To call this anything short of a tragedy would be wrong, but when nine people on bikes were injured by an automobile in Brazil, one has to ask, critically, “How did this happen?” Fortunately, there were no fatalities.
It would take nine people getting plowed by a Volkswagen before I would ever hear of Critical Mass, the subversive worldwide bike network that organizes monthly rallies. But now I have, and I was surprised to learn that these were not “bikers,” but cyclists on bicycles. Their Wikipedia entry suggests that their intentions are more social than political, but even those participating in the monthly rides admit that the groups’ own social courtesies, such as sharing the road, become lost concepts.
Critical Mass has a different flavor from city to city — there’s a big variety in size, respect of traffic laws (or lack thereof), interaction with motorists, and intervention by police. So if you want to know more about Critical Mass, you’ll really need to find out what your local ride is like.
And if you give that site a gander, you can see that even the guy running it got tired of the tactics of some of their groups. The driver reportedly had his 15-year-old son in the car with him, and one would doubt that the father set out to teach his kid how to mow down a pack of Brazilian hippies. Richard Neis, 47, would abandon his vehicle before giving himself up to authorities.
But yeah, running over people is bad, but this is what cycling will have to do to get back into the news without Lance Armstrong. Am I right, America?