3 things about cyclist behavior were unfortunate here (I was a witness).
1 – the incident was escalated (partly) because a cyclist spit on the driver’s car. that didn’t help our case when talking to the officers
2 – some of us cyclists were doing a lot of yelling back and forth with the driver when the police arrived. we could have kept our voices down and made it look (correctly) like the driver was the one with anger management issues.
3 – perhaps because a lot of the cyclists on the ride were new to the area (students? i saw a lot of unfamiliar faces), the ride was taking up all 3 lanes of 5th before we turned onto Halket, which distracted attention from the driver’s behavior
All that being said, as I saw the hit take place, I was quite sure that the driver was about to strike and maim/kill a number of riders. The girl who was hit (I didn’t get her name, but had been having a nice talk with her just a few minutes before) was VERY lucky. The driver was belligerent and driving recklessly in and out of the bus lane and trying to force his way through the pack of riders. I don’t feel his behavior was in any way excusable. Unfortunately, as I said earlier, I feel that some of the behavior cyclists displayed to the police distracted the officers from the largest issue (assault with a vehicle).
Some facts from my point of view:
1 – Driver was attempting to pass cyclists by using the bus lane.
2 – Driver was gunning his engine and trying to pass through the group of riders as we turned onto Halket.
3 – Driver came to a stop, yelled back and forth with a few riders, then accelerated again and struck the victim.
4 – The group of cyclists was pretty spread out and did take up 3 lanes of 5th a few times. Several riders were encouraging others to stay closer together, but the group was large and somewhat disorganized.
Dark Green Chevy Uplander
License Plat Number: FVN 0652
My closing thought is that we as cyclists need to exercise common sense as we do events like Critical Mass. I intend to keep riding the last Friday of the month; I think this is an important way to raise visibility for cycling in the city. If, indeed, the driver in this Friday’s incident didn’t receive a citation, I hope the victim takes him to court. No amount of annoyance, however legitimate, at cyclists’ behavior is an excuse for physical assault.