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Seattle Critical Mass Bicyclists Assaults Motorist

Monday, July 28th, 2008
Posted in Advice by Joel Gross

What is Critical Mass?

“Critical Mass” is a movement of bicyclists trying to assert their rights to the road. Bicyclists do have a right to the road, but they need to be just as careful and considerate as motorists do. I commuted every day on bicycle to and from work in Seattle until I moved in close enough to just walk, so I understand the concerns of these bicyclists intimately. However, instead of behaving like responsible citizens and showing the benefits of bicycling vs. driving, members of the Seattle Critical Mass have become increasingly violent and confrontational on their monthly rides.

Critical Mass bicycle rides take place on the last Friday of every month and are intended to be a massive act of civil disobedience aimed at forcing motorists to recognizing bicylists equal rights to the road. The Critical Mass bicyclists mostly just enrage everyone else in the city to the point where drivers become more aggressive towards all bicyclists. People in Seattle are usually pretty laid back, but the Critical Mass bicyclists have done a lot to stir up rage and bitterness towards all bicyclists from normal citizens. The rage is starting to come to a head now (I’ll talk about this in a moment- one driver was physically assaulted).

The members of Critical Mass in Seattle block traffic on a randomly selected road on the last Friday of each month. Think about it- not only are they blocking already bad traffic that angers most regular people, but they are doing it on a FRIDAY when everyone just wants to get home to their family and enjoy their weekend. The technique Critical Mass bicyclists use to block traffic is called “corking”. Corking is a tactic that has a few riders block traffic from side roads so that the mass of bicyclists can move through red lights freely. Corking directly violates Critical Mass’s stated goal of being ordinary traffic, since they are violating all of the fundamental traffic laws and harming ordinary citizens.

Critical Mass Assaults Motorist in Seattle

At 7 pm on Friday, July 25th 2008, Critical Mass was moving through Capitol Hill and performing their corking maneuver to block traffic when a guy and his girlfriend in a Subaru tried to pull out of a parking spot. The Critical Mass bicyclists immediately moved to prevent him from getting out and a bunch of the cyclists jumped on his car and were banging on it. The man, becoming fearful that he was about to be further assaulted by the cyclists, tried to back up but bumped into a cyclist who was parked behind him. A bunch of the Critical Mass participants became very enraged according to witnesses and they started to bash on the Subaru, shattering the poor mans front & rear windows. The driver was now scared absolutely poo-less and tried to drive away, but the bicyclists followed him down about a block before the Critical Mass riders cornered his car and started spitting on him and hitting him and his girlfriend through their open windows. The bicyclists than slashed his tires and when the driver got out, he was hit in the back of the head and suffered a large head wound. The police arrived shortly after that and witnesses identified two of the assailants who were then arrested. The driver was taken to a hospital and his injuries were not life threatening.

I am seriously concerned that something like what happened to this poor driver and his girlfriend might happen to me at the next Critical Mass. Critical Mass is making Seattle unsafe for ordinary citizens. I have put a can of pepper spray and a golf club in the back seat of my car for self-defense against these criminals. Seattle police and mayor Greg Nickels need to ENFORCE THE LAW and put an end to Critical Mass bike rides.

How Can We Stop Critical Mass Bicyclists?

The Seattle police and Mayor Greg Nickels need to enforce the law. Bicyclists should be allowed to ride, as long as they follow the rules of the road like everyone else. That means no corking, no assaults, no running red lights, no stopping in the middle of the road and laying down.

Unfortunately, since Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle Police Department are either unwilling or unable to enforce basic laws in our city, citizens need to protect themselves. Seattle Police are too busy hunting easy targets on I-90 to fill their ticket quotas to take on the real criminals. I strongly recommend that Seattle citizens get concealed weapons permits and carry their own protection until such a time that Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle Police Department makes our city safe again for ordinary, law-abiding citizens.

What Happens If Critical Mass Continues?

I am afraid we will begin to see a lot more signs like these on the right. I love riding my bicycle in Seattle, but I am becoming afraid that motorists and other people will become so hostile towards cyclists because of what Critical Mass is doing that people will no longer be as careful as they should be when driving around us. Bicyclists are very vulnerable to cars and people are ordinarily pretty careful, but if they are angry they are likely to not give a cyclist quite as much room and that will create many deaths.

Please, if you are a bicyclist in Seattle, DO NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE CRIMINAL CRITICAL MASS BIKE RIDES ANY LONGER!

16 thoughts on “Seattle Critical Mass Bicyclists Assaults Motorist

  1. This really sounds disgusting- The assailants should be rung up on a huge range of charges. Preventing someone from leaving or exiting is a felony, not to mention vandalism, traffic tickets, etc. Maybe we can have a bikes vs. motorist battle royale on Fridays… Someone think the streets full of bicyclists would resemble a bowling alley? My Lexus and I do!

  2. Criminal Mass are just idealists that never grew up, even the ones who are long out of college and should have left meaningless protest behind. Bottom line is that they can certainly ride alone, or en masse, whenever they want; but when they deliberately act to impede the progress of other road users they are breaking laws, and should be held accountable. I have ridden bikes in traffic here and in other large cities; I accept that it is dangerous and can be frustrating when other vehicle users are not considerate, or even aware, of cyclists – BUT THAT IS LIFE, YOU DON’t ALWAYS GET YOUR WAY! Seems to me they want it both ways – don’t let motorized traffic inconvenience cyclists, but ignore the rules of the road when it suits.

  3. Are you kidding? I strongly recommend that Seattle citizens get concealed weapons permits and carry their own protection until such a time that Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle Police Department makes our city safe again for ordinary, law-abiding citizens. You are really advocating shooting bicyclists with that statement. Sound reasonable? Looks like YOU are the one looking for a fight.

  4. Shooting Critical Mass bicyclists is not my intention at all. I recommend people get guns to PROTECT themselves from violent Critical Mass cyclists… do not use them unless you are violently assaulted by crazies like the man last Friday. I am being a tad extreme to try to prove a point- IF THE POLICE DO NOT DO THEIR JOB TO PROTECT CITIZENS FROM LAW-BREAKERS, VIGILANTISM USUALLY FOLLOWS! It is very important that Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle Police Department start to do their jobs and not allow a small, angry part of society to trample the rights of the rest of us.

  5. Thank you for the article. I 100% agree with your view on stopping CM. How can a group expect to be heard when it breaks traffic laws? Critical Mass is Criminal Massholes.

  6. The criminals of Critical Mass do not hesitate to use violence on ordinary citizens just trying to go about their day, however I am much more circumspect. People in America are allowed to act in self defense if they are assaulted and I will do exactly that. This post on critical mass is meant to be a little over the top and I do not actually own or carry a concealed weapon. I do have pepper spray in my car in case I ever need to protect myself though.

  7. I suppose that the reason that nobody posted here disagreeing is that anybody who rides in critical mass immediately realized what an idiot the author must be. This person obviously has no first-hand experience with critical mass, since they are under the impression that 1: it is a protest. 2: people “stop and lay down in the middle of the road”, 3: the “victim” of the assault in seattle this summer “bumped into” a cylist, when in reality he ran over a cyclist, 4: critical mass “picks a road” and blocks it, as opposed to riding on the streets. etc. *Edited for language* F- you, author. If you really want to stop critical mass, then come to westlake center last friday of the month at 5:30 and do something. Why dont you ride in it and see how hateful people are – you will be dissappointed, and may regret buying a pistol to fend off the band of hessian thugs that terrorize our blessed wholesome city of seattle.

  8. At last, a dissenting opinion. I do not think I am the mentally challenged one; a group that violates the same principles it is trying to uphold only harms it’s cause. Critical Mass is trying to get motorists to respect cyclists right to the road: but their tactics violate the laws of the road (blocking intersections, riding through red lights, etc.). Once Critical Mass recognizes the rights of other citizens and obeys the same laws as everyone else, then I will come check it out and ride with you. However, I will not participate in Critical Mass as long as it is Criminal Mass.

  9. The frustrating thing for anyone who has lived in Seattle (or one of its suburbs) is that bicyclists seem intent on obeying the laws and requiring that they be enforced only when it is convenient. I’ve been cut off on the road by a slow moving cyclist who promptly pulled into the crosswalk, nearly running over real pedestrians, at a red light. It’s ridiculous that we allow them both options and that Critical Mass thinks they have a legitimate complaint. If riders would recognize that they either are pedestrians or vehicles and not both, there would be a lot less injuries, accidents and fatalities. Most of the time its simply their fault.

  10. Joel, are you dense or something? Don’t you understand the concept of civil disobedience? Yes, Critical Mass rides during Friday night traffic downtown and in the heart of the city to make a point to everyone that there are a lot of cyclists that use the same roads that all the car drivers use. And for once — just one short time out of the whole month — they take over the road, and yes, everyone has to wait for them and acknowledge that they’re there for, oh my god, like a MINUTE until they pass on. Boo hoo. Stop being such a crybaby and deal with it. So sorry you and “everyone else” have to be delayed in getting home to your “families.” Does it occur to you that not everyone is like you? If you ever went on a Critical Mass ride you’d see the tremendous diversity of people who are there. It’s a neat thing to see. And, BTW your info about the July incident, upon which you base so much of your opinions, is, um, completely inaccurate. Did you read anything beyond the initial article that appeared in the Seattle Times? The incident was not as you described, parroting someone else’s bad reporting. I know, because I was on that ride. You’re quite ill-informed, and like a lot of ill-informed people, you have ignorant opinions. Check yourself, and for god’s sake, stop being so self-righteous. It would be distasteful even if your opinions were better informed.

  11. Dave, Civil disobedience is a tactic used to correct severe social wrongs. However, what is the severe social wrong against bicyclists? Bicyclists already have equal rights to the road and have many laws in place to protect them. Criminal Mass is a group of people who want to aggressively impose themselves upon others without a clear sense of purpose. Criminal Mass has much more in common with vigilantes than any sort of real civil disobedience movement.

  12. Regardless of the inaccuracies of how something is reported, the base fact is that people were attacked. There is no good reason for grown adults to attack one another or damage personal propererty. While Dave may be one of the better people out there riding, his own statement of the diversity of the group tells us that he cannot guarantee that there are no bad apples riding along, spoiling for a fight with motorists. Just because someone comes along for a worthy cause does not necessarily make them a good person. Bullies are present in every demographic slice, including the eco-friendly. Unless you have a permit from the city, you do NOT have the right to block roads “for, oh my god, like a MINUTE”. Take away the car and the bicycle for a moment; if you restrict me from going somewhere, confine me with no way out, and you have no legal reason to do so, that’s called false imprisonment. Before dismissing the inconvenience of drivers as being petty, perhaps Dave should look into why he will not deal with the inconvenience of his group being split up by a traffic light – this is not a race, so the stragglers should be able to catch up. The light only last for oh my god, two or three MINUTES…. =) This corking thing has to stop – period. It hampers the effectiveness of emergency responders. Other Critical Mass groups have stated that they “part like the Red Sea” for emergency vehicles, which is nice. My question is what happens when an ambulance is two blocks back, around a corner where they can’t see it, and stuck in gridlock? One minute is an *eternity* for emergency responders. Many times, mere seconds mean the difference between life and death. Your child’s kidnappers can escape with a minute’s head start. You can choke to death in one minute. Many things can happen in one minute. One minute it may be (but doubtful with that many riders) that you’re blocking traffic at *every* intersection, but the ensuing gridlock can take an hour to unsnarl, placing innocents at risk. For someone pointing the finger and saying “Check yourself, and for god’s sake, stop being so self-righteous”, Dave appears to be seated on a pretty high horse, looking down on everyone else. Next time he calls 911, perhaps the dispatcher should say “Call back in a minute; I’m still on break – one minute won’t make a difference.”

  13. it looks like we have this now in silicon valley. last friday a few thousand people went from santa clara to mountain view and back. it was mostly a hassle nothing as bad as this so far. they claim to be trying to have understanding but they just seem like they want to go to liquor stores and vandalize parking garages. i bike everyday to work and the last thing i need is animosity from motorists. this childish behavior from CM punks must come to an end.

  14. Preventing someone from leaving or exiting is a felony?! I admit that some of those guys go too far but it is just bicyclists asserting their right to the road, and it’s fun too, come on down.

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