Saturday 27 September 2008

Critical Mass, American style

Critical Mass, Seattle:

A stopped driver caught in the rally refused to wait, reversing, then accelerating into at least two riders. One bicyclist, whose leg was run over, said the driver was irate and aggressive, shouting at the cyclists for blocking his way. The driver, whose identity has not been released, later said he panicked and did not intend to hit any riders. Riders waylaid the man's Subaru station wagon as he tried to drive from the scene, police said. The driver was dragged from the car and hit in the head with a bicycle lock before police arrived.

A defence lawyer

praised the Prosecutor's Office for "thoroughly investigating allegations" against the men, but had harsh words for the Seattle Police Department for, in his view, failing to investigate the driver for vehicular assault. "I'm disturbed that the Seattle police made it clear that they were not taking that seriously," Hildes said. "It's a very scary thing when a motorist is going to use his vehicle as a deadly weapon against people who are delaying him for a matter of seconds."

In initial statements after the incidents, police said the driver was clearly the victim in the case.

In New York City:

Prosecutors are expected to drop criminal charges on Friday against a bicyclist who was pushed off his bike in July by a police officer in Times Square, said Mark M. Taylor, a lawyer for the bicyclist. The encounter was captured on amateur video. The bicyclist, Christopher Long, 29, was charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct on July 25 during a monthly ride called Critical Mass. The arresting officer, Patrick Pogan, wrote in his report that Mr. Long had been weaving in and out of traffic and that he had tried to hit the officer with his bicycle.

But video recorded by an onlooker soon surfaced on YouTube, showing Officer Pogan lowering his shoulder and shoving Mr. Long off his bike on Seventh Avenue at 46th Street as Mr. Long tried to steer out of the way. “I think they should give serious consideration to bringing perjury and assault charges against the cop,” Mr. Siegel said. “This is the way to get accountability over the police and reduce police misconduct. If you make this officer an example, then the message is: This kind of conduct is unacceptable and there will be legal consequences for it.”

Tensions have long existed between Critical Mass riders and the police, who complain that the riders ignore traffic laws.