Five Ways You Can Help Improve Houston Traffic

You can help cut down on this.
You can help cut down on this. Photo by Doogie Roux
Houstonians spend a lot of time grumbling about what the government could and should be doing to improve the traffic conditions in our city. We talk about expanding freeways, filling potholes, trying alternate forms of transportation and increasing public transit options.

But, we can help the situation as well. Sure, TxDot may deal with freeway construction and METRO is responsible for public transportation, but we are the ones getting in the cars and hopping on the METROrail. There are things we can do to help slow the spread of traffic, some easier than others.

Try some form of ride sharing.

Thousands of Houstonians use METRO Park and Ride services to get into town from the suburbs. Thousands of others car pool with coworkers and help shuttle kids to school. It's one of the under the radar ways of getting people off the roads, but more could certainly participate. And while you're at it, consider taking an Uber Pool sometime. You might make a new friend.

Take alternate routes.

Wherever you go, whether it be to work or to the beach, one of the real benefits of Houston is the dozens of possible routes to virtually any destination. Pull up Google Maps (or go old school with a key map) and find some ways around traffic, even if they take slightly longer because they often feel much less taxing when you don't have to sit, stuck in a snarl of traffic. Plus, you learn more about the city and look really cool to your friends and family members when you take some magical back way home.

Live closer to work or opposite of traffic.

OK, in fairness, this isn't always possible, but if you are planning to move, why not consider a place that makes more sense when it comes to work, the place most of us go at least five times every week. This doesn't necessarily mean moving inside the Loop either. Lots of people work in the medical center or on the west side or in The Woodlands or Clear Lake. Find a place that makes your commute easier and, hopefully, shorter. The stress alone is worth it.

Choose alternatives to driving whenever possible.

People who tout rail, biking, walking and other forms of transportation often do so as if it is a foregone conclusion everyone should be doing it every day. But for many, it is impractical at best, impossible at worst. Still, there are ways you can incorporate it without giving up driving. Next time you want to go to something you can reach via METROrail, park somewhere convenient and take the rail. Parking will likely be much easier. Also, bring a bike with you to events and use it go move around. Even just walking to the store for small things instead of driving is good for your health and for congestion.

Don't drive distracted or drunk.

This would seem to go without saying, but every day someone gets in a wreck because he or she is wasted or texting or both. The accident may not end up being life threatening (or it might), but wherever it happens, you become responsible for thousands of pissed off Houstonians who have to wait for your wreck to clear. Don't be that person.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke