Houston Police Department may stop providing security for monthly cycling event Critical Mass

Miya Shay reports on the controversial bike ride sometimes involving hundreds of people
January 3, 2014 3:52:11 PM PST
Thousands of cyclists hitting the streets at once; it's a ride they call Critical Mass. And now, two months after we first told you about the traffic and safety concerns, Houston police are weighing in on the future of the ride.

The cycists meet at Market Square Park then bike on Houston streets. The Houston Police Department has been helping provide security for the group but now says it can't continue to do so without a cost.

They gather once a month to ride. It's called Critical Mass, and regular participant Ryan Herbert knows some riders can get rowdy.

"There's bad drivers, there's good drivers; there's bad cyclists, there's good cyclists," Herbert said.

With up to 2,000 participants each time, Houston police has been sending out officers to help direct traffic. Now, Houston police chief Charles McClelland says it's time for the cyclists to help foot the bill.

"To me, this is no different than a large funeral, a large parade," McClelland said.

Unlike a parade or even the marathon, Critical Mass has no board and no one to get a permit.

Ride volunteer Hector Garcia says getting a random riders to pay for anything is hard.

"We had trouble just getting this group to donate $200 one month for a port-a-can," Garcia said.

The police chief says every other group that takes up public streets for hours at a time pays for security.

"If it's 2,000 riders, if they paid a buck a piece, would certainly accommodate the police resources on an overtime basis for several months," McClelland said.

But Garcia says Critical Mass was founded on the concept of no organization and will continue that way.

"If HPD decided to step out because they couldn't do this anymore, nothing would change, because we've been doing it for the past 10 years without their help," Garcia said.

The group and HPD are still in talks about other alternatives.

Find Miya on Facebook at ABCMiyaShay or on Twitter at @miyashay

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