Tag Archive for Seattle

Morning Links: Seattle jock attacks bike zealots, CD4 candidate offers hope, and LAPD ignores drivers to ticket bike rider

No bias here.

A Seattle radio jock says “bike zealots” are trying to force the city’s traffic problems on the the Bellevue area, apparently by calling for a road diet and bike lanes.

He also claims only 25 bike riders a day currently use the street in question, and doubts the number is likely to increase once the bike lanes go in.

Maybe someone should tell him you can’t judge the need for a bridge by how many people swim across the river.

Or if a new road is needed by how many people currently drive across the fields.

Then again, maybe he could learn something from the bikeway on Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge, which many motorists called an unnecessary failure on a road few bicyclists used when it opened ten years ago.

And now may be the busiest bike lane in North America.

All those bike riders must have been busy swimming against the tide a decade ago.

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CiclaValley offers a painful reminder that once upon a time, we actually had the mayor’s support for safer streets and hope for the future of our city.

Even if it does seem like a fairy tale now.

On the other hand, the following response to that tweet is exactly the attitude we need from our elected officials. And why Sarah Kate Levy has my personal support for LA’s 4th Council District set currently held by David Ryu.

Even if she isn’t one of us.

Yet.

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An LAPD cop ignored drivers rolling a red light, and ticketed the guy on two wheels for jumping the light by a few seconds.

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The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes goes on.

Someone booby trapped a Colorado bike trail, stringing potentially deadly wires across the path at neck level; one bike rider was lucky to escape with a bloody nose.

Someone painted “No Bikes” on a Tulsa OK bike lane — and bizarrely, “Kayaks Only.”

Then again, the people on two wheels aren’t always the good guys. 

A man is under arrest for attacking a woman after colliding with her as he was riding on an Irvine bike trail; a Good Samaritan intervened to stop the assault and hold him for police.

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Local

No news is good news, right?

 

State

Calbike’s Dave Snyder says the Complete Streets bill currently under consideration in the state legislature would benefit bike riders and pedestrians.  Everyone else, too. One way or another.

No bias here, either. The story says very clearly that police in San Diego conducted a safety operation “focused on enforcing safety laws involving motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.” Too bad the headline is all about a crackdown on bicyclists and pedestrians.

Sad news from Bakersfield, where a woman has died nearly a week after her bike was struck by an alleged drunk driver.

Now that’s more like it. A new San Francisco program provides a variety of hand-cycles, side-by-side tandem bikes and adult tricycles for people with mobility-related disabilities during carfree Sundays in Golden Gate Park.

Streetsblog San Francisco calls for regulating killer trucks. Trucks don’t kill, drivers do. But no truck should ever be allowed on the roads with massive blindspots that can prevent drivers from seeing bike riders and pedestrians, or without sideguards to keep people from getting swept underneath.

Hats off to a Santa Rosa bike shop for giving a Utah triathlete a new $5,000 bike after her’s was stolen the day before the race.

Marin County sheriff’s investigator have released the name of a suspect who allegedly stole $25,000 worth of bicycles from a bike shop earlier this month; they’ve recovered the bikes from a storage shed, and have a warrant out for his arrest.

 

National

A new study shows falls at home are the leading cause of nonfatal head injuries in American kids. Which is why your kids should wear BikinginLA’s patented new HomeHelmet™ from the day they’re born until they turn 21.

Anyone who wants a 20 mph e-cargo bike for just $1,500 raise your hand. Sorry, I may be typing one-handed for awhile.

Evidently, bikes as props are a thing for scantily-clad models this year. Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Anne de Paula rides a bike in some exotic-looking beach location while wearing a “cheeky” one-piece swimsuit. Which may be a BikinginLA record for most hyphens in a single sentence.

Twitter erupted with predictable outrage after Arizona police announced plans to give good drivers faux tickets containing coupons for Circle K; the cops backed off after realizing the plan was of “questionable legality,” deciding they’d just stop bike riders and pedestrians instead. But if it’s questionable to pull over drivers who aren’t breaking the law, why wouldn’t the same thing apply to people walking or riding bikes? Or do civil rights only apply to people in cars?

Why bother breaking in to a Denver-area bike shop, when you can just drive a bus through the front door?

The death toll continues to climb in New York, where a 30-year old art teacher was killed when she was doored while riding her bike and knocked into the path of a semi for the city’s 18th bicycling death so far this year; New York Mayor de Blasio reminded drivers that it’s against the law to open a car door into the path of a bicyclist.

