Driving in cities varies according to each cities geography, social layout, and hot spots. The traffic issues have a major impact on how a city manages its transportation issues, and that is why public transport systems don't cover the needs of the many. This is why rideshare has become so popular since it provides a personalized solution to a time old problem; how do I get from where I am to where I want to be? So here at RSF, I decided to start preparing guides for my readers, comprehensive insights into anything and everything rideshare related.
RSF City Guides for Drivers
This series will look at specific cities and focus on issues that are related to each and every city. Take into account that all information provided will change over time. Cities tend to change their transportation routes, and business, as well as social locations, move around.
Houston is the 4th most populous city in the US and has a population of 2.3 million people. Houston is a sub-tropical city, which means plenty of rain and flooding. It is also a major conventions city with proximity to sites such as Galveston and NASA and one of the world's largest medical centers that attract thousands of visitors from all over the world.
- Morning rush hour Monday-Friday, 6 – 9 am
- Afternoon rush hour Monday-Friday, 3 – 8 pm
- Weekend late night Friday and Saturday, 5 pm - 3am
Nightlife starts as early at 5 pm and lasts until 3 am. The highest demand is usually in Downtown, Midtown, and Montrose.
- George Bush Airport
- William P Hobby Airport
- NRG Park
- Minute Maid Park
- Houston Medical Center
- Toyota Center
- Minute Maid Park
- BBVA Compass Stadium
- Concerts and conferences
- George R. Brown Convention Center
- Discovery Green
- Revention Music Center
- House of Blues
The top destinations for Uber Passengers in Houston (Not in any specific order)
- Kung Fu Saloon, 5317 Washington Avenue
- Regis Hotel, 1919 Briar Oaks Land
- Wells Fargo Plaza, 1000 Louisiana Street
- OKRA Charity Saloon, 924 Congress Avenue
- Four Seasons Hotel Houston, 1300 Lamar Street
- House of Blues, 1204 Caroline Street
- Amli 2121, 2121 Allen Parkway
- Pub Fiction, 2303 Smith Street #100
- Hyatt Regency Houston, 1200 Louisiana Street
- Hotel Zaza, 5701 Main Street
- The Dogwood, 2403 Bagby Street
- Little Woodrow's, 2306 Brazos Street
- Hilton Americas Hotel, 1600 Lamar Street
- The Galleria, 5085 Westheimer Road
- Minute Maid Park, 501 Crawford Street
- Toyota Center, 1510 Polk Street
- NRG Stadium, Reliant Parkway
- Hobby Airport, 7800 Airport Boulevard
- George Bush Intercontinental Airport, 2800 N Terminal Road
Know your highway names
Dint rely on numbers in Houston, roads have names, just like pets, and we like to keep them happy, or they might bite back. Here is a list of names and numbers to be memorized, you will be tested on a daily basis:
Katy Freeway: part of I-10 that is west of I-45
Baytown Freeway: part of I-10 that is east of I-45
Southwest Freeway: part of US 59 that is south of I-45
Eastex Freeway: part of US 59 that is north of I-45
Inner Loop (or 610 Loop): I-610 but has different names for different sections:
North Loop: part of 610 that is between Highway 290 and Highway 90 just north of downtown
North Loop West: the stretch between 290 and I-45
Outer Loop: Sam Houston Parkway (or Sam Houston Tollway) is State Highway Beltway 8
Alternative Route Tips
East West alternative: Never take the west belt, it's very bad for driving, avoid at all costs, take the San Felipe instead. Take the San Felipe from the 610 and just drive on towards Kirby, this turns into Allen parkway. If you get on the San Felipe, you will be headed to Galleria or Downtown.
Downtown shortcuts: If you come from the north via the Hardy Toll Road, just exit the road and drive onto Hardy street. Take the Hardy street exit which turns in Elysian and then into Crawford. Finally, you turn onto La Branch on the east side of downtown. Its better and faster than taking the 610.
Another way to avoid the ever congested 610 is to take Hardy street to Cavalcade, you turn right to get on the I-45, or you can take the left access to the US-59.
Shortcut to Hobby Airport: Bypass the Gulf Freeway, or the I-45 by getting on the SH-288 southbound until you reach the ramp to 610 south loop eastbound. Then take a right on Telephone, and that will get you to Hobby. Airport boulevard will take you directly to the terminal
Getting out of town fast: Go early, before 6am.
Remember that the earlier you leave home in the morning, the quicker you will get to where you want to go, however, since most Uber drivers rely on requests, this tip is irrelevant. The main issue that faces rideshare drivers in Houston is the getting to pickup time. Everyone native to Houston knows that driving around is a long-term affair. That is why being an Uber driver in Houston requires you to have excellent social skills. You will be rated on the entertainment value, after all, to drive from one side of Houston to another can be like taking a flight from Houston to NYC.
