Transplant Athlete
Sunday, July 27, 2008
  Critical Mass Ride In Seattle Turns Violent

I first got an inkling of this off of CNN's website, but they made it sound like the Critical Mass riders snapped, destroyed a Subaru and beat up the driver for no reason other than to assert their right to the road. This is a "Man bites Dog" story for me. Usually, I read the headlines and it says "Car plows into cyclists, 2 dead, 5 injured" In those cases, the driver is either: A) Drunk B) Stupid C) In Road Rage. In some cases, as long as it isn't DUI, the driver gets off easy, unless they do something stupid like joke about killing the cyclist.

As cyclists, we are naked out there against a ton or two of steel traveling well over the posted speed limit. If you are looking for a definition of helpless and weak, ride a bicycle along any road in America with traffic. Some drivers will give you space, some drivers will "buzz" you (get as close as they can at high speed), some drivers throw stuff at us (usually empty cans or bottles), and others scream at us to get off the road. I've never seen a cyclist riding down the road scream at all the cars going by (of course I've never ridden with Tourettes guy), I've never seen a cyclist throw something at a car, I've never seen a cyclist "buzz" a car. My point is that in my experience the majority of drivers are ok, but there are a noticeable few who make it very dangerous for bicyclists, and when I say dangerous, I mean deadly. On the other hand, never in my experience, have I heard of a cyclist who has killed an automobile driver. It physically can't happen, we can't intimidate them either, can you just image how that conversation goes, "give me room to ride my bike or I'll ride right into your door." The bike would be trashed and unrideable, whereas there might be a small dent in the car door.

This particular situation in Seattle is interesting, because CNN claims the cyclists started it and destroyed the car for no reason; an angle, the driver will surely try to reinforce. How likely is that? The full facts aren't in yet, but cyclists are in jail and the driver isn't. Yes, the car and driver are smashed up, but there are cyclists who've had their bicycles destroyed and have been run over by the car. My guess is that the car did much more monetary damage to the bikes than the cyclists did to the car. My guess is that the police will use this one incident to crack down on all cyclists, because that's easy for them. They won't try to determine who was at fault, they'll just blame the cyclists. How about protecting us cyclists? I should just stop dreaming.

Personally speaking, If one of my friends got run over and the driver took off, I'd chase 'em down and if I caught them, I'd get that driver out of the car if I had to break a window to do it, so be it. Catching the driver is the hard part, in my experience, they're usually flying by at 50+ mph. I was on a charity ride once, where I could hear lots of beeping behind me as I was riding, eventually, an old woman passed me at high speed giving me plenty of room, but the next rider wasn't so lucky. He was about a 100 feet in front of me, she clipped him and he went down. Because the woman had been beeping and was traveling pretty fast, I watched her as she passed me and I saw her hit the guy. She pulled over and she was irate. She said the cyclist reached out and hit her car. When she clipped his handlebar with the back of her station wagon, it threw both of his hands off the bar, and he sort of pinwheeled down to the ground with his hands out; to her looking in her rearview mirror after hearing the bump, it looked like he had slapped her car. His bike was damaged, but rideable and he wasn't severely injured, so he let it slide. The old woman however went straight to the police apparently saying we were all over the road (and I'm sure she added she was afraid for her life). By the time I reached the next support station, the police had left warnings that all riders not staying to the right and riding single file would be cited. Edie and Larry were people I've ridden with who weren't so lucky. They both got hit from behind by vehicles (in separate incidents) and died.


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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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