South Brooklyn community boards tell de Blasio where he can put his plan to expand protected bike lanes; apparently they don’t care how many bike riders die on the streets.

They get it. A Charleston SC newspaper says it takes a special kind of logic to reject a safety project over fears it would be unsafe, and that ignoring bike and pedestrian safety won’t fix anything.

For one brief instant, it seemed like we had reason to be excited, and maybe there was actually hope for Los Angeles. Except the new Complete Streets project is on the wrong Hollywood Blvd, in the wrong Hollywood, in the wrong state, on the wrong side of the country. 

This is why you always need to maintain your bike. A Florida man is dead after he threw the chain on his bike and fell into the street, where he was struck by a driver.

In yet another example of keeping a dangerous driver on the road until it’s too late, a Jacksonville FL man will face charges for the hit-and-run deaths of two women as they rode their bikes, after police found “biological material” in his shattered windshield; he has been charged with at least six other moving violations dating back to 1999.

 

International

A Vancouver man gets his bike back less than a day after it was stolen — and with a better front wheel — when a bike courier spotted someone riding it and negotiated its return for $60.

She gets it too. A Vancouver letter writer says “Maybe it’s time to end the debate of cyclist vs vehicle driver and just ask your city to provide safe infrastructure for both.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

It takes a real schmuck to steal a paraplegic’s custom adaptive bike from a Calgary hotel parking lot; the theft victim had continued to ride despite losing the use of his legs in a mountain biking accident three years ago.

Toronto newspaper readers go ballistic when a columnist suggests bicycles don’t pose the same threat to pedestrians that drivers do. The simple fact is, someone on foot is far less likely to be killed in a collision with a bicyclist than with a driver, for reasons that should be obvious. But it can and does happen. So it’s your responsibility to ride safely and carefully around pedestrians, who can be every bit as unpredictable as drivers think we are.

Huh? A British columnist bizarrely spends most of his column talking about smoking, vaping, coffee drinking and otherwise distracted drivers. But then says we should pity the drivers who get blamed for the sins of modern bike riders if they actually hit one. Personally, I’d rather pity the person who gets hit. 

So much for that. It only took 60 seconds to steal Dutch bikemaker VanMoof’s $3,000 theft-proof ebike.

The US has a long way to go to catch up with Poland’s glowing bike path.

Four people were seriously injured when a driver crossed over the center line and plowed into their bicycles in a Japanese tunnel; four other people were injured when a second driver crashed into his car, including a two-month old baby who suffered major injuries.

 

Competitive Cycling

The Sacramento Bee says the future of French cycling looks bright, even if the country had its Tour de France dreams dashed once again.

The Independent talks with a man who mentored new Tour de France champ Egan Bernal in his teens, and talked him out of giving up the sport.

The Washington Post examines 2016 Olympic cycling silver medalist Kelly Catlin and the massive hole left in the lives of her family and friends after she took her own life following a series of injuries, and the untreated depression that may have resulted from a concussion suffered during a bike race.

 

Finally…

We may have hit-and-run drivers, but at least we don’t have to worry about hit-and-run deer. If you’re going to break into a garage and steal a bike, try not to leave a scent for the police dogs to follow.

And this is why country music is called three chords and the truth. Just hang up and drive already.

Thanks to Megan Lynch for that last video.

Morning Links: Metro talks congestion pricing, induced demand goes both ways, and FilmedByBike this Sat

Metro’s board of supervisors considered congestion pricing to discourage driving and fund the 28 by 28 initiative at their monthly meeting on Thursday, but decided not to decide until next month.

The plan would provide funding to complete 28 transit projects in time for the 2028 LA Olympics. Metro’s CEO has also discussed using congestion pricing funds to provide free bus and train rides throughout the LA area.

LA’s ever-worsening traffic congestion means we have a choice between encouraging people to leave their cars behind by making it more convenient to ride a bike or use transit, or taking painful steps to force them to.

But the city’s ever-present NIMBYs, entitled drivers and traffic safety deniers have fought to block bike lanes, and too many spineless city officials have caved in to them.

So now congestion pricing is on the table. Whether they like it or not.

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More evidence that induced demand goes both ways.

The Seattle Times looks into where the 90,000 drivers who formerly used the city’s shorefront Alaskan Way Viaduct every day went once it was closed down, and before the new tunnel meant to replace it opens.

The paper concludes that some drivers moved to another highway, some switched to transit, and some took to their bicycles.

But most, they say, either changed their commutes, or simply stayed home.