The 15 (bad) rules of driving in Houston
- Don't stop at a yield sign, just ease your way in, merge, don't stop or you will cause a massive pile up and get blacklisted from driving in Houston for life.
- Driver faster then you are, if you can, don't drive slower than the traffic, always try to get ahead. The faster you go, the faster the congestion will ease up. Always stay in the right lane for granny carts if your wont drive fast. The most annoying thing is a slow driver in the left lane.
- While you might think that you need to wait for a full green light, not in Houston, if you aren't on the other side of the intersection when the light is yellow then you will be honked. Also, if there is no way forward due to congestion, then go sideways, but go, or else.
- Don't look at the other drivers, only their cars. The road is about driving not hot bod hunting. You definitely don't want to get anyone angry or even flip anyone that even flipped you. You will both end up packed together in a traffic jam, and then things get ugly.
- No cutting, even when the line is long on the way to 45 South from I-10. If you cut someone off, you are bargaining with the devil, and you will lose. Remember, this is Houston not LA, we don't cut people off here and live to tell about it. Oh, and police officers like to fine cutters, just like they like to jail sex offenders (get the point!)
- Bikers are the sons of God or the devil, depends on which ones you decide to challenge. Cyclists will swarm you like a hive of angry wasps and bikers will deal with you later, they know where you live.
- Houston is all about anger; it is an angry city with angry drivers. Every morning, after prayers and kissing the kids to school, drivers turn into any one of their other persona's, axe murders, chainsaw killers, etc. So, drive nicely, carefully and hope you reach your destination in one piece.
- Don't drive on the right if you are not turning right. If you stand at a traffic light when in the right lane you will not reach the other side alive.
- Don't be a fender bender or roadkill, drive, put your foot on the gas pedal and forget the brakes. Don't stop, just drive, or you will end up being beaten down and driven over, or worse.
- Know your way, don't be one of those wanderers that aimlessly search for an address while blocking traffic. You will be shot! Either invest in Waze or use the Uber navigator, don't rely on your own knowledge and make sure you know where to turn when to turn and how fast to turn.
- Feeders in Houston are the local equivalent of frontage or service roads. Here they are one way. Remember that. Also, Waze and other GPS sometimes don't factor in feeder roads, so you need to know them by heart. Don't rely on GPS for feeder driving. If you make a wring turn, you will extend the ride by a minimum of 15 minutes and have a very irate passenger.
- Prepare your car for the Houston weather and remember, we get floods here too. Houston is sub-tropical, this means that at certain times of day the sky opens up and you get showered. This is a fast and furious waterfall and causes flash flooding, so be prepared.
- When you plan on time, even if Waze say's 15 minutes, it will be more, the difference can be between 10% to 100%. If it rains bank on double time to get anywhere. Highway 290 is prone to flooding, try to avoid it if possible.
- Houston is a huge metropolitan area that covers over 8,700 miles and is bigger than the state of New Jersey. 610 Loop is about 42 miles long, and Beltway 8 is around 88 miles in length. So, remember, driving times in Houston are longer than most other places.
- Go to the restroom before you attempt to drive from one side to another, you will also need refreshments too.
- Houston is pronounced YEWS-TUN.
- Houston has its own traffic laws, and downtown Houston is a maze of one-way streets. If you want to get out of the city center, head of Dallas and don't turn back.
- All routes start with, "Go down Westheimer…"
- Westheimer is special; it has no beginning and no end.
- If you think you can go around the block, forget it, you never end up on the street, you started out on. Houston is the twilight driving zone.
- Remember that reversible lane is an enigma to everyone, even the designers.
- Even in a city of rain such as Houston, when the first drop hits the road, traffic stops, and people suddenly become careful drivers.
- Construction is permanent and moves around with a life of its own.
- Construction crews close down all lanes except one during rush hour to show how hard they are working.
- If you see a car blinking, it means the driver forgot to turn it off after buying the car that morning.
- All women with pink or blue hair who drive either a Cadillac or Lincoln Continentals have the right of way. They also have special license to turn right from a left lane and left from a right lane as well as drive 5 mph at any given moment.
- If you see an elderly man driving a snazzy sports car, usually a convertible, don't expect him to stop at red lights or even drive slowly, he only has one gear: Turbo.
- Don't rely on a street map, use Waze and also question it. The only way to succeed in Houston is to drive around for 12 hours a day for 6 months learning every route possible and then realizing you only did Montrose.
- Don't ask for a Pepsi; In Houston, we only drink Coca Cola and Dr. Pepper.