Critical Mass: Easy Target for Violence?

Warning:the above video is fairly graphic, and will most likely infuriate any cyclist, and should anger any non-cyclist with any modicum of common sense.

Critical mass rides have long been a hotbed of discussion among many as to whether they are actually beneficial to the riding community at large, and horrific scenes such as this only serve to further polarize the competing sides of the argument. What is widely seen as a peaceful demonstration by cyclists who wish to bring attention to individual riders safety by taking to the streets in large numbers, the practice seems to draw more anger than the attention of many motorists, and even police officers.

The carnage shown above was from a recent Critical Mass Ride in Brazil, which clearly seemed to be a peaceful affair until the driver of a VW Golf plowed through about 130 riders, injuring 20, 9 of which were badly injured and had to be sent to the hospital. According to Brazilian news, authorities have recovered the car, but have not yet found the driver who is presumed to be the registered owner of the car, Ricardo José Neis (Not Neif, as it states in the video).

While the intentions of the ride are good natured, it seems that Critical Mass rides and group rides have now turned into a type of bicycle shooting gallery, where the irritated public is able to take aim at defenseless cyclists. Whatever your feelings on the matter, I think we can all agree that behavior such as this is completely unacceptable, and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law (even though it never is).

Be safe out there people!

Comments

Martin Reis - 02/28/11 - 3:50pm

Believe it or not, the driver has hired a lawyer and is claiming ‘self-defense’.

mr. muy bueno - 02/28/11 - 5:02pm

well, I’m definitely not condoning the behavior of the driver, but cyclists need to be mindful of their actions as well. the ride was clearly impeding the traffic severely. I’m a cyclist as well as a motorist, knowing i could be seriously injure if i was to provoke short temper motorists (not all motorist are short temper); i’d much rather keep a safe distance. Better safe than sorry.

stratosrally - 02/28/11 - 6:51pm

I couldn’t find any English language non-bike websites posting this story when I searched on Google news for “Brazil”, “Critical Mass”, “Bicycle Accident”, etc combinations.

That was early this morning, and since the event took place on Friday (!!!), well…. maybe I’m naive but I called & then emailed MSNBC asking if they could somehow mention it.

Granted – nobody died (sarcasm), but this wasn’t any accident – it was deliberate and I’ve seen Critical Mass mentioned by the US media before without such a tragedy in the middle of it.

I am in no way taking sides on the politics of CM, just the sheer lunacy of seeing someone drive into a crowd of men, women, and children on bicycles out of anger really chapped my hide.

So, anyway – I see that at about 2pm CBS finally posted about it.

A lot of the comments from the Brazilian sites translated immediately afterwards were from cyclists worried that local officials would be attempting to white-wash the incident.

They were asking for people in other countries to help publicize what actually happened.

I wonder how it will all fall out…

ZachOverholt - 02/28/11 - 10:21pm

It really saddens and troubles me to see such acts of violence against cyclists. With the bicycle being (supposedly) the number one form of transportation in the world, and the incredible amount of amazing people I have met over the years in the bike industry, it blows my mind how anyone could be so angry against cyclists.
I fear for the future, and wonder how it will play out as gas prices rise, and many Americans will either choose or be forced to choose to commute by bike. I think the best thing we can do collectively for now, is to keep riding our bikes, be seen, and obey the all the traffic laws we expect motorists to abide by.

Trygg - 02/28/11 - 11:25pm

I actually think critical masses are really stupid and immature. They don’t do anything but challenge authority. Honestly people, its things like critical mass that makes people hate cyclists.

Robin - 03/01/11 - 1:09am

Whatever the issues on the road between cyclists and drivers, things obviously shouldn’t come to what they came to in the video. The reality, though, is that driver was no more representative of the majority of drivers than the idiot cyclists that blow traffic signals and ride without lights at night are of the majority of cyclists.

I take big issue with the statement that Critical Mass is “…widely seen as a peaceful demonstration by cyclists who wish to bring attention to individual riders safety by taking to the streets in large numbers.” There’s not a single fact that supports such a dubious claim.

ZachOverholt - 03/01/11 - 10:24am

Sorry Robin, I should have made myself clear, and said, “widely seen as a peaceful demonstration by participants,” The goal was not to commend, nor condone Critical Mass, yet bring attention to violence against cyclists.

[...] will have its own chapter of Critical Mass, and before you know it, Volkswagen Golf drivers will be running down cyclists in the streets because they’re in a hurry (to get to the homicidal maniac convention). // [...]

ELG - 03/02/11 - 2:57pm

What a load of crap. Critical Mass rides are not good natured and they are not peaceful.

They are obnoxious and offensive anti-car and anti-society protest and activism. Their reason for being is to deliberately block traffic, (including fire and rescue) disrupt city life, inconvenience and provoke people.

What that driver did was absolutely wrong and terrible, but the critical mass riders set the stage and created the situation.

Matt - 03/03/11 - 9:15am

@ELG,” What that driver did was absolutely wrong and terrible, but the critical mass riders set the stage and created the situation” The way that you state that the driver is in the wrong BUT the riders created the situation, is the same language that is always used when blaming the victim of a crime. The rapist that states “she had it coming”, or perhaps civil rights workers that were beaten by police and hosed had it coming as well because they were demonstrating. Stop finding ways to rationalize brutality against others, I’m sure that’s exactly what the Golf driver did right before he pressed the gas.

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