San Francisco police investigating confrontation between driver, Critical Mass cyclists

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — San Francisco police Tuesday said they are working with a car sharing company to identify the vehicle and driver involved in an altercation with bicyclists in a Critical Mass ride in the city’s Marina District Friday night.

No police report was filed after the incident, which became public after a video was posted to YouTube showing a confrontation between cyclists and a driver in a Zipcar vehicle that ended with a cyclist striking the car multiple times with a bike lock. Police are initiating a report to document the incident because there is video evidence of a crime being committed, but “you need to have a victim to have a crime,” police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza said.

Police are also hoping someone will come forward that was involved or who knows the parties involved so they can get the bicyclists’ side of the story, Esparza said.

In the video posted online the day after the incident, a group of cyclists are seen partaking in the mass bicycle ride, which is held in San Francisco on the last Friday of each month.

Music is playing as the bikes roll through the intersection of Marina Boulevard and Lyon Street. The person who shot the video states that the incident occurred at 8:16 p.m.

In the video, the group attempts to cross Marina Boulevard by cutting across multiple lanes of traffic and then a driver of a Zipcar moves toward the cyclists.

A cyclist blocks the car’s path and shouts that the driver bumped his bike. Others join him, surrounding and blocking the car’s path. The driver attempts to back up and drive around the bicyclists and they block her path again.

The cyclist then takes his U-Lock and slams it against the car multiple times as it drives off. Cyclists can be heard in the video reading off the license plate of the car and commenting that the driver ran over a bike and a helmet.

San Francisco Critical Mass, which is not an organization and has no known leaders, is a monthly ride meant to promote awareness of bicyclists and bicycling among drivers and the public.

The Critical Mass website includes guidelines explicitly discouraging cyclists from picking fights with motorists “even (especially) if they’re itching for one.”

The guidelines also discourage riders from riding into oncoming traffic on the wrong side of the road.

In response to the incident, San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell, who represents the Marina District, released a statement condemning the behavior.

“The actions by the cyclists caught on video this past Friday evening participating in Critical Mass are disturbing and should never be tolerated in our city – especially the one cyclist seen attacking the vehicle with a bicycle lock repeated times,” Farrell states.

Farrell said that while he understands the history that Critical Mass has as a pro-bicycle protest movement in the city, and recognizes that most of the participants are respectful of others, he said the Critical Mass participants “must understand that actions like the ones this past Friday reflect poorly on the entire group and hurt the group’s overall message and movement.”

Farrell said he has reached out to the Police Department to evaluate how best to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

He said he hopes Critical Mass cyclists will “respect everyone and all the applicable traffic laws while participating.”

As of this afternoon, the YouTube video has more than 82,000 views and can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYAapAQ1urI.

Zipcar officials have not yet responded to a request for comment.

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