Gulfton ? How Technology and Partnerships Paved the Way for Vision Zero Success?

Hillcroft Avenue is a main thoroughfare in Houston?s Gulfton neighborhood. It featured a crash rate twice the state average compared to similar urban roadways – often involving vehicles colliding with pedestrians and cyclists with severe or fatal results. Together for Safer Roads (TSR) partnered with the City of Houston and Houston Mayor Turner?s Complete Communities program on a project that would dramatically redesign Hillcroft Avenue into a safer, more equitable roadway. 

Read Gulfton tech memo ici.

This groundbreaking project highlighted the importance of organizing public-private partnerships to understand how to best address road safety issues. The collaboration included: TSR, Connect Community, Houston Planning and Development and Public Works departments, DKS Associates, Transoft Solutions, TEI Planning + Design, and Anheuser-Busch, among others. 

  • Wider sidewalks
  • Shared-use bikeways 
  • New traffic signals for pedestrian access 
  • Improved access to METRO stops (public transportation) 
  • Reduction of general purpose vehicular travel lanes from 8 to 6 

A plan was put into place based on a before-study analysis, and Hillcroft Avenue now features: 

Gulfton residents travel by foot, bike and bus more than any others in the Houston area. The willingness of Houston to undertake a difficult challenge through a unique partnership with the private sector that deploys leading-edge technology is delivering to residents increased mobility and safety. Residents can now move across Hillcroft Avenue without fear as they go to work, the grocery store or visit friends and family. 

The success of Hillcroft Avenue not only resides in the collaboration of the public-private partnership, but also in the important use of technology – specifically an innovative, quick action before-and-after study to provide early indication of the impact of the Hillcroft Avenue projects and strategies. Using video analytics to identify road user speeds, trajectories, and conflicts, the study team was able to quantify ? just a few weeks after completion ? safety-related benefits of the project, especially for people walking, biking, and rolling. 

The reallocation of roadway space has led to motor vehicle speed reductions of 5 to 10 MPH. This has a significant effect on injury outcomes should a collision occur, especially if pedestrians and cyclists are involved. The reduced speeds mean improvements to crash severity as well as overall decrease in crashes on Hillcroft Avenue. Additionally, pedestrians crossing at the designated crosswalks and intersections has improved following completion of the project. 

Hillcroft Avenue is proof of how positive change can occur on our roads by integrating public-private partnerships and quick-action analysis to increase safety, and should be considered a strong model for replication in other road-safety initiatives in major cities throughout the U.S.

Read the full technical memo, provided by DKS Associates and Transoft Solutions, ici.