Critical Mass Bike Ride Angering Some Houstonians
Of course, there are those against the petition, who say that Critical Mass is doing something positive for the cycling community and it's just a handful of rotten apples who are making the entire organization look bad. Others applaud Critical Mass for its efforts to bring more awareness to cycling and say that "traffic is traffic," which cannot be blamed on the cycling group.
Kyle Nielsen, another prominent rider with Critical Mass Houston, who has been a part of the group since 2007, understands some of the frustration but mentions that the group is actively working to improve the ride for everyone involved. Those improvements include driving through neighborhoods that are more "receptive" and changing stops from bars to grocery shops to encourage safer riding.
Nielsen adds that the road goes both ways, so to speak, and Critical Mass riders have been struck down by motorists in the past when managing the streets alone. Nielsen recalls one 2009 fatality, in particular, of a Critical Mass regular who was hit by a car. According to the Web site bicyclinginfo.org, 677 riders died due to run-ins with cars in 2011. Because there is safety in numbers, Critical Mass deems itself a haven for cyclists.
"Critical Mass is one of the safest places for a cyclist to ride on the road. Maybe someday we'll reach a point where infrastructure, public policy and public sentiment provide some significant protection for cyclists, but until then I will continue to participate in this event," says Nielsen.
For now, the group will actively work with the city and hope that this quells some of the recent criticism. And as far as those who are still very upset with the group, Garcia invites them to come ride.
"The best way to understand the Mass," Garcia says, "is to be a part of it."
If you want to take Garcia up on his offer, Critical Mass meets at 6:30 p.m. the last Friday of the month at Market Square. Additionally, participants who are interested in the cause (positively or negatively) can join the group's Facebook page and partake in the plethora of bike rides and events happening all over the city, including the upcoming 2nd Annual HTX Bike Fest, which will be held on November 16 at Market Square Park.