We’re enduring another Critical Mass tempest in a teapot here in San Francisco. Unlike New Yorkers, who have doggedly faced down intense police and legal harassment for years now, but are still routinely arrested and have their bikes stolen month after month, we in SF have had an easy time of it. In fact, as I already posted in my last entry, the March 30 ride was fantastic, leaving from the foot of Market around 6:20 or so, twisting and turning brilliantly through downtown, whipping around City Hall and out through the Mission, all the way to the Excelsior via San Jose Ave., back through the Bayshore/Industrial district, north on 3rd Street after an intelligent regrouping at Jerrold and 3rd… by then the ride was down to about 800 or so. I left a bit later, about 8:15, as we passed 16th at 3rd, where I turned west on 16th. At that point it was still an amazing euphoric ride, full of good cheer, and nary a bad incident reported.
As I heard it from a friend who kept going, the ride went towards the ballpark, then through downtown again, into North Beach, through the Broadway Tunnel (ugh) west through Pacific Heights, before turning south again near Alta Plaza. No more than several dozen riders were left by then, and some of them apparently got into an altercation with a woman in her SUV. According to Kate McCarthy of the Bike Coalition, via my pal Joel who got her account:
“She says the typical aggressive push through the crowd by the driver was all over and done with AND THEN, after she drove a block farther, she hit a cyclist and that’s when the crowd went crazy and the lousy p’lice got involved. She heard the cop tell the injured cyclist that the only way they’d even take a report is if the guy was taking a ride in an ambulance.”
So this story gets twisted by gossip columnists for the SF Chronicle, long-time Critical Mass baiters and haters Matier and Ross. Two worse excuses for writers would be hard to find. Their bread and butter is inflaming politicians and the public over the trivial and the stupid. In this case, the woman’s car was trashed after she’d hit someone and tried to escape, but M&R wrote a piece making her sound like an innocent passerby. Even in their piece, quoting the police, she supposedly ‘tapped’ a bicycle… how does a 3,000 lb. SUV “tap” a bicycle? It was laughable when the piece was published this morning, and it’s worse now.
It seems to have set off a mini-storm of vitriol and abuse by the 101st Fighting Keyboardists of the Bay Area, sitting at their computers waiting for someone to blame for their miserable lives. Of course! Must be those goddamn bicyclists! They’re out there having a good time, free of the debt ball and chain that keeps these morons attached to their cars, jobs, and boring lives. They have friends, they’re changing life, they’re engaged in making something real and tangible and worthy…
I got a letter from someone I don’t know today, somehow expecting me to be responsible for this event. I reprint my exchange below.