The 11th Street corridor in Houston’s Heights neighborhood was recently rebuilt to make it safer for bicyclists and pedestrians to cross.
A month later, some business owners say these improvements are now making it more difficult for customers to access their businesses.
Dany Ou has been baking and selling donuts and kolaches at her shop, Bakery Donut Fresh Bake Daily, located along 11th and Dorothy Street, for 26 years.
Ou said she has noticed a drop in customers about a month ago.
Around the same time, the City of Houston put in a bike lane and added a pedestrian refuge island as part of the 11th Street Safety Improvement Project, to help manage crashes, speeding, and difficulties for pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the street. The project spans a 1.5-mile stretch of 11th Street from Shepherd to Michaux.
Ou said the change affects her dough because if you’re driving east down 11th, you can no longer turn left into her parking lot because of the pedestrian island. Drivers now have to drive past her business to try to make a U-turn.
“I lose everyday because of the left lane for the customer who doesn’t know us. At least 20-25% every day,” she said.
Daddy’s Chicken Shack is right next to Ou’s donut shop. General manager Larry Norman said he’s also noticed a drop in business between 4 and 6 p.m., which is peak time.
“So now, because of the construction with the median, it makes it harder for people to come in because you have to figure out if I’m going to wait 20 to 30 minutes in that line to get to Daddy’s Chicken Shack, and a lot of times it’s like “no,” Norman said.
Norman said he is all for road safety, but not at the expense of his business, which opened six months ago.
“I just wish they would have made it fair for everybody, beneficial for everybody, not just the cyclists and the walkers,” he said.
Ou says her loyal customers are keeping the doors open for now, but she worries about the future.
David Fields, the City of Houston’s Chief Transportation Planner sent KPRC2 the following statement:
“The 11th Street Safety Project was a response from community members who wanted the street redesigned to prioritize safety and multimodal access. 11th Street just east of Shepherd was one of the biggest hot spots for crashes, mainly due to left turns so close to the major intersection, which is the cause of the median. Travel patterns typically change during construction, which is not yet complete along 11th Street. To ensure the project creates the safe, multimodal street the community asked for, the city is monitoring both crash data and sales tax revenue, which will help determine if additional design adjustments are needed after construction is complete and travel returns to normal in the area. “
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