Brazil Critical Mass Ride Attacked By Murderous Motorist

February 27th, 2011 by hughillustration

Updated below!

On Friday night in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a motorist intentionally plowed through a large, peaceful crowd of bicyclists participating in that city’s Critical Mass ride. It is a horrific incident, captured on video from several angles. If this is not attempted murder with a deadly weapon, I don’t know what is.

We don’t have much information, but it does appear that at least 12 people were injured. Luckily no one was killed. Treehugger has a translation of a post from the Porto Alegre Critical Mass blog:

Yesterday, as on every last Friday of the month Critical Mass was held, which is a manifestation of what happens in the world when cyclists seek space in traffic, to raise awareness that we ARE PART of the traffic. Bicycles are a self-sustainable, less expensive, and environmentally friendly alternative, even if they’re commonly associated with leisure and recreation.
But what happened yesterday was beyond any expectation we could have had. A driver / killer ran over our group of cyclists. What happened was very scary, and I did not understand what was happening, because we could hear screams and the sound of people falling on the ground, the sound of bodies in the hood, windshield, on the asphalt. I saw legs in the air, helmets, bicycles, arms, all mixed together with parts of the car… all flying and making noise. It was like a horror movie.

Other news sources say the attacker has been identified.

Although police found the badly damaged car on Friday night they have not yet been able to locate it’s driver thought to be the 47-year old owner of the vehicle, Ricardo José Neif [actually the name is Ricardo José Neis according to a commenter here]. While local cyclists have called for the driver to be charged with attempted murder, according to Porto Alegre’s Police Chief, Gilberto Montenegro it is not yet possible to say if the driver intended to run over the cyclists, maybe he hasn’t seen the videos. However, Chief Montenegro has said that If intent is proven the driver may wel face a charge of attempted murder.

One cyclist who was on the ride Camilo Colling, told the Brazilian website Terra Brasil that he spoke to the driver just before the incident, asking him to be patient and stop behaving aggressively towards the riders in his path and warning him that there were children and older people taking part in the ride ahead. The driver allegedly replied “Yes but I’m in a hurry” before ploughing his car in to the group of cyclists in front of him.

Our hearts are with the victims of this horrific crime. Let’s dedicate the March Critical Mass to our friends in Brazil, so they know that they are not alone. And let’s hope the violent attacker will be held accountable for his crime.

Here’s the video (warning: violent images)”

Update: I asked a friend who speaks and reads Portugese to give a rough translation of the latest news. Here’s what he said:

The latest news on their blog is that a particular person was identified as the motorist responsible, and he was planning to turn himself in to the police today (Sunday). Although nobody died, the other Critical Mass riders are upset that press reports have used the term “accident” instead of language like “attack” or “attempted murder”. The Porto Alegre CM community is extremely angry and is planning some protests, including one that already happened and a large rally upcoming on March 3.

This cartoon

translates as something like “well, I’m from Porto Alegre”, or “it’s just that I’m from Porto Alegre”, or “it’s because I’m from Porto Alegre”.

According to this article, there were 10 cyclists hit and 5 of them were taken to a hospital for medical attention. That article also says that it was a hit-and-run.

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59 Responses to “Brazil Critical Mass Ride Attacked By Murderous Motorist”

  1. Eric Hopper says:

    There is a lot of blaming of Critical Mass here. In my experience, this incident is simply a magnified version of what many bicycle rider’s deal with every day. It may be unusual or horrific because people who don’t ride bikes don’t experience the problem. But I think, to many bicycle riders, it’s just everyday life magnified by 20 or 30 bicyclists at a time instead of just one.

    I think the reason why Critical Mass exists, and the reason they act the way they do is that a significant minority of people who drive cars routinely ignore bicyclists or blame bicyclists for their own mistakes.

    It’s basically impossible in many places for a bicyclist to follow traffic laws (many of which do not make sense for bicycles in the first place) and be treated with respect by car drivers.

  2. Mr aziod says:

    Im in my 30s and have never owned a car, and agree with the idea. Less cars are better for the environment but critical mass is insane. I was comming back in my friends car from jersey to new York. They blocked traffic, harassed drivers who were coming of a bridge. We were comming back from a job that required a car that was 60 miles away. The critical massholes were blowing whistles shouting at drivers who had children in there car. Please someone
    Tell me how critical mass expects people to get get behind there movement, when there tactics
    Are to agravate drivers who are doing nothing wrong. You damage your own cause. You will never be taken seriosly. And I dont even believe that the people who participate in the protest even care about the environment. You come Off like a bunch if overgrown children with no place to put your anger. It seems you Like having people hate you more than spreading awareness to your cause. I’m not trying start an argument or condone injuring protesters, but if i was driving someone to a hospital in an emergency and I was stressed maby I would have plow over a demonstrator.
    Please respond back

  3. Mr. Aziod: I’m not sure why you left this message here, since it seems you had a run-in with a completely different group on the other side of the country. On this blog, we’ve been saying over and over again that no one should harass motorists in this way (and it doesn’t happen often in San Francisco). That said, it does sound as if the people you encountered were acting like jerks.

