Tireless bicyclist/pedestrian advocate helped The Energy Corridor create an urban trails network with few peers
Reading the list of accolades for Steve Moskowitz is like going on a bike ride with the man. It’s eye opening. And long. It makes one wonder just what could be accomplished with a small sliver of Moskowitz’s vigorous enthusiasm for volunteerism, social action, family and faith.
Take note, underachievers (your writer included). This is a man who’s been honored with not one but three lifetime achievement awards from major organizations that have leaned mightily on his mantra “Late to bed, early to rise and organize.”
Now after 12 years of service on The Energy Corridor District’s Board of Directors, Moskowitz is moving on to “organize” new challenges.
“Steve has been a big part of The District’s mission to create a more livable place,” explains Clark Martinson, general manager of The Energy Corridor District. “He has done more to promote bicycling than anyone I have met in Houston. You have to hammer your pedals hard to keep up with Steve, whether following his lead as a volunteer or on a bike.”
Ask Moskowitz how he should be remembered for a decade-plus worth of work with The District and he’ll tell you to get on your bike or pull on some running shoes.
“We set out when The District was really just beginning to develop a place where people can bike, hike and walk for miles,” Moskowitz says. “It’s remarkable to think that The Energy Corridor now has one of the best trail networks around. You can run two marathons on the trails here.”
The former marathoner turned avid cyclist smiles as he talks about The District’s work with the National Park Service to establish the West Houston Trails Master Plan – a proposal that envisions doubling the 50 miles of trails people can now bike and walk every day in The Energy Corridor.
Moskowitz joined The District’s board in 2003, a few years after the Texas Legislature created it, to represent ConocoPhillips, one of the largest property owners in The Energy Corridor.
“Back then, few would’ve imagined that The District would become such a strong advocate for building trails and creating safe places to walk and bike,” he says.
Standing outside on the grounds of ConocoPhillips’ sprawling campus – where he has managed security, operations and maintenance since 2002 – Moskowitz points past the stark white buildings where a wide, sun-splashed trail tops Addicks Dam heading west towards Langham Creek, linking the tree-lined paths beyond in Terry Hershey Park.
“Connecting trails is vitally important,” says Moskowitz. “Creating more trail access and connections can bring in more riders from more neighborhoods. Whether you want to ride 50 miles for fitness or just bicycle to work, there are a lot more opportunities to do that now in The Energy Corridor.”
Building safer, redesigned pedestrian crosswalks at major intersections is another program Moskowitz hopes will continue to blossom. The District is currently designing six major intersection enhancements under IH-10 with enhanced pedestrian ramps, crosswalks, signal improvements and lighting, while adding safety and aesthetic enrichments. Construction on the $2.6 million project will begin in 2016.
“There are so many reasons to promote safe bicycling and walking in The Energy Corridor,” Moskowitz explains. “People want to know they can hike and bike safely, whether for recreation or to commute to work. It creates a healthier place, encourages people to get out of their cars, and helps companies here recruit talent.
“If you provide safer, more comfortable riding environments then you’ll encourage more people to get on their bikes,” he explains.
That contention is backed by a study from Portland State University and the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It found that 39 percent of potential Austin bicyclists said they’d be willing to ride a bicycle or ride more often if bike path conditions improved and they felt more comfortable (safer) on the road.
Moskowitz “bikes” the talk when it comes to promoting cycling as a way to commute. For 11 years, Moskowitz was a Bike Champion for The District’s annual Bike to Work Day, leading groups of cyclists across the pre-dawn streets of the city into The Energy Corridor. He regularly co-hosted “lunch and learn” sessions, promoting Bike to Work Day participation and feeding riders safety and route tips.
“It’s hard to imagine our board without Steve,” says Martinson. “His vision, his commitment to changing lives for the better, his dedication to volunteering even when most would say their plate was overflowing, his positive attitude, these are the qualities that make up this rare individual who has influenced so many.
“We will miss Steve,” Martinson says. “He's a doer, and a guy I wouldn’t attempt to leave behind on one of his way-too-fast bike rides.”
For a more detailed profile on Moskowitz, check out “Few ‘Pay it Forward’ Like Steve Moskowitz, a Man Who Doesn’t Believe in Spare Time,” from The District’s April 2015 newsletter here.