While not nearly as ambitious as the programs scheduled to be unveiled in the next year in Los Angeles or New York, Houston's federally funded system is expected to bring more than 200 bikes to areas between downtown and the Texas Medical Center by year's end. For Mayor Annise Parker, "an occasional bicyclist," the centrally-focused program, "may help familiarize residents with downtown, an area she said many still consider 'foreign territory.'"
While limited in its initial scope, the program signals a key cultural shift in the way Houstonians think about their built environment.
"'People want to live, work, play and eat close to one another and not be in their car as much,' city sustainability director Laura Spanjian said, citing a recent Rice University study that found most respondents wanted to live in compact, walkable communities. 'The love affair with the car is finally over, and providing alternatives to help people get around in the urban environment will be increasingly important.'"