Going Going Bike

Feb 282011

A truly horrific event occurred in Brazil on Friday evening (February 25). A motorist ploughed into a group of cyclists enjoying a critical mass ride in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. Thankfully no one died but the incredible video footage of the incident is shocking.

What it shows (see Youtube video below, does contain disturbing footage of incident so beware) is a peaceful critical mass in the Brazilian city that is interrupted when a motorist in a Volkswagen Golf goes through the middle of the road at speed knocking over cyclists like bowling skittles.

It left me sick when I first watched it and is very hard to watch. It’s a miracle that no one was killed.

Abandoned car

The car owner has been named locally but it is not yet certain that the driver in the car was that individual. Whoever it was, abandoned the car in another part of the city much later in the evening before disappearing.

Local police were able to identify the car used in the incident after cyclists in the ride had noted down the car registration number prior to the car ploughing into the crowd due to the aggressive behaviour of the driver.

Driver behaviour

According to local reports and witness statements, the motorist had been encroaching at the back of ride and was asked by riders to back off, but was increasingly agitated by the ride moving slow and had been driving at cyclists before breaking suddenly. Moments later the driver of course carried his act of a madman and attempted murder.

Over 100 cyclists participated in the critical mass ride. From the incident 10 were injured, eight with injuries that required hospital treatment.

No arrest yet

Reports out of Brazil suggest that police don’t see the incident as yet as intentional and will wait to question the driver of the vehicle before taking action. It is understood that a man that police want to question in relation to the incident will voluntarily hand himself today.

It is quite clear from the video that this incident is attempted murder, pure and simple. However antagonistic critical mass rides can be, there is no way it justifies this behaviour.


The driver of the Volkswagen Golf intends to give himself up to local Porto Alegre police but is claiming self defence as his motive for piling through the cycle riders at the critical mass event.

The driver has been named locally as Richard Neis, a 47 year old resident of Porto Alegre. A statement made by Mr Neis’ lawyer, Luis Fernando Coimbra Albino, contends that Mr Neis ploughed through the cyclists after being threatened by riders at the back of the ride.

Mr Neis was travelling with his 15 year old son in his car and Mr Albino said the instinct to protect his son may have motivated Mr Neis’ actions.

According to reports in Brazilian newspaper Zero Hour, Mr Neis’ son said that a number of cyclists had been banging on the sides of the Golf and his father had driven away at speed to get away from those people.

Mr Albino said Mr Neis would fully cooperate with any police investigation on the incident.

To read more on the events of Friday, please visit the The Puerto Alegre Critical Mass blog (in Portuguese)

Photo used courtesy of Ramiro Furquim

  23 Responses to “Shock as car ploughs into critical mass ride”

  1. [...] more than ticked off. Neis tailed the Critical Mass bikers for some distance in his black VW Golf before gunning the engine and plowing into them. [...]

  2. Sounds like one of the highlights of this event is obstructing traffic and making life hell for motorists just trying to go about their daily business. The driver’s reaction was way out of line but there is fault on both sides.

  3. [...] days after the events in Porto Alegre, cycling communities around the world are still in shock at what happened in the city on Friday night when a driver ploughed through cyclists participating in a critical [...]

  4. @AJ, it’s a scheduled event on a mapped route. Do motorists have the right to mow down marathoners? No. “Way out of line” is one hell of an understatement. This is attempted murder and the guy should go to jail for the rest of his life and you AJ, need to take a look at yourself and your beliefs.

  5. What gives these people the right to slow down traffic to a crawl on an obviously busy street, they could have also pulled on the side of the freaking road to let the cars pass… They’re driving bikes for christ sakes, take it to a goddamn trail or somewhere out of traffic, the only place cars are allowed to drive. Good on this guy for teaching those idiots to get the hell out of the middle of the road, which were built for CARS, not bikes.

    They threatened his and his son’s life, the cause was justified, mowing down a dozen idiotic hippies who don’t know their place will show others not to threaten someone in a car while on a bike and to not be an idiot and hold up traffic by biking in the middle of the goddamn street.

  6. @yeahright

    The man deserves a fucking plaque. The bikers at the event started threatening him and he tried to get through. No one stopped to let one car through. Taking 5 seconds to stop and let a man with his son get through, to avoid having this car or possibly anyone in the car hurt by the bikers in the back, isn’t very hard. You need to take a shotgun to the face for trying to be act all liberal about a biking event that had no one with common sense. For god’s sake people were recording the accident while screaming “call the police” instead of doing it themselves.

  7. @yeahright
    you sound like a typical hipster douchebag.

  8. @yeahright, Critical Mass is a scheduled event but NOT on a mapped route, nor is it registered with any City by-laws. It does not have police support to indicate routes nor does it include any traffic control. It is merely a gathering of protesters riding their bikes on the road without regard for traffic laws.

    Bikes are vehicles of the road as well and should be following traffic laws. I do not say the man was correct in running them down, but cyclists are not correct in clogging thoroughfares built for cars

  9. @yeahright… I agree with AJ. The driver was out of line, but look up critical mass incidents on the net and you can see that Critical Mass had this (or something similar) coming. when your organization routinely pisses off the rest of the public eventually there will be some backlash.

    Mr Neis could very well have feared for his life, seeing how the actions of critical mass riders in the past have been, I would not be surprised if we was in real physical danger.

