East Bay Bike Party cyclists suffer reckless driver accident

Four days after being startled by an aggressive driver at this month’s East Bay Bike Party, an Aucklander is reluctant to get back in the saddle.

Tom, a local engineer who asked that his last name not be used, told the Oakland Side newspaper that his right leg was sore and his right elbow and arm were bloodied and bruised from being knocked on the ground on Alcatraz Street by someone driving a gray car. Recklessly through a crowd of cyclists.

“Nothing like this has ever happened to me,” Tom said. “I don’t know if I really want to cycle around town that much.”

Tom has been riding with hundreds of other people on the East Bay Bike Party, a monthly group ride that has lasted for over ten years.

Party on Wheels is seen by many as a way for residents to highlight green transportation options and celebrate cycling. On social media, organizers are urging participants to “ride in fun and safety” with stops along the way for dancing and socializing.

The apparent road rage incident occurred near the start of Friday’s 8 p.m. ride. The group was heading east on Alcatraz before turning left onto Shattuck Street where the collision occurred.

The driver who hit Tom and another cyclist has not been identified. The Oakland Police Department, which obtained eyewitness accounts and a license plate number, did not arrest anyone. In an email comment to KTVU last night, the outpatient department officer appeared to blame the riders, saying the department had received “multiple calls” from citizens “advising dozens of cyclists in the area near Alcatraz Street and Telegraph Street which caused a hazard It causes vehicular traffic. There have been no reports of a vehicle colliding with any cyclists.”

The outpatient office told the Auckland Side newspaper that it was currently investigating the hit-and-run incident.

Resident Matthew Lewis He said on Twitter He would like to know what the police are doing to get to the heart of the incident.

According to eyewitnesses, the car, a gray sedan driven by a white man, surprised everyone as it passed through the group without slowing down or stopping.

“I didn’t really know what happened,” Tom said. “I was looking at my friend back, having a conversation and then the next thing I knew I was on the floor. I thought a cyclist actually hit me. But then everyone started freaking out because it was a car.”

Ben Eichenberg, an Albany resident, was riding with his 13-year-old son and his son’s friend when he saw Tom getting hit. Then he got off to avoid the collision, but his bike crashed, as can be seen in the video. Eichenberg said it appeared the driver was deliberately trying to make a mess.

“People were yelling for him to stop and his window was closed. I knew he could hear but he just started moving faster and faster, as if he had accelerated just then [Tom]Eichenberg said. “There was no doubt in my mind that he did it on purpose. He seemed crazy and was using his car as a weapon.”

Eichenberg said he didn’t realize how close he was to getting hit until he saw the video on social media. Even more frightening, his teenage son was almost injured.

“My child felt it was a scary situation. But he also feels he was able to stay safe. The other kid who was with us was really shaky and wanted to go home right away.”

East Bay Bike Party participants view their rides as family events rather than a protest. The organizers also post safety slogans on social media, which are chanted throughout the trip to help people avoid potential conflicts.

“Stop at the lights. Stay right. Pack the trash. Don’t crash. Ride straight. And don’t be stingy,” were some of the chants the riders used that night.

Organizers also say they are encouraging people not to use fireworks, as they can be set off near unsuspecting people.

Sometimes participants take both lanes, causing the cars to pause for a short period of time.

Brad Johnson, a resident of District 700 of Alcatraz, said that a few minutes before the collision, a different, unidentified person decided to drive briefly into the western lane of Alcatraz to overtake cars and other cyclists. This slowed vehicular traffic and waited for a few minutes, which could have made the driver less impatient.

These are just the latest in a long line of hit-and-run incidents against cyclists, said Robert Prins, director of Bike East Bay, a nonprofit bike advocacy group that is not affiliated with or involved in organizing monthly bike parties. Cyclists are often blamed even though people who drive cars have much more power and can hurt or kill someone.

“We’ve seen comments on this story blaming the victim for cyclists, which is a sad testament to how dysfunctional and cruel some people’s perceptions of commuting and public spaces are,” Prins said. Prins said that even if they were on the wrong side of the road, “this in no way excuses anyone from using their vehicle as a weapon to assault them, and to leave the scene.”

Many people said that these instances of driver aggression could be completely avoided with better cycling infrastructure. Tom said he would be more inclined to start riding again if he knew he could use the protected bike lanes.

This is an easy solution. In general, Auckland and the Bay have a good cycling lane system, but there are still a lot of places where there are no good bike lanes,” he said.

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