Despite high transit ridership, Gulfton’s obstructed sidewalks challenge connectivity

Kinder Institute report summarizes audit of southwest Houston neighborhood

Despite having the highest public transit ridership in the city, 59 percent of the street segments connecting Gulfton residents to public transit stops have some type of obstruction such as broken pavement or tree and shrub overgrowth, according to a new report from Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Photo of woman walking in Houston's Gulfton's neighborhood.

Photo by Sandra Rodriguez

Safe Streets, Safe Communities: Walking and Biking Infrastructure in Gulfton” is a supplement to a September 2018 report about transportation safety in the southwest Houston neighborhood. It summarizes a recent walk audit conducted by the Kinder Institute during the summer and fall of 2018 in collaboration with resident volunteers and community leaders. The audit assessed availability and conditions of sidewalks, bikeways and other elements such as street lighting and building conditions.

“Houston’s Gulfton neighborhood has the potential to be a more walkable neighborhood because various community resources, commercial activities, schools and residential units are often within walking or biking distance, but between 2010 and 2017, nearly 150 people died or were injured walking around the neighborhood,” said Dian Nostikasari, one of the Kinder Institute researchers who developed this report.

Other takeaways from the walk audit:

  • Of the 486 street segments in the neighborhood, 36 percent do not have sidewalks.
  • Forty-one percent of the existing sidewalks have some kind of obstruction, such as gaps, parked cars and overgrowth of trees or shrubs.
  • Only 6 percent of segments have either signage or striping that indicate a shared bike route or dedicated bikeways.
  • Of the 183 intersections assessed, 43 percent do not have ramp access on both sides of the crossing.

“Information about availability and conditions of walking and biking infrastructure can be used to inform agencies and decision-makers when making future investments in a particular neighborhood,” the report said.

The researchers plan to conduct assessments in other neighborhoods and make the data available to the public through the Houston Community Data Connections platform.

Kinder Institute researchers Grant Patterson, Gabriel Malek, Isabela Walkin, Gelila Haile and Kyle Shelton contributed to the supplemental report. It is available online at

About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.