giant donated 400 bicycles to the effort.
The program comes at a time when more than half a million vehicles were destroyed or damaged due to the floodwaters. For thousands of those who lost their vehicles, a new car purchase is prohibitively expensive. Rental car agencies are also charging higher rates for the few vehicles still available.
Those who might resort to public transportation are also out of luck. The city’s public transportation system does not cover many outlying areas, leaving thousands of workers unable to get to their jobs.
Carter Stern, executive director of Houston Bike Share, expressed his hopes that car-centered Houston can start evolving toward a more bicycle-friendly future.
“When I go to city meetings or talk with the community, there’s a lot of skepticism around using a bike for utilitarian purposes, not just for fun,” Stern told a national magazine. “But once you start using it to go to the store or go to work, you realize it’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s good, it’s relaxing.”
While the urban sprawl of Houston may prevent the full-scale replacement of the automobile, Stern claims the expanded use of bicycles give riders more options.
“I ride my bike to work three to four days a week, and that’s great,” Stern said. “I think viewing the mobility in a city less as a binary decision and more as giving people a healthy ecosystem of options–whether they want to ride their bike to work, ride their bike to the transit stop, drive their car and then ride their bike to lunch–whatever it is, giving people options.”