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Looks like LAist and LA Magazine know a good thing when they see them.

LAist recommends The Frogtown Show comedy night at the Spoke Bicycle Cafe along the LA River Bike Path in Elysian Valley Saturday Night.

And both recommend FilmedByBike — Los Angeles at the Boomtown Brewery in Aliso Village on Sunday. Admission includes two movie screenings, a panel discussion, raffle and 25 exhibitors with bike demos. Correction: Earlier I wrote it was on Saturday; it’s actually Sunday. Thanks to Joe Linton for the correction.

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An impatient driver forced his way through an Oakland protest, running over a bicycle — after the rider jumped off — then ran over the leg of a blind homeless man, while driving on the sidewalk.

Remarkably, no arrest was made, as police appeared to make excuses for the driver.

You can see some of the event below, despite the shaky camera work.

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You can’t keep a good man down.

Or off an arena with his camera crew, evidently.

A British court ruled that YouTube star Ryan Taylor can legally post video of his scofflaw BMX ride on top of London’s massive O2 Arena.

Even if it encourages others to copy his dangerous stunt.

And eve if his ride was interrupted by a police helicopter.

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Local

This is who we share the roads with. A woman was arrested for killing a MacArther Park pedestrian Wednesday night; the victim was walking in a crosswalk when he was run down by the driver, who was viewing messages using WhatsApp.

LADOT is hosting a mixer for community-based organizations and community leaders on February 19, from 3 to 6 pm.

More on the selection of homegrown Long Beach bike service provider Pedal Movement to operate and expand the city’s bikeshare program.

State

Santa Cruz, which already has the state’s second-highest bike commuting rate, will raise downtown parking fees to finance efforts to further increase bike and transit use.

Bay Area bike riders say not so fast to plans to steal back a long-promised bike and pedestrian lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and give it to the same drivers who claim the other five lanes.

A San Francisco TV station honors Richmond’s Rich City Rides for its work building community around bicycle rides and projects.

National

Entrepreneur talks with William Shatner, the new captain of the starship Pedego.

No bias here. A Seattle website accuses “anti-car ideologues” at area DOTs of forcing bicycles on an unwilling populace.

Oh, well that’s okay, then. A hit-and-run driver who killed a bike rider in Salt Lake City told police he fled the scene because he was scared. Even if that was the case, he should have turned himself in the next day — after he sobered up, most likely.

A 19-year old Wyoming man’s self-funded film captures the spirit of freeride mountain biking.

Dallas isn’t afraid of road diets, unlike a certain SoCal city I could name. The Texas city approved plans to reduce a major streets from six lanes to four to make room for bike lanes and wider sidewalks. The same sort of six-to-four lane reduction was what made some Mar Vista drivers apoplectic, demanding its removal.

E-scooters could finally get the green light in Gotham, as scooter companies descend on the city to lobby for their approval. However, Gothamist warns there could be roadblocks ahead.

A 62-year old Brooklyn bike rider was awarded $2.25 million after suing the city accusing a police detective of shoving him into a parked car, suffering permanent injuries; needless to say, the officer denied touching him, bur security video — hidden from the defense for four years — showed otherwise.

US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will be confined to a wheelchair and walker for the next several months as she recovers from a painful broken pelvis and hip socket suffered in a bicycling crash; still no word on whether if was a solo fall or if she was hit by a driver.

A proposed DC ordinance would give scooter and ebike riders involved in crashes the same rights as regular bicyclists and pedestrians.

Bighearted North Carolina police pitch in to replace a bike that was stolen from a young girl, whose father is suffering from stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

Life remains cheap in Louisiana, where the driver who got just 90 days for killing a bike-riding city councilman gets another 90 days for injuring his riding companion. But he’ll serve just 17 days of that.

Georgia thieves steal a page from the Middle Ages and the Old West, laying a tree branch across a bridge to force a bike rider to stop; when he tried to move it, they popped out with guns and stole his cellphone. Although victims in the Middle Ages and Old West hardly ever carried cellphones with them.

He gets it. A Gainesville FL writer considers his transportation options, and concludes that cars are expensive and cumbersome, and nothing beats a bike.

The Tampa Bay Times says it’s time to make the dangerous city — and the entire state of Florida — safer for people walking and on bicycles.

International

Bike Portland looks at the bikeways of Baja.

Singer, rapper and producer Ray J plans to stay involved in the business, after selling his e-scooter company to a Canadian concern for a price tag in the high seven figures. The money will help rollout the scooters throughout North America.

