Driver says video shows Critical Mass cyclists breaking law

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on January 1, 2014 at 11:43 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 2 at 12:00 AM

HOUSTON -- A concerned driver says Critical Mass bike riders are intentionally breaking the law, and he captured cell phone video to prove his point.

The ride, organized by the group Critical Mass, happens on the last Friday of every month and involves hundreds of cyclists.

Cell phone video given to KHOU by a viewer clearly shows a stream riders passing through a red light. Cars can be heard honking repeatedly as drivers wait for the cyclists to pass.

Some drivers who have had their own experiences with the organized ride believe participants are not exercising caution.

"Half of them are my friends. They're punks," said driver Ryan Ottea. "They're using their mass as a weapon for running lights. They're using the mass to stop traffic because they can."

Critical Mass spokesman Kyle Nielsen says that is not true.

He believes riders are exercising free speech rights and are not doing anything wrong.

Nielsen admits that cyclists do pass through red lights to stick with the rest of the group.

"Cars control the roads 29 days out of the month, and I think once a month ride is not unreasonable," said Kyle Nielsen.

Nielsen says organizers began working with the city and police toward the end of 2013. He points out that the monthly route is now provided to police ahead of time.

"I see Critical Mass as creating a safe space. So for me, that's the priority, not driver convenience," explained Nielsen.

HPD told KHOU that it has been working to educate Critical Mass on bike laws.

According to HPD, officers attempt to keep traffic flowing during the ride while also trying to keep Critical Mass cyclists as safe as possible.

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