After a rash of violent robberies on the Columbia Tap Bike Trail, some Houston cyclists are going to extremes to keep themselves feeling safe, carrying everything from blunt objects to well-concealed firearms.
Officials with the Houston Police Department confirmed to CultureMap on Thursday that no further attacks on the trial have been reported since a group of young suspects was arrested in mid-September for the attacks. Nevertheless, the nearly two dozen incidents that occurred this summer — several that sent victims to area hospitals — have left bike riders feeling more vulnerable than ever.
"You have to help yourself," says one armed rider. "What's you life worth?"
An area man who requested anonymity tells KHOU Ch. 11 that he never hops on his bike unarmed.
"This one's ideal for pocket carry," he says, placing a small handgun in a fanny pack he wears as a makeshift holster while biking. "It fits in this pouch on my chest. Even if I get knocked off my bike, I can cover it up and still get to my gun."
From a darkened interview room, he explains his reasoning.
"If you're faced with a situation and there's no one there to help, you have to help yourself. What's your life worth?"
Though at least one United States manufacturer has already designed a bicycle for Second Amendment-loving riders — check out the Defiant Stealth — the notion of pack heating doesn't exactly have universal appeal among Houston cyclists.
Abigail Guidry, for example, says she simply carries pepper spray and remains constantly alert about her surroundings.
“You don’t have to be CHL [shorthand for "concealed handgun license"] to prevent situations,” she says. “Know where you’re going. Know the areas you’re going into.”
Watch the full KHOU Ch. 11 report: