How much expression is too much? For many in Leader neighborhoods, one avenue has run its course—at least in its current state.
This past Friday, March 31, Critical Mass Houston made its way through Garden Oaks/Oak Forest, causing massive delays. Critical Mass is a monthly mass bike ride conducted the last Friday of every month. Rides begin and end at Market Square Park in downtown Houston, but the routes often run through area neighborhoods, causing constant backups as police block off certain intersections for riders. Residents, however, say it’s time for a change.
For one, the encounter almost took a catastrophic turn as she and her husband drove to White Oak Music Hall. As they approached at the light on Fulton and Patton, their light turned green but she said riders showed no regard whatsoever for the rules of the road despite a police presence.
“I made it halfway across the intersection, as did the driver next to me, and then all hell broke loose. Both of our cars were straddling the metro rail lines, and riders kept blowing through the intersection, even though traffic laws would usually have them at a full stop,” she said. “The driver next to us and our car were inching forward, as there was a train coming, and riders were just screaming at us, shouting obscenities.”
Another who initially wished to be a part of the ride, skipped it after witnessing the disregard for safety.
“Critical Mass endangers all car drivers, riders and innocent kids that get dragged into it by their entitled parents,” they said.
Yet another participated in it at least twice, but quit for the exact safety reasons initially described.
“Critical mass riders don’t stop at stop signs or red lights,” she said. “It’s ridiculous, unsafe, and illegal.”
Some recalled a time when the ride was a peaceful event, but now believe the event has swelled out of-control.
“They’ve turned it into a mass migration of self indulgent brats who think that might makes right,” one said.
Sources for this story wished to not have their names published for fear of retribution from Critical Mass, and wonder what police can do it reign it in.
“Why don’t the police do something about this?” one resident asked. “Blocking streets, putting drivers and pedestrians in harm’s way, drinking?”
“Some of those people are rabid out there these days,” another added.
This is not the first time a protest or conflict has arisen, either. A report from 2014 read that HPD might stop providing officers for protection without a fee for cyclists, which appears to not have transpired, as residents reported seeing officers on scene last weekend.
Further, there was even a petition circulated in 2014 in attempts to reign it in, but that fell by the wayside, and nothing has taken to this point.
Requests for comment from the Houston Police Department and Critical Mass were unable to be returned as of press time.