A Vancouver newspaper asks if a proposal to put bike lanes and a walkway down the center of an existing bridge is smart planning or the first step towards Carmaggedon.

A British Columbia bike rider asks if the impatient driver who nearly ran her down was as frightened by it as she was. Probably not.

A Saskatoon, Canada teenager just became the youngest person to ride a bike around the world, covering nearly 20,000 miles through 16 countries.

A new report says building community bike hubs could encourage more bicycling in the Toronto suburbs; the hubs provide access to bicycles, repairs, tools and other items and services to promote bicycling in areas with no bike lanes and very few bicyclists.

The younger brother of royal spouse Kate Middleton is one of us, as he takes his two dogs for a cargo bike ride.

An “anti-social” bike mob is accused of frightening shoppers at a local mall, riding directly at them while hurling abuse.

It’s not every day that a bike thief asks to be put in prison to break his spiral of addiction; a Belfast judge was happy to oblige. Because everyone knows there are no drugs behind bars. Right?

Retired pro cycling favorite Jens Voigt tells an Indian newspaper that the problem with Millennials is they want to be millionaires in two weeks, and life doesn’t work that way. Don’t blame me, take it up with Jensie.

An Indian environmental website says bicycling would have huge benefits for the country, but the high cost of bicycles and a lack of a bicycling ecosystem are holding it back.

NIMBYs are everywhere. Even in South Africa, where white homeowners are fighting to have a new separated bike lane removed from their street.

A Singapore paper says don’t give up on dockless bike sharing yet.

Competitive Cycling

CiclaValley offers scenes from the SoCal Cross season finale.

Finally…

Turning bike parts into art. Even cartoon pigs have to wear bike helmets, ven if they originally didn’t.

And seriously, when you’re carrying meth on your bike after dark, put a damn light on it.

It might even help see the soft dirt when you flee from the police.

Major road rage chutzpah, Jeannie Longo breaks my heart & LA’s anti-harassment ordinance spreads east

In an unbelievable display of chutzpah, the driver accused of running down a Highland Park cyclist in a road rage assault has spoken out against bikes lanes on North Figueroa.

According to the Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch, Louis Mraz used a recent meeting of the Mt. Washington Homeowners’ Alliance to warn that efforts by the recently formed Figueroa for All initiative could return the street to a single lane for cars and one for bikes, like it was in the ‘40s when the Red Cars reduced vehicular traffic to one lane in each direction.

Like that would be a bad thing.

Except for impatient road raging drivers, of course.

He went on to suggest that cyclists should be routed to less-traveled streets, warning that North Fig could soon become “jammed with bikes.”

Then again, he seems to take offense if there’s just one bike in his way. Or at least, that’s what he currently stands accused of.

Maybe it’s just me.

But I’d think that when you’re facing charges for a vehicular assault against a cyclist, it might be wise to keep any obvious anti-bike bias to yourself.

Especially if it’s not the first time you’ve been accused of a road rage attack.

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Tell me it ain’t so, Jeannie.

The legendary Jeannie Longo is under investigation for dodging dope tests, while her husband stands accused of buying EPO on her behalf.

This one just breaks my heart.

Longo is — or was — one of the greatest cyclists of all time, and certainly stands as one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege watching ride to victory. If she’s cheating, it raising the question of just how long and when she started. And casts pall on a career that’s lasted through parts of five decades.

And if one of the greatest riders of our time is cheating, then who isn’t?

Maybe Greg LeMond is right, and just about everyone except him is dirty. Or everyone after him, anyway.

Even teams famously dedicated to riding clean face problems, as HTC-Highroad rider Alex Rasmussen is fired from the team and suspended by Denmark’s cycling federation after missing three drug tests in 18 months.

It’s starting to look like a clean pro cyclist is about as rare a clean college football program.

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L.A.’s groundbreaking bicyclist anti-harassment could soon spread east as Washington DC considers a similar ordinance in the wake of a deliberate assault on a rider.

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Seattle’s bike-friendly mayor says it’s time to stop finding fault and start finding solutions to the city’s recent rash of bike deaths — including a rider who may have been killed by a bad bikeway design. And The Stranger says as long as cyclists are dying, if people want to think there’s a war against cars, then maybe there should be.

Meanwhile, a Seattle author takes cyclists to task for failing to share the road.

She’s got a point. But seriously, if a cyclist is pounding on your car when you’re busy taking on the phone — hands-free or otherwise — there’s a reasonable chance you may have done something to deserve it.

