City Critical Mass Roundup
posted by July 28 at 10:12 AMon
According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, the two cyclists who arrested for their participation in this weekend’s Critical Mass melee are out on $1,000 bail. So far, no charges have been filed; their next court appearance is scheduled for July 30.
In case you weren’t chained to your computer this weekend, here’s a roundup of our Slog news and analysis from Friday’s Critical Mass melee.
Sunday, July 27
I posted a list of contact information for local media covering the incident—including the Seattle Times, whose news contact information page went to a broken link.
Jonah Spangenthal-Lee got an exclusive first interview with the driver of the car:
While some cyclists I’ve spoken with have written Mark off as another indignant road-hog, Mark says he actually used to be a bike commuter when he lived in Seattle a few years ago. “I sympathize with [cyclists’] cause. I ride bikes too. I’m a liberal hippie Democrat,” he says, adding “I’m gay, the person with me was a lesbian and we were attacked by eco-terrorists. It’s the most Seattle thing that could have happened.
While Mark still believes this incident was sparked by hostility from cyclists, he does seem genuinely remorseful about what happened and is disappointed that cyclists are being charged for the incident. “What I did was probably a mistake,” he says. “I want to apologize to [the cyclists]. I didn’t mean for it to happen. It was terrifying for me. I was pissed off, I overreacted, I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing and I’m sorry for it.”
Saturday, July 26
Jonah interviewed one of the cyclists injured by the driver Friday night, who told a very different story.
[Cyclist Tom] Braun—a 35-year-old attorney who says prior to last night, he hadn’t been on a Critical Mass ride in years—says he was moving with a crowd of cyclists on 15th and Aloha when he says he heard the driver of a white Subaru yelling at his fellow riders. “I didn’t see anyone “surrounding” the guy’s car,” Braun says.”I saw some cyclists nicely asking the guy to wait.” Then, Braun says, the driver “just floored it” into a crowd of cyclists.
As the driver pulled away, Braun—who was not part of the group talking to the driver—was caught under the vehicle, and the car rolled over his leg. “I literally got run over,” Braun says. “I was hanging on the front of [the] car. I’m glad he made a left and tried to take off down the road. If he’d turned right, I would have been crushed.”
David Schmader posted an eyewitness account by one of the cyclists, whose bike was damaged beyond repair.
I arrived near the end of a Critical Mass cycling ride at the crest of the Aloha St. hill heading east to find the driver of a car with a passenger irately screaming at cyclists to get out of the way.
As cyclists were explaining to him that everyone was nearly past him, he proceeded to yell about being late for a reservation. He was parked on the grass and sidewalk, crookedly perpendicular to Aloha.
Suddenly, he sped into Aloha, directly into the crowd of cyclists.
The front right side of the car struck me and dragged along with my bike as I hung onto the front of the car. Subsequently, he ran over my right leg and bike as he sped down Aloha to the East, in what appeared to me to be an attempt to flee the scene. My bicycle has been damaged beyond repair (see attached pictures).
I waxed indignant about the way the media and police routinely ignore cyclists’ side of these stories, taking police and drivers at their word?
Why, if the driver assaulted several cyclists with his car, is he being treated as the victim?
Why is hitting cyclists with intent to harm them—or “nudging” them, or throwing things at them, or forcing them off the road—not considered assault with a deadly weapon?
Why does SPD and the media consider harm to property—the Subaru, whose tires were slashed and whose windows were broken—a far worse crime than running over and potentially killing a defenseless person with a 2,000-pound machine?
Why, when cyclists pay for local roads just like drivers do, do some drivers assume they have more right to the road than cyclists do—indeed, that cyclists have no right to the road at all?
Jonathan Golob reflected on the pathetic state of Seattle’s biking infrastructure (and the city’s utter contempt for cyclists.)
East Aloha street is totally insane as a bicycle route. It’s narrow, barely wide enough for two cars let alone cars and cyclists. Cars are idiodically street parked along the length—half on the grass, half on the street. (The self-centered jackasses who park their cars on Aloha deserve to have their cars sideswiped more often.) The road twists and turns, ramps up and down, with terrible sight lines. Cars, particularly those seeking a rapid zip across the hill, naturally gravitate to this street compared to those North and South of it. Nobody should use it as a bicycle route. East Mercer street, East Republican street or East Harrison street are all better choices, despite being broken up and littered with shitty drivers driving way too fast for narrow residential streets.
The City tells you, as a potential cyclist, to use East Aloha street as your route of choice—via the Seattle Bicycling Guide Map, a delightful service of the Seattle Department of Transportation. The document pretty much epitomizes the city’s contempt for cyclists—on the part of the police, the drivers, the transportation department and the government. East Aloha street is designated the same as 12th Ave East, an excellent cyclist route.
Jonah got the first media interview with one of the Critical Mass cyclists, a 25-year-old car owner who was riding with her husband, her mother, and her stepfather.
From her position about 50 yards away, Wharton says she saw about four or five cyclists around a white Subaru that was being driven by a white, well-dressed man in his mid- to late-20s. She heard him yell at the cyclists, “Get the fuck out of my way! We’ve got reservations!” When the cyclists continued to block his car, “he just got really irrational,” driving his car into the crowd, knocking over two cyclists and backing his car over several bikes left in the road as cyclists jumped out of his way. Wharton says the driver then pulled forward again, forcing one cyclist onto his windshield (and possibly breaking the cyclist’s ankle).
Wharton says the initial report from King 5 news, which characterized the cyclists as aggressors and the driver as an innocent victim, was “totally inaccurate. They painted it as this mob of angry cyclists attacking the car,” which couldn’t be further from the truth, Wharton says. She describes public reaction to news reports as “they got what was coming to them.”
Dave recounted three early eyewitness accounts of the incident, sent by email.
The driver sped down Aloha with a mess of bicycles and cyclists in his wake, a cyclist on his roof, and everyone, including his pregnant passenger, yelling for him to “Just stop!” At the bottom of the hill, the driver stopped at a stop sign and the cyclists swarmed the car, slashing his tires and breaking the windows in order to make sure that he did not continue operating his vehicle through the city like a madman. His door was opened, the driver got out of the car in tears and walked, unmolested back up to where the cyclists were splayed out in the street apologizing to everyone. His passenger was relatively calm, also walked up the street unmolested, and explained that her friend had made a mistake and that she had been yelling for him to calm down and stop the car. While there was a little hysterical yelling by the frightened bicyclists, there was absolutely no physical confrontation.