When I saw this video earlier today I was chilled to the bone. During a Critical Mass ride in Puerto Alegre, Brazil a driver took his car straight through the middle of over a hundred cyclists at high speed. Thankfully nobody was killed, but at least 12 were injured as they bounced off his hood. Richard Neis, found after abandoning his vehicle, is now in custody and faces potential attempted murder charges.

Having participated in more Mass rides than I can count, this scares the hell out of me. I’m no stranger to threats, shouts, honks and even a light nudge now and then – during critical mass rides or simply while out on the street. This is exactly why Critical Mass happens around the world, and why it needs to. Every day, here and around the world, people on bikes get threatened, hit, killed, or physically assaulted for asserting their right to ride bicycles on the road. Almost none of this is ever even investigated by police, who far more often choose simpler methods to “enforce” bike safety where they blitz downtown handing out tickets for riding on sidewalks and other offences. This is not an isolated incident.

Here in Hamilton, things are so bad that in front of City Hall (where they were presenting), on Main St, visiting representatives of the famous Montreal Bixi bike rental program looking to expand here were shouted at to “get off the road” by a passing driver. As someone who cycles all the time in this city, I can certainly attest that it isn’t rare. Worldwide, cars are a leading cause of death (outpacing war and suicide by many measures) and are rising quickly, expected to be in the top three by 2020. And while many claim that careless or lawless cyclists are to blame, a recent study of Toronto police reports showed that when bikes and cars collide, drivers are at fault 90% of the time (and 75% for motorcycles). For all the rhetoric that there is a “war on cars”, it’s clear that this war isn’t “against” them at all. And we, sadly, are taking casualties.

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