Just saying.

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A very positive year for L.A. cyclists — though the notoriously anti-bike L.A. Weekly bizarrely calls it ass-kissing — leads to an honorable mention from the League of American Bicyclists. New LADOT General Manager Jaime de la Vega says L.A. is committed to becoming a more bike-friendly city. L.A. will soon get its first green bike lanes on 1st Street, and the Reseda Blvd bike lanes are now complete from Roscoe to Parthenia. Joe Linton explores the new Cahuenga Blvd bike lanes, the first to reach Hollywood. The BPIT agenda for October is officially unveiled. Bikerowave will host a swap meet on Sunday, October 2nd. Check out the shiny new CicLAvia website. Long Beach gets a new bike station. Thousand Oaks passes on hosting next year’s Amgen Tour of California. A mountain biker is killed by a train while riding on the tracks in Redding. A bike-riding Santa Cruz bank robber faces sentencing after pleading no contest; something tells me he’ll serve a lot more time for stealing money on a bike than most drivers get for killing someone on one. In a case that didn’t smell right from the beginning, CHP reverses itself to rule that a Los Altos Hills cyclist wasn’t responsible for the collision that killed her after all.

After beating back a challenge to bike funding in the federal transportation bill, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid says biking facilities are absolutely important. Defending Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong is replaced by Amber Neben on the U.S squad for the World Championships. A Dutch student becomes the world’s second fastest cyclist at 82.81 miles per hour in a Nevada desert. Cyclists take to Boulder CO’s new 40-acre off-road bike park. The New York Times says don’t forget to pack your folding bike when you travel, while the bike wars continue in the letters to the Times; heads-up courtesy of George Wolfberg. NYC chooses Alta to run its bike share program. A Maryland woman becomes an unintended bike activist after a motorist is fined $507.50 for killing her bike-riding husband.

Mexico City cyclists ride to reclaim their streets following threats from a journalist. Brazil plans to devote 15% of all traffic fines to promote cycling. A Canadian writer concludes that law-flouting kamikaze bikers have declared war on pedestrians. A UK cyclist suffers a broken collarbone after being intentionally rammed in a road rage incident, while Sussex cyclists are being pelted with eggs. Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour has to tear down his beachfront bike hut. Surrey police target inconsiderate cyclists with a possible £1000 fine; link courtesy of Bob Davis. Bikes will soon be allowed on a Yorkshire pathway for the first time in 150 years. Hugh Jackman rides a Brompton. Sleek, sturdy wooden bikes that actually ride like, well, bikes. The NY Times swears Copenhagen pedestrians feel squeezed out by the city’s cyclists. Cyclists and drivers fight for supremacy on German roadways; Dave Moulton asks when cyclists in bike-friendly countries cross the line to become unfriendly to everyone else on the road. A Queensland cyclist remains unidentified after a fatal cycling collision — which is why you should always carry ID when you ride. China is falling back in love with the bicycle.

Finally, in case you missed it, an Orange County driver takes a short cut directly through Mission Viejo’s Rock N’ Road Cyclery. And Der Spiegel says L.A., here I come. No idea what it says, but the pictures are nice; thanks to Dr. Michael Cahn for the link.

Stop the presses! And blame the bikers!

Today’s Streetsblog picks up the story of the Seattle Critical Mass incident we discussed yesterday. And zooms right in on the fact that there are two sides to this story — except where the police and local press are concerned.

Now, I should mention right up front that I’m no fan of Critical Mass. I understand, and share, many of the philosophies expressed by CM riders, and there are riders whose opinions I respect who are active participants.

I simply think it’s counterproductive.

At a time when we’re struggling to get the respect and courtesy we deserve, CM reinforces the attitudes that many drivers already have — that cyclists are aggressive, arrogant, rude and inconsiderate, and have no respect for other users of the road. Let alone the law.

However, the blogosphere has been active in the wake of the Seattle incident, so I’ll let other writers address the questions of whether CM is right or wrong, and how — or whether — it can be fixed.

For me, the more interesting topic is the fact that, as the Streetsblog article points out, the local authorities and press immediately went into the standard blame bikers first mode. Instead of listening to the many bikers who said the driver was angry and aggressive and instigated the incident, they immediately assumed that he was the innocent victim. Or at the very least, justified in his actions.

Like the Colorado sheriff who decided the problem was bikers who ride two abreast, rather than careless and impatient drivers who can’t be bothered to pass them safely — even on nearly empty back country roads — the bias of law enforcement is almost always that the rider is at fault.

