Photo by Heather Vidrine.
My first experience with Critical Mass, the pro-bicycle organization that takes to the streets monthly in droves, was about a decade ago when I was still living in New York City. I recall walking down Fifth Avenue on a Friday evening when a herd of bikers came careening down the avenue; there must have been a thousand of them. They hooted and hollered as they drove by, swerving past cabbies and town cars. It was quite a sight to see, and all the people on the sidewalk stopped what they were doing and reveled in the moment. I was awestruck.
Houston is no stranger to Critical Mass. The H-Town arm of the organization has been in existence since the early 2000s. The group meets up on the last Friday of each month starting at Market Square, and they proceed to take to the streets in an "organized/disorganized" fashion. Sometimes the route is planned, sometimes they wing it, but they always have a great time. It's a monthly party on bikes with a cause: bring awareness to car drivers that bikers are a part of the roads. For a long time, this didn't appear to be bothering anyone, but something has changed.
There is no denying that Houston's Critical Mass is growing in numbers. What used to be 100 to 150 riders can now be estimated at closer to 1,000 on certain monthly rides. This expansion can be attributed to several things -- greater awareness, heightened publicity, more people biking in general and the development of the city. Regardless of reason, Critical Mass has made some enemies, and they are trying to figure out the best course of action.More »