    The hospital question has been dealt with before, but one more time: I have seen with my own eyes 2000 cyclists get out of the way within seconds to allow emergency vehicles to pass. Motorized traffic can’t do that. The real threat to emergency vehicles is the dangerous number of enormous, clumsy, slow-moving automobiles that clog every traffic artery in the country, on every day of the week or month, whether there is a Critical Mass ride or now. If you want ambulances and fire trucks to get to their destination faster, ride a bike!

  4. LB says:

    Bad news: the driver has just been released from prison. He will answer for the charges of attempted murder, in liberty! Please spread the word: if there’s international pressure, the judge may change his mind, as it has happened before, because in the beginning they were going to let him get away with a lame excuse, and it was mainly because of the repercussion it had abroad that the charges were made.

  5. Mr. Rivard says:

    You aren’t paying enough attention to eachother in these comments. Mr. Aziod brought up a valid point. If he was driving his own personal car to get someone to a hospital he (maybe) would hit a critical mass rider in the way. I’m not standing by that comment BUT that is a valid thought.

    HughIllustration side-stepped that and said he/she’s seen 2000 cyclists get out of the way of an emergency vehicle. Mr. Aziod wasn’t talking about an emergency vehicle he was talking about a personal vehicle in an emergency. If my loved ones are in desperate need of a hospital i’m not grabbing my bike to take them to the hospital. I’m driving them (in an emergency in which waiting for an ambulance isn’t optional).

    In Brazil these critical mass folks apparently didn’t have the proper permits to shut down the road they were riding on. So, a driver unaware that the road he is driving on (legally) is being completely illegaly blocked by bike riders.. what did they expect? The bikers got pissed there was a car on the streets in the middle of their CM and the driver was pissed there were bikers all over the place not letting him through.

    People snap all the time. When was the last time you heard of a cyclist snapping and running over people? Uhm, never because that cyclist got him by a truck 20 seconds after losing his mind. Cars win… it’s sad but true. 3000 pounds of metal wins over my 25 pound moutain bike.

  6. Critical Masses reputation is being undermined by allowing the circumcision ban people to ride with critical mass and promote their own ride within a ride called “genital integrity” ride. These racist activists ride alongside critical mass and promote anti circumcision which should be just their opinon. in other areas of their campaiging the circumcision ban people maintain and support hate literature picking on jewish people. they falsely portray jewish mohels as being child molestors. this is slander.

    I have been a fan of critical mass for years, but until the racists are gone, i am upset.

  7. Hi Titania,

    Thanks for your note. I hadn’t been aware that the circumcision ban folks were riding with us — they may have been there last month, but I didn’t see them myself.

    From time to time, people with different political agendas have ridden with Critical Mass. Since the ride does not have any official organizing committee, and there is no one “in charge,” we have no way of approving or disapproving of these actions. It may help to think of Critical Mass as a kind of rolling zocalo, a public square that moves through the city, providing space for free association and free speech.

    Hopefully you’ll continue to ride with Critical Mass and make use of that temporary public space to share your own views on circumcision bans, or anything else on your mind.



  8. Jeff Kee says:

    I come from a country where we had uprisings for democratic freedom, freedom of press, and a proper vote (yes, up until the 70s, they would pull stunts such as ballot box swaps, monitored ballots by the town council/mayor in the hands of the congressman or president in power). To see North Americans feel entitled to block the commute of a city over a bicycle usage is laughable at best. Perhaps if you had a wider view of international issues, and things that really matter to people, you would see how juvenile the whole concept is behind Critical Mass. Wake up and travel. The country I speak of, by the way, is South Korea. Similar things are happening in Egypt, Syria, Libya these days. Those are movements by the people I can support more. Critical Mass, in the viewpoints of an international citizen, is a petty cry from smug people who have nothing to complain about, so the found another issue to dwell on.

  9. mark thompson says:

    The driver was released without charges because he was deemed to be escaping from a potential dangerous situation. The Critical Mass riders were pounding on his car and threatening his son. He simply did not drive up and say “I’m in hurry” Nice skewed reporting. Now get the fuck off the road.