The simple fact is, if there is an accident, the police will assume that the rider did something to cause it, unless there is clear and compelling evidence to the contrary, as in the Mandeville Canyon brake check. And in most cases, even if the rider was blameless, the press will jump in with stories about riders who run red lights and flaunt traffic laws.

If we report a road rage incident, the police investigate it as a simple traffic altercation, rather than a violent crime — as they did when I was the victim of road rage, and ended up being threatened with arrest myself. If someone runs us off the road, it’s blamed on a momentarily distracted driver who just didn’t see us. If we report a driver or passenger throwing something at us, they call it littering. If they bother to call it anything at all.

Even in the well-publicized New York police v. CM rider case, it was the rider who spend 26 hours in jail, rather than the cop who assaulted him.

So unless and until the police — and the press that keeps them honest — stop automatically blaming the victim whenever cyclists and cars collide, and start treating assaults against cyclists as the violent crimes they are, we will never experience the equal protection we are guaranteed under the constitution.

And we will never be safe on the streets.

And let’s face it. It’s a dangerous world out there.

 

Today’s reads: The Mountaineerzz take to the hills, where the only traffic they have to worry about should be hikers and mountain lions. LAist has security video from inside a San Dimas bike shop when the Moderate One hit. (Just out of curiosity, was anyone out there riding during the quake? What was that like?) Bicycle Fixation discusses the potholes on the way to turning 4th St. into a bicycle boulevard. And finally, we have an update on the events that followed the good doctor’s brake check — who last I heard, was due for arraignment on Friday.

Blameless victims? Or two-wheeled vigilantes?

Now Seattle is up in arms over a road rage incident involving bicyclists. And once again, it’s the cyclists who are being painted as the bad guys.

According to news initial reports, last Friday’s Critical Mass turned violent when a group of cyclists attacked a driver. As these reports put it, the frightened driver tried to back up, hit a couple of bikes, then got scared and tried to drive away. The bikers chased him down, slashed his tires, smashed his windows and hit him with a bike lock, sending the frightened driver to the hospital with a head injury.

Of course, once the initial hyperventilating news reports aired, a more nuanced picture began to take shape as the real reporters — as opposed to the pretty heads on TV — filed their stories, suggesting that there might actually be two sides to this event. According to these accounts, the driver became angry and/or scared, as the riders may or may not have threatened to tip his car with him and his passenger in it. Then he tried to drive off, dragging injured cyclists with him, until he was chased down by bikers who forced him to stop.

And unfortunately, turned violent in retaliation.

As usually happens these days, though, the full picture only took shape online, as the local bloggers began giving first, or at least second, person reports.

Ryan provides the riders’ perspective, describing how his first CM went painfully wrong, as the driver tried to escape his corkage by accelerating through the riders in front of him, running over one cyclist as another held on for dear life. Even with a cyclist clinging to the hood of his car, the driver gave no sign of stopping, so the riders chased him down and forced him to stop.

Then the police — and reporters — took the standard approach and blamed bikers first. Apparently, both had already decided the driver was the victim, and neither seemed to have any interest in the bikers’ side of the story.

Meanwhile, Jonah talks with the driver himself, painting a very different picture of a frightened — and sympathetic — man, who felt intimidated by all rampaging cyclists who surrounded his car, and by his account, threatened him. He responded by revving his engine in an attempt to get the riders to back off, not realizing his car was in gear. It lurched forward and inadvertently struck a couple of cyclists.

He says the other bikers responded by trying to hit him or clinging to his car, so he began to speed off, then stopped when he heard someone say a rider was hurt. When he got out of his car to apologize, the riders attacked him and his car.

So who’s right — or more to the point in this case, who’s wrong?

Everyone.

Intentionally or not, frightened or not, the driver struck and injured at least two riders in an ill-advised attempt to escape corking.

The police and press — as usual — leapt to the assumption that the cyclists were at fault, and weren’t about to let the facts get in the way.

And — ignoring any questions about the propriety and effectiveness of Critical Mass and corking tactics — the cyclists were wrong for retaliating against the driver, however justified they may have felt at the time. Once the driver struck the cyclists, they should have simply taken down his license or taken a picture (I keep my camera phone in reach when I ride for exactly that reason) and reported it to the police. Then it would have been a clear case of hit-and-run, the cyclists, rather than the driver, would be seen as the victims, and both the police and press might have been a little more sympathetic.

Instead, everyone loses. Especially the biking community.

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