News The Driver Speaks
posted by July 27 at 11:21 AMon
This morning, I spoke with the driver involved in Friday night’s Critical Mass brawl, to get his side of the story. Obviously, it’s very different from what Critical Mass riders have said up to this point
Mark—who asked us not to print his last name—a 23-year-old travel agent, says he was heading to the University District to pick someone up for a birthday party.
While driving through Capitol Hill, Mark says he saw a herd of Critical Mass riders and pulled over on a parking strip on Aloha to wait for them to pass. After waiting for five minutes, Mark says he tried to turn his car around to get out of the way and get off of the street. That’s when about a dozen cyclists surrounded his car, he says.
“As soon as I tried to turn around, they completely corralled me in and were shouting things,” Mark says. Although he says cyclists were initially “playfully taunting” him, Mark says the longer he waited, the more aggressive they got. “They wouldn’t let me move even after the rest of the bikes went by, he says, adding that he started to panic when cyclists began tugging on his side mirrors and he heard someone say “let’s tip the car.”
Mark says he felt intimidated and was concerned for his safety, so he began to rev his engine. “[I] was going to…try to be macho and scare some people,” he says. “I didn’t realize my car was in first [gear].”
Mark says he rolled over two bicycles when his car lurched forward, before a crowd of cyclists swarmed him. One rider tried to punch him through his open car window, but missed, and others were clinging to his car as he sped off.
Although a number of reports have indicated that riders slashed the car’s tires, forcing it to stop, Mark says he heard a rider shout “someone’s really hurt” and slammed on his brakes. “I thought I just knocked 2 bikes over,” Mark says. “I wanted to get away from the situation but if I’d hurt someone, I didn’t want to flee.”
Mark says he got out of his car and was immediately struck in the back of a head by a cyclist wielding a U-lock. Mark then told the angry crowd he was “sorry” and “didn’t know anyone was hurt,” before walking up to where the injured cyclists were. This, Mark says, is when cyclists “completely destroyed [his] car,” breaking his windows and slashing his tires.
Although Mark still believes cyclists instigated the confrontation, he doesn’t believe anyone should be facing charges for the incident. “I hit two of their friends and they tore apart my car,” he says. “I’d rather not have anyone…be charged from any of this.”
While a 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 a 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.”