Alternatives to Driving...Even in Houston

It may not be this bad every day, but even a fraction of this is worth avoiding.
It may not be this bad every day, but even a fraction of this is worth avoiding. Google Maps
Houston is a car city. There is really no changing that mainly because it is huge and the easiest way to get around is on a freeway in a car. That doesn't mean all of us can't find ways to avoid getting behind the wheel for the benefit of traffic and our own health. And let's be honest, there are some other really good reasons for not driving around Houston. We offer some suggestions for common car trips and how to avoid them while still getting the job done.

Reason for Driving: Work
Alternative: Park and Ride

Mass transportation is sadly neither plentiful nor popular for Houstonians. The lack of a world-class mass transit system only serves to exacerbate our traffic problems. But one wildly popular METRO offering is Park and Ride. For decades, folks living well outside central Houston have driven to a nearby Park and Ride facility and taken the bus into town. It isn't a perfect solution if you don't work in either downtown or the Medical Center (or the Galleria), but it beats being stuck in traffic for hours and hours in your car when you live in The Woodlands.

Reason for Driving: School
Alternative: Walk/Bike

In fairness, this isn't going to work for everyone. If your child has to cross a busy intersection or you live too far away, this can be tough. But lots of people, particularly those with kids in public schools, are only blocks from home. Still, we frequently see parents loading the kids up in the car to drive half a mile. Sure, no one wants to trudge through the rain, but on a sunny day, a walk or ride is good for your kid (and you too, if you decide to go along). Obviously, it isn't easy, but you won't have to remember which entrance to the parking circle is right in the morning versus the afternoon. Who came up with that logic anyway?

Reason for Driving: Grocery Store
Alternative: Instacart

Years and years ago, grocery delivery was commonplace. But, for decades, that went away in favor of supermarkets in most places. While the majority of us still head to the store on a regular basis, you might consider giving an app like Instacart a try on occasion. Instead of spreading your germs when you are sick, for example, have your cold meds and chicken soup brought to the door! Plus, if you are really swamped, nothing beats punching in some grocery items and having them in your fridge a couple hours later without having to leave the house. Nevermind the parking lot road rage you get to avoid.

Reason for Driving:
Going Out
Alternative: Lyft/Uber

It is difficult to gauge real stats when it comes to how many drunk people ride services like Lyft and Uber keep off the streets, but it has to be a lot in urban areas. Whatever the case, the cheaper fares (outside of surge pricing during busy times) and the convenience far outweigh the dangers of drinking and driving, for you and the rest of us. And, even if you aren't drinking, it's often just easier than driving around looking for a parking spot or paying for valet, which is annoyingly present at so many restaurants and bars.

Reason for Driving: Dining Out
Alternative: Delivery

And speaking of Uber, ever tried UberEats or one of the other digital options for food delivery? It's so much easier than driving out to get a sandwich at lunch. Now, maybe you want to get out of the office and that's totally fine, but getting food delivery is a great option when you don't want to brave the roads. The aforementioned valet parking alone probably absorbs the cost and you can drink your own wine and not even have to worry about driving (or Ubering!) later. Win-win!
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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