Houston "Biketivist" Targets Motorists Violating Passing Law

Photo by Camilo Smith
Dan Morgan is battling unsavory drivers with a flag and a pole.
You can call Dan Morgan a biketivist, but don't call him a bike vigilante, which is how he was referred to in a recent news report.

He's just trying to raise awareness for his fellow bicyclists who prefer to move around the city on two wheels instead of four. Armed with a flag that sticks out three feet from his bike, he's something of an inspiration to serious riders all around Houston.

Morgan, who has been supporting the local bike community for years, has repeatedly taken his mission to city hall, and last week showed off his three-foot flags to Mayor Annise Parker and City Council. The space requirement was made into law in the last year after numerous accidents involving bicycles and cars, and even several bicyclists' deaths. All of which really hits home for Morgan.

The "numbers" guy, who works for Dow Chemical, took to the roads this month and filmed drivers breaking into his three-foot bike-riding space.

After watching his video, it looks as if he's just doing this to make a point with impatient car drivers, when in fact it's more about protecting the lives of bicyclists in the city.

In Houston - less than 10 percent of the drivers involved in car/bike accidents get cited. Fewer than 20 percent of the drivers involved in fatal bike accidents get cited/convicted - and only about 5 percent actually get some form of punishment - which is usually probation of some sort......The city also has 1,000+ data points since January 2012 to tell US where we stand on the above data - they have yet to answer my very specific requests for this breakdown of this data........how they STILL think we don't have a MAJOR issue that needs action TODAY is beyond me.

Morgan, 47, wrote that on his Facebook page, which has been bombarded with comments in the past week. His video seems to be doing the trick, igniting impassioned conversation from motorists who are sick of this brand of "biketivism" and Morgan's supporters and fellow riders. The people in his camp think the city isn't doing enough to promote the "safe passing law," which the Houston Chronicle defines:

In May 2013, Houston City Council approved changes to local driving laws to protect bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. The "safe passing" ordinance says motorists must give them three feet of space and, when possible, switch lanes to avoid close contact. The buffer zone increases to six feet for commercial vehicles.

This according to Morgan wanted to appease the cycling community and made this dry PSA to get people to think about not crushing bicyclists.

Morgan says that according to city data, there were 472 accidents in 2012 and 452 in 2013.
And it's rarely the fault of overzealous cyclists, he says. "If cyclists are blindly running red lights here in Houston, we would have thousands of deaths here," Morgan says.

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Please do not lump all cyclist's together.  Critical Mass happens once a month and is its own entity.  I commute to work 8 miles 2-3 times a week through downtown from the Heights to UH main campus area.   I stop at every light and signal every turn, the 2 other random cyclists I saw this morning did the same thing.  I lead a bike ride on Saturday mornings and we usually have 10 to 20 people and again we signal and stop at all lights.  I do a ride on Wednesday nights and more of the same. 

Please take the time one day and watch at an intersection for a couple of light cycles and see how many times the light is run.  So by that account I am just to assume that every driver runs red lights.  I know this is absurd, but it is exactly the same thing.  If you come to a big pot hole, live animal, big piece of debris, etc. in a car you swerve around it.  I do the same on my bike and yes sometimes this takes me out of my lane.  If you just change your way of thinking a bit and just think of bicycles as part of traffic and not causing it, thinks might change.  I get stuck in the same traffic you do and incur the same delays you do.  Just remember that thing you see as a bike that you may come close to is a person.  The 3 foot law is also a protector of the car too.  What if by some random thing a cyclist in the bike lane goes down (for a mechanical reason) and if you are 3 feet away chances are you will not cause them anymore bodily harm.  If your too close and you run them over, now its a problem.  

Nobody is going anywhere I can promise you that, so now its just time to be accepting.  Is that 10 seconds delay that cyclist, going to work too, really effecting your commute?  It's just time we all learn to respect each other on the road.

Wayward Shepherd
Wayward Shepherd

At least he's taking action instead of just whining to himself and expecting someone else to do it!!! Go DAn Morgan!!!!


None of these ordinances will make a lick of difference until the infrastructure is updated to a Netherlands style system and a widespread, government sponsored educational program promoting and teaching proper safety. Simply painting a line on the road is not enough, because cars are still technically not allowed to pass at all, so why bother staying in the lane at all? The Dutch have it down right, but the success of their system is also predicated on all parties, motorist, bicyclists, and pedestrians all following the rules. If one party decides they are above the law, regardless of their mode of transportation, then the system will not work.


That's all well and good. Now it's time for cyclists to start ACTING like real vehicles if they want to get treated like real vehicles. Red lights and stop signs are there for a reason, use them. Also, you're much less visible than you think you are. If you try to sleaze up between and around cars when they're stopped, I might not even notice you're there until I'm crushing you with my truck. I don't want to crush you with my truck.


@GrowUpCyclists It would also be nice if these biketavists would not purposefully thrust themselves into my lane, endangering all parties involved, for the sake of the "raising awareness" while flailing about and cussing all nearby cars out. Its really hard to miss all 200 of you riding at the same time, fucking up the flow of every street you decide to show off on. I'm all for the harmony of cars and bikes on the streets and genuinely want everyone to be safe and respect each other. But I really lost lots of respect for this movement as a whole when I was well within my boundaries (about 5 feet from him) and a reckless biketavist seriously endangered a lot of people by throwing himself at my car, forcing me to swerve into oncoming traffic on Yale. Not a good look for y'all. Please chill out. 


There are many things wrong with your post, but I'll keep this brief.  No cyclists willfully "THRUSTS" himself into your lane risking his life.  And I have yet to see a serious accident where a cyclist endangered a driver.  In the "history of cycling and driving?" ...yea, maybe!  But for every time a cyclist hurts a driver I'll show you 1000 of the reverse.   :)


@tommyelder1 @calmdown  Definitely so. I forgot you were in the car with me. I totally recalled what I witnessed incorrectly. Thanks for correcting me! 

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