Before an evening storm dumped even more water on us, Saturday was all sunshine, a perfect day for biking in Houston. Which was good timing for the first Houston Bike Plan meeting, an info session with city workers and Bike Houston volunteers hoping to get cyclists engaged in the process of drafting Houston's first bicycle master plan in 20 years (the next meeting is this Thursday at the Kashmere Multi-Service Center).
It was a time for cyclists to air ideas as well as grievances, and a curious complaint kept coming up. Why is there shit all over the Lamar bike lane? Not garbage, not litter, but literal feces.
We've already written here about why it's difficult to really celebrate the much-lauded bright green bike lane officials opened up downtown on Lamar Street in March. Sure, it's a very clear sign that city officials at least want to make cycling through downtown a safer affair. Still, the whole lane isn't even open, the way it's set up is arguably just as risky as biking alongside street traffic, and cars – including police cruisers – kept parking in the lane.
Then came the horse-mounted cops. For the past month, long stretches of the lane have been periodically peppered with horse poop. On a trip down the lane Saturday, there were turds sprinkled up and down Lamar Street.
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Yesterday we asked HPD spokesman John Cannon about it. And, after he talked with the lieutenant overseeing the HPD's mounted patrol division, he gave us this response: Oops.
Cannon said HPD officials were unaware that mounted patrols frequented the lane (typically they travel on sidewalks downtown, Cannon said). And regardless, he said, they're supposed to clean up after the horse or, if busy responding to an incident, put in a call with the city for a poop-scooper.
“It was just an oversight, and now it's being taken care of,” Cannon told us Monday.
So, put this one in the win column, Houston cyclists. You might still face the daily threat of car-on-bike collisions. Hit-and-runs on cyclists might still be rampant in this town. But your safe, protected bike lane downtown will no longer be a minefield of literal HPD horse shit.