Horde of Bicycling Ruffians called Critical Mass Assaults Family of Seven I had never heard about this group before, but apparently, it takes place in more than one city. The short version of the story is that a horde of ruffians on bicycles, calling themselves "Critical Mass" surrounded and attacked a family of seven. The parents had taken their five children for an outing that, in America, should have been terror free. In San Francisco, thanks to some members of Critical Mass, it wasn't.
Susan Ferrando, her husband, their two children and three preteens had come to San Francisco . . . to celebrate the birthday of Ferrando's 11-year-old daughter. They went to Japantown, where they enjoyed shopping and taking in the blooming cherry blossoms.
[T]he family [left] Japantown . . . just as the party of about 3,000 bikers was winding down its monthly red-lights-be-damned ride through the city.
Suddenly, Ferrando said, her car was surrounded by hundreds of cyclists.
Not being from San Francisco, Ferrando thought she might have inadvertently crossed paths with a bicycle race and couldn't figure out why the police, who she had just passed, hadn't warned her.
Confusion, however, quickly turned to terror, she said, when the swarming cyclists began wildly circling around and then running into the sides of her Toyota van.
Filled with panic, Ferrando said, she started inching forward until coming to a stop at Post and Gough streets, where she was surrounded by bikers on all sides.
A biker in front blocked her as another biker began pounding on the windshield. Another was pounding on her window. Another pounded the other side.
"It seemed like they were using their bikes as weapons," Ferrando said. One of the bikers then threw his bike -- shattering the rear window and terrifying the young girls inside.(1)
There were cops on the scene and they declined to arrest Mrs. Ferrando despite the bike hooligans' demands that she be charged with a crime (they claim that she tapped one of the bikes with the her car; which could be considered at least a tort if these ruffians hadn't assumed the risk by surrounding the van and riding in very close quarters)(2)
Bicycle advocates . . . said . . . that Ferrando did more than tap the bicyclist, and that the incident occurred toward the end of the ride, when there were dozens -- not thousands -- of bicyclists in the area, as Ferrando claims. Bicycle Coalition executive director Leah Shahum said witnesses told her that Ferrando "recklessly accelerated" into a crowd and hit the bicyclist so hard the bike was lodged under her vehicle.(3)
I would be interested to hear how many bicycling belligerents the police counted. And when they're surrounding your car, dozens can look like scores, or even hundreds.
Personally, I am skeptical of any claim made by a group of Critical Mass' nature. They are known for blocking traffic, running red lights(4), and other lawless behavior, such as vandalism.(5) I think that New York has the right idea; they've begun arresting outlaw bicyclists who think that the rules of the road do not apply to them.(6)
San Fransisco Mayor Newsom has said, "[i]t does the bicycle-advocacy community no good to have people that are aggressive and dispirit the entire movement. I would encourage the bicycle coalition to say, 'Look, we don't put up with this, enough is enough.'"(7)
I think the mayor has some good advice. If Critical Mass isn't careful, they will see a new critical mass of people who are fed up with their lawless conduct and they will demand that their government do something about it. In states where people are actually allowed to defend themselves from attacks, these hooligans might find motorists retaliating, and when that happens, I predict they will scatter like cockroaches do when exposed to light.
(1) Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross. "Minivan's rude introduction to Critical Smash," San Francisco Chronicle, 2007 April 04, paras. 4-11, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/04/04/BAGF7P12RN23.DTL.
(2) Ibid. paras. 16-18.
(3) Cecilia Vega and Marisa Lagos. "Mayor vows 'a good look' at Critical Mass
Redwood City family's van damaged after being caught up in ride," San Francisco Chronicle, 2007 April 04, para. 4, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/04/04/BAGLRP2LEI8.DTL.
(4) Hannah Sutherland. "Cycling community celebrated Saturday," The Surrey Leader, 2007 March 23, para. 6, http://www.surreyleader.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=73&cat=23&id=859367&more=.
(5) Matier and Ross. para. 22.
(6) T.W. Farnam. "Critical Mass ride interrupted," Newsday, 2007 March 30, http://www.newsday.com/news/local/newyork/ny-nybike-0331,0,449624.story?coll=ny-top-headlines.
(7) Alexandria Rocha. "Newsom to Critical Mass: Police yourself," The Examiner, 2007 April 05, para. 3, http://www.examiner.com/a-657770~Newsom_to_Critical_Mass__Police_yourself.html.
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