  10. @yeahright

    you are being more than a little dishonest… marathoners get a permit, police know before hand, they close roads. Many Critical Mass events are “spontaneous”… and specifically avoiding permits. organizers are generally nameless and hide behind anonymity. And more often than not absolutely Intends to interfere with traffic. many properly done events LEAVE A LANE OPEN, so they slow down traffic but not entirely. But more often than not, some participants take glee in blocking all traffic intentionally for the express purpose of angering motorists.

    doesnt excuse the nut of course, but the riders have responsibilities too

  11. WOW! With his 15 year old son in the car… way to go, Dad! Who’s going to teach your son ethics when you are in prison.

  12. More alarming than the act itself is, in my opinion, people here and on other forums attempting to justify attempted murder by a plea that the cyclists were slowing down traffic.

    Effectively you’re saying that if someone slows you down you have the right to try and kill them.

    You don’t.

    You are wrong.

    What this person did is in no possible way justifiable or even understandable. He tried to kill people because he was impatient, and, as someone else has stated here, he should go to jail for the rest of his life as he is very obviously a danger to other people.

    Anyone who thinks that slowing traffic is a just cause for attempted murder needs to take some time out to seriously review their perspective on the world.

    By all means have a debate about the methods employed by critical mass, but don’t try and justify attempted murder, you utter dicks.

  13. If car drivers respected cyclists more, and accepted that they have to share the road with other road users, including cyclists, then there would be little need for Critical Mass rides. As it is, this incident serves to highlight exactly why the rides should continue to happen. And to those who have justified that actions of the driver, I wonder what your reaction would be if it was an articulated lorry crashing through a small car.

  14. I think what shocks me about these comments is that they are on a bike site! Wow.

    • Most of the comments apparently supporting the driver were posted by people in the US. It certainly does highlight the power the motorist seems to enjoy over there…
      The comments were permitted in the interest of promoting debate and highlighting the problems faced by cyclists all over the world.

  15. What happened in Brazil is not ok & is the sole fault of the driver. He chose to hurt people, no one chose that path for him.

    That said it was inevitable that a CM would eventually cross paths with someone with enough anger in them and a short enough fuse to do this.

    Having attended several CM’s I decided that they are just too full of aggravation to participate in. They create anger rather than understanding. There’s a contingent of cycling folk that love arguing with drivers & a part of drivers that love creating fear in the cyclists. CM means well, but what comes out of it offers little benefit.

  16. @JF. It’s true that many roads were built entirely for cars. That is something that CM tries to highlight. That for those who believe cars aren’t the way to get around, there isn’t a good alternative. Bikes are great for health, economy, environment, and personal wellness, yet in many cities the infrastructure is living in a past where we foolishly thought individual cars were a good idea.
    In addition, your other arguments are flawed. By your logic, what this driver taught was that if you harass or make him late in his car he will plough into other people. It doesn’t teach us any bigger picture.
    Also it is well proven that cycling “in the middle” of the street is safer than cycling off to the side. Many car drivers don’t know this.
    It is also well documented that calling someone a “hippy” and then saying that a guy was was prepared to run said “hippies” over with his car might be scared of them is a bit of an oxymoron. It’s like saying that in a bar fight you’d bet on a Greenpeace picketer over a gun-toting member of the NRA.
    The guy had a loaded weapon that he used on unarmed people who were slowing him down. If he had used a gun to get protesters out of his way, would you feel different?
    Come on JF, while perhaps you don’t agree with CM’s process (I don’t), you certainly can’t be so callous to believe it warranted attempted murder.

  17. Completely James, it is interesting to see and be suprised by what people think.

  18. It doesn’t matter that this was cyclists and a car driver. It could have been any minority trying to be heard over the booming authority of majority.
    To be part of community you must stand up against oppression. You must let many voices be heard. You must not resort to violence when you don’t agree.
    This event is an example just like Kent State or Tiananmen Square or Rosa Parks of the majority literally destroying the minority with malice and without care or humanity.
    Of course the driver wasn’t part of the government, but he is a part of the overwhelming majority who either don’t understand cyclists rights or don’t agree with them and if the government sanctions his actions by not punishing him then the government is in fact saying that they agree these actions are alright and these prejudices can continue.
    It’s not about Critical Mass, it’s about the right to protest without threat to your life. It’s about the right to free speech.
    While people like JF and NolmRight have the right to say what they like, so did the cyclists and that right was cut short by one guy with a short fuse.
    This should be a sad day for anyone who appreciates the right to say what they hold true.
    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.
    -Martin Niemoller

  19. Well said Roxy.
    And well done Goinggoingbike for allowing the comments of the anti-cyclist brigade to remain. In doing so, you prove yourself far bigger than they could ever hope to be.
    Maybe that is what they fear.

  20. I am a cyclist. I ride everyday. I volunteer at a community bike shop three times a week. Biking means a lot to me, and all my friends. I ride in the bike lane, and when there isn’t one I ride cautiously to the side.
    Having been a ‘member’ of a few major cycling communities in Canada, I cant attest to the ridiculousness that Critical Mass can be; some riders are out there to give car-driving commuters hell. If I was getting harassed I would like to think that I would have dealt with the situation differently, but when you corner a dog, don’t be surprised when it bites.
    That being said, I really feel for those who were protesting peacefully and respectfully.

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