Houston "Biketivist" Targets Motorists Violating Passing Law

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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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