I would emphasize a few points about Houston driving:
#1 Ignore Defensive Driving rules, all Houstonians do.
#2 Do not use your blinker until you are halfway into the lane you want.
#3 Wave with all five fingers.
Far from the Wild-Wild-West and Horse Back Riding- This is the highway capital of the world (well ok maybe I'm exaggerating here)- But you'll need a car defintley to get anywhere. You'll find plenty of Car rental spots scattered accross the city..the question is, how do you get to them? ;-)
Lots of Cab companies available, but you can get stranded someplace if you don't have a phone to call a Cab to pick you, and even then you'll be stranded until they arrive...normally takes long...that's of course if no one else steals the cab once it arrives(Happened twice to us!)
Houston is way too BIG. Everything is so spread out... commute anywhere will take some time due to construction and also because we have more trucks than you can shake a stick at. :) hehehe. sorry, bad joke.
Bottom line, highly recommend renting a car in order to travel around the city.
After being a pedestrian for a year in this city,
you must have a car to LIVE in Houston.
Taxi cabs here are overpriced and the year-round climate is not favourable to the outdoor adventurer. There are wonderful sites to see here, but they are all far away from each other.
You can drive for an hour and still not leave the city limits!
You need a car to go around Houston. Rent one if you are a tourist. Get a good map, and it is easy to find your way around. It will help to know the names of the freeways, in addition to their numbers (ex: I-10 W = Kathy freeway; beltway 8 = Sam Houston freeway, etc... go see my map in the introduction!).
You will always find easy free parking in Houston. That's the least the city could do: with no decent common transportation, at least it is easy to park! The only exceptions, however, are Downtown during weekdays, and Medical Center all the time where parking can cost more then $10 an hour.
Unfortunately, Houston has no real public transporation system.
The light rail, which will be completed in early 2004, will only serve those from downtown to Reliant Park. Although this includes the Museum District and the Medical Center, it does not include the Galleria area, NASA, and other outlying areas.
Though there is a bus system, you really need a car and a good map to get around in Houston.
The best situation is to know someone in Houston who can drive you to the places of interest.
Things to beware of when driving around Houston - A Quick Note:
The Galleria Area:
Stay away from 8:30-10AM, from 11:30-1:00PM and from 4:00-7:00pm. Traffic out tha' yin-yang.
I-10: This freeway sucks ALL the time, including Saturdays and Sundays. I haven't figured out where the @*!&%! all those people are going on a Saturday at 9:30AM - but there they are.
Downtown: Again, SUCKS right now. Maybe I can delete this entry in a couple of years when the "upgrades" are done. But for now its potholes, construction, horrible parking and confusion. Try to take the trolleys in or walk a few blocks to the entertainment area.
If you're going to spend a lot of time in Houston traveling around the city or you travel there often, get an EZTag and drive the Sam Houston beltway and Hardy tollroad. They charge you a buck a month to rent it but the convenience is worth it and you can monitor your usage on the web.
The 610 loop is horrific. Avoid if all possible.
Houston is very spread out, and the only public transportation is buses, so you'll need a car. The city's laid out logically enough, but street names tend to change as you move from one part of the city to another. The freeway system is generally well marked, but check your directions ahead of time. Houston drivers can be quite agressive, so driving here is for the brave and heavily insured. The unwritten local traffic custom, known by all Houstonians, is that when approaching an intersection with a traffic light, green means green, yellow means green, and red means 2 more cars.
If you're not in Texas, FLY!!!
(and flying from Dallas can be worth it)
Drive!! Cabs are expensive and impossible to find; public transportation consists of a scary and unreliable bus system. Probably the worst transportation in any major US city. Houston is 70mi. across: realise you will be doing LOTS of driving from place to place. Don't drive during rush hour, Houston drivers are crazier than Michigan drivers.
Getting around you'll have to rent a car. Our bus system here isn't what it should be for a major city. However, you can take city bus from the airport to downtown Houston. Recently the city added inner-city 'trolleys' that will get you from one end of town to the other.
The only way to get around Houston is by car. The public transportation system is dismal at best. It had been one of my major complaints about Houston. It consists of the bus. If you want to take the bus, you'll need about 3-4x the amount of time to get from place to place. There are also a lot of shady people that ride the bus.
Well, based on other entries I read here, it looks like there are times when these lanes are full of traffic...
but at this particular moment, what a lovely drive on wide open space!!
Unless you're going to one of the few place serviced by public transportation, expect to DRIVE everywhere.....