Monday, August 10, 2009

Uppity, Snobby Critical Mass Bicyclists Rough Up Innocent Motorist, Block Vehicular Traffic During Group Ride In Ogden, Utah; Four Cyclists Arrested

A small number of an estimated 70 bicyclists participating in a Critical Mass group bicycle ride gave all of them a bad name after a recent confrontation with a motorist and some cops in Ogden, Utah, and four were arrested by police. Stories published by KSTU Channel 13, the Deseret News, the Ogden Standard-Examiner, and KSL Channel 5. The reliable Weber County Forum has also chimed in, and witnesses have posted comments of interest there.

The incident occurred on Friday August 7th, 2009. The problems started after a motorist stopped at a red light at 23rd and Grant Avenue. When the light turned green, she couldn't move forward because of the bikes and honked her horn. Several of the cyclists immediately chimped out and yelled obscenities at her. One cyclist deliberately threw a cup of soda thorough the woman's open car window, hitting her flush in the face. When the motorist pulled forward attempting to escape her attacker, her vehicle bumped one of the bicycles, causing minor damage to the fender and wheel. Then she called police.

Meanwhile, the group continued its ride to 24th Street and Lincoln Avenue, where two individuals audaciously halted traffic, entered the intersection and began escorting the other riders through even though the light was red. Angry motorists were forced to maneuver around the pair and more gestures were made and obscenities yelled. The scene was observed by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper and Weber County deputy who were assisting the Ogden City gang unit for the weekend. They arrived and instructed the two cyclists to leave the intersection and talk with them. One complied, but the other pedaled away after the group.

Deputy Trevor Petersen pursued the individual, eventually tackling him off his bike. Petersen's actions surprised the group, which then surrounded him. He ordered them to move away and called for backup, the report said. Eventually more than six officers arrived to help disperse the irate crowd. Four people were subsequently arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and public intoxication. They were identified as Samuel Mc-Kay, 26; Sara Fulks, 33; Donald Hall, 61; and KC Shirra, 19. A 12-pack of beer was located in Fulks' backpack. KSTU news video embedded below:

Although KSL Channel 5 is now reporting that some members of Critical Mass met with Ogden Police on Monday August 10th to smooth things over, this story has triggered an explosion of comments on the Standard-Examiner. One of the cyclists whose bike was tapped by the motorist weighed in (broken into paragraphs to improve readability):

By: old Schwinn CM rider @ 08/09/2009, 3:46 PM

I was one of the ones that was hit by the women in the Pontiac on 23rd and Grant Ave. She struck me after hitting another cyclist as she was trying to leave the seen. She was on her phone not paying attention to what was going on around her. After she struck the first person I tried to get her to stop because I was going to call the Police. She then revved her car up and struck me from behind.

The police arrived on the seen and took her side. She was being very flirtatious with the cops and using every bit of her womanly attributes to her favor. The police were using vulgar and obscene language in front of women and small children. More importantly to me was they kept on using the F word and referring to us as A**holes in-front of my 60 year old mother and my girlfriend. These are the people who are supposed to be in a position of authority. Protect and severe [serve]. The young woman was not charged of course. She was allowed to leave laughing and giggling the whole way. Apparently this was a laughing matter to her and the police.

I was left with a severely damaged bicycle and a pinched sciatic nerve. I have been involved in cycling my whole life and see CM as a positive thing. There were a few people that were drinking beer prior to the ride but never did I see any alleged drug use. No one that was arrested was breathalyzer or drug tested. These are out right lies.

Here's a comment from someone who was more critical. This person also reveals the true agenda of Critical Mass; to make a political statement by forcing people to acknowledge them:

By: Critical Mass @ 08/09/2009, 2:08 PM

To anyone who was not there, please restrain your opinions to facts in evidence. I was there. I rode the bike. Yes, some auto drivers responded negatively. But, if you study the history of CM nationwide, that was no surprise. It's kind of the point of the whole affair.

I also have had things thrown at me, have been yelled at by belching trucks full of cowboys etc. I do not think that gives me the right to drink and drive, or run from the police.

In San Francisco, they had to basically get a court injunction to be able to ride, as thousands show up, and refuse to get a parade permit. Why would they have to, its not a parade, its a display of how great things would be if people who could would just ride instead of drive.

So, yes, there is precedent of trouble. The organizers, who I spoke to before the ride, know this. It is disingenuous to think this was not provoked, or that they did not get a secret rise in their internal street-cred as the trouble started. Thats what the psychology of protest is all about.

That all said: I was embarrassed by many of the CM riders behavior. Not all, but many. I think some of them have deep issues about being so far left in a state like Utah, what did someone call them, hippies? heh. Maybe not that green, but if you get a bunch of drunks and stoners together, tell them to go stick it in the face of the Man, you know it is going to get out of control.. From what I saw, the police had the right to arrest far more than they did. They could have maced/tazered a few. If they had searched a few people, they would have found a lot of marijuana, as I witnessed quite a few surreptitiously smoking weed right before, and a few immediately into the ride.

I will not participate in CM in Ogden, under this organizing group again.
They basically were all but inciting to riot. As for Sarah, yeah I know her. She is generally a nice person. I don't think the fact that she is a raging drunken pothead has anything to do with this.

A third commenter, Ted Dunn, tries to provide a more balanced account:

By: Ted Dunn @ 08/09/2009, 10:19 AM

I think this story goes to show how good the pr people for Ogden City are. I was an actual participant, not a spin doctor like the "CM Participant" username. I actually saw both incidents, and this story paints a false picture. I arrived late at the scene with the auto collision, so I didn't see how all that started, but the "bumping" of the bike was not incidental.. She revved her motor and lurched forward intending to strike the cyclist or at least scare him out of the way. I agree that only police officers should ever block traffic in an intersection, and I was waiting at the red light at the second incident.. The motorist that "had to manuver the intersection" would have only had to wait a moment for the group to get through, but instead they sped through the intersection nearly hitting the cyclists.. You would have some mean words and gestures for the redneck in the green truck that just tried to run you down because he couldn't wait an extra 20 seconds before being able to go on through the intersection. And if you say you wouldn't you're a liar. I was closer than the arrested cyclist to the officer that was driving the white truck that took up more time blocking the intersection and I was even unsure of who he was yelling at to stop.. The one person that he seemed to be talking to actually stopped.. And I'm not surprised that the other rider rode away that officer exited the vehicle very Irate and confrentational from the 1st second.. It was unclear who the officer was telling to stop, and even if he did hear him it doesn't give him the right to tackle him off of the bike, it was completely wrong and over-the-top.. I think that the officers dash cams need to be reviewed by a neutral party and then the truth could be seen. The police involved in this incident where hostile and treated the situation poorly.. I was trying to notify one officer that I actually saw the incodent and could give an accurate description and he told me that I could be arrested for speaking to him loudly and I needed to "shut up" if I didn't want to go to jail.

Most likely, Dunn's account might be closer to the truth. But Critical Mass is an extremist organization that engages in guerrilla theater to make political statements and force public recognition of their existence. Their website teems with accounts of confrontations they've had with police in numerous cities. While they are most likely the "one-percenters" of the cycling community, they do give bicyclists a bad name. And many cyclists denounce CM's tactics.

It should also be noted that motorists behave badly towards cyclists as well. One area of difficulty is at traffic intersections. A motorist approaches an intersection and wants to turn right. A bicyclist is pacing the driver on the right. The motorist, assuming that the cyclist will yield, turns right. The cyclist does not yield. Bingo - accident! When cyclists behave like traffic, we need to treat them like traffic.

Compromise is the key.

No comments: