Driver ploughs in to Brazilian Critical Mass ride +video (Warning! Disturbing content)

Police seek 47 year-old owner of car responsible

by Tony Farrelly   February 28, 2011  

Brazil Critical Mass

Video footage has captured the moments a peaceful critical mass ride in the city of Porto Alegre in south eastern Brazil on Friday evening turned into something much nastier when a motorist accelerated through a group of 130 riders, hitting 20 of them and putting 9 in hospital. The footage is not for the faint hearted.

Incredibly despite the shocking nature of the scenes captured in both films local media reports say that all of the injured cyclists were discharged from hospital after treatment.

Two films of the incident show a relaxed and peaceful Critical Mass ride suddenly turn in to something much more sinister and frightening when a black VW Golf, which according to some witnesses had been follow the ride for some time suddenly accelerates through the middle of the group of over 100 riders with predictably horrible results. The shorter video above contains subtitles and witness accounts, the longer film at the end of this piece is unsubtitled - predictably both films have attracted some hateful comments on Youtube.

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 Neis. 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.

The authorities recovered the car shortly after the incident and identified its owner, but Neif has so far proved more elusive having reportedly gone in to hiding. According to local reports a lawyer claiming to be acting for the driver has contacted police telling them that is client will surrender voluntarily on Monday – there has been no indication as yet whether that man will prove to be Ricardo Neis.

What offence he will be charged with remains to be seen, but many of those who were the victims of his actions or who witnessed them will not it seems be satisfied with anything less than attempted murder a possibility that has not been ruled out. 

You can read a blog posting by one of the Porto Alegre Critical Mass riders here - click 'translate' for an English language version. You can also find more reports on the Urban Country blog.

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17 user comments

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"hateful comments" eh? I can think of a few.... Angry Angry Angry

Chuffy's picture

posted by Chuffy [206 posts]
28th February 2011 - 2:18


"it is not yet possible to say if the driver intended to run over the cyclists"

He must have done his training in London in the Met Police.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
28th February 2011 - 2:45


Reading the reports carefully there seems to be thread that there was a sick passenger in the car and the driver was asking the cyclists to let him get to the hospital. The refusal to do this after a prolonged period indicates a substantial breakdown in the communication between the cyclists and driver and highlights one of the distasteful elements of riding with a Critical Mass of cyclists. Namely an element in the body of cyclists who go out of their way to obstruct drivers of motor vehicles.

Cyclists should look for a better example set by the line skating critical mass evenings that take place in London to see how it should be done. A vast horde flows effortlessly through the other traffic, making no attempt to block it but instead to show how much freer and happier they are with their choice of transport. Several otherwise committed campaigners for better cycling conditions refuse to go on a typical CM ride - simply because they see current CM's going around with an agenda to confront drivers.

It would be wonderful if London's cycling CM, learned from the skaters, and from this incident, before we get the UK version. The image of cyclists would be immensely enhanced if we had a CM where the majority rode smoothly and steadily at a 'no sweat' pace, smiling and inviting the drivers to join them next time, with stewarding that pulled both the aggressive drivers and the cyclists who deliberately ride to obstruct and annoy. The whole object is surely to show how the bicycle delivers a civilised and efficient way to move though busy city traffic and can co-exist with other road users.

PS to this end a large ride should co-ordinate with Police and pedestrians at busy crossing points so that the pedestrians are invited to continue to cross the road and work the proven system where each of these highly agile road users communicate their intended moves to in the same way that couples dancing manage to fill the floor with movement but rarely tangle with each other or those dancing around them. It we wanted a demonstration of how cyclists can ride through pedestrianised streets this would seal the case. Naturally this requires both to remove ipods and actually pay some attention to the people moving around next to them.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [560 posts]
28th February 2011 - 8:19


I'm not sure I would give much credence as yet to the talk about a sick passenger - yes I saw that too in comments on YouTube, but I didn't see it in any of the media reports of the incident, including the latest report I could find which was a couple of hours old. Nor is there any mention of anyone else being in the car by any of the witnesses.

Plus from the comments I've read by those taking part in the Porto Alegre Critical Mass the point of the ride was not to block traffic, it was to integrate cycling in to the city's traffic by making drivers aware that cyclists are their and need to be respected - the blogger linked to in the piece makes the point that if they need the police and local transportation officials to help them do that then the point would be lost before they had even started. Obviously there are different approaches to CM rides in different parts of the world - this one would appear not to be about stopping traffic but about becoming traffic.

Look at the video's AV - these riders were riding smoothly and steadily and in a friendly non-confrontational manner.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
28th February 2011 - 10:14


Well said @ A V Lowe. Unfortunately many cyclists use these CM meets to make a point of being obstructive to motorists in an attempt at getting their point across, not to 'integrate cycling in to the city's traffic by making drivers aware that cyclists are there and need to be respected'.

posted by gazedo82 [31 posts]
28th February 2011 - 10:53


the point here though gazedo82 is that in Porto Alegre they were

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
28th February 2011 - 11:08


Such a disregard for a humans life Sad(with an ill person or not)

Simply no excuse can be given for mowing people down in a car like that..!

xcstu's picture

posted by xcstu [109 posts]
28th February 2011 - 13:07


A V Lowe,

I don't agree that the purpose of the CM is to block the traffic. Every day when I cycle in London, my path is blocked by queues of taxis, buses, lorries and cars. And that happens 24/7. Who can I complain to about that?

I also see traffic violations daily. Vehicles come far too close to bikes, they break the speed limit, do u-turns where they're not supposed to and jump red lights at pedestrian crossings or sometimes even junctions. Yet we only ever hear about how cyclists are supposed to be the only people who do this.

CM only happens once a month *on a Friday evening*. I can't believe that as many people are in a rush as you say they are. Also, you're not accurate in what you say about drivers being antagonized. I would say that over 90% of the motorists actually display good humour towards the cyclists.

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
28th February 2011 - 13:19


Whether the driver of the VW golf intended to kill the cyclists, or whether he had a sick passenger or not, both are irrelevant. Every driver knows he is in control of a potentially lethal weapon when he sits behind the wheel of a car. Also, whether the cyclists had any motive (such as obstructing traffic) is also irrelevant. The guy driving the offending car is a monster and should receive the maximum sentence for attempted manslaughter and be banned from driving for the rest of his life. No excuses, no debate. He has lost the right to be called a human being. Angie Brooks

posted by angiebrooks54 [1 posts]
28th February 2011 - 13:48


What a shocking video! I am sure if it was a genuine emergency,everyone would have allowed the driver through. I also observed there were side streets, so the car driver could have taken a detour. Prob get a suspended sentence for that in the UK! Have to agree with A.V.Lowe.
Having driven most types of vehicle on our roads,I feel we need to be aware of each type of drivers/riders situations while intergrating with other traffic.


posted by peasantpigfarmer [47 posts]
28th February 2011 - 13:51


A V Lowe

Having watched Londons Critical Mass go past a few times (I've not been on one yet and are more often out drinking in central Lodon instead) it does flow, it's just a lot bigger. It still takes only 2-3 mins to pass.
But then after CM has passed the traffic is just as slow, but thats because it central London and full of Taxis, buses and cars.
The main people who moan about it are the Taxi drivers, but they are happy to have a protest where they block Aldwych by being stationary for an hour ( which is far more disruption.

posted by thereverent [354 posts]
28th February 2011 - 13:53


ppf. I have just watched a couple of worrying videos of a cyclist speeding through slow moving traffic. (One had a lovely piece of relaxing music,it made the ride seem very graceful! does anyone know what the piece was? I would like to know!)


posted by peasantpigfarmer [47 posts]
28th February 2011 - 14:02


I've been out of London for a while but used to enjoy critical mass when i was here.
Now i'm back i understand the comments about CM being often highly antagonistic towards drivers but that doesn't mean you have to be.
Rather than stop attending surely its more reason to actually come, take the lead, take a leisurely ride through town, take everyone on a different route and get your point across.
CM is not (or at least it shouldn't be ) a led event, therefore the mass just follows whoever is in front..
when asked by any other road user 'what is this', just give the answer you feel comfortable with..
So, see you at the end of March i hope..

posted by Navindh [2 posts]
28th February 2011 - 14:29


ps the Golf driver should be jailed for a long time. no excuses acceptable - can you think of one?

posted by Navindh [2 posts]
28th February 2011 - 14:32


It's only by the grace of God that the driver of that car is not now a murderer.

By deliberately speeding up and ramming the cyclists they can be under no illusions that their actions would have jepordised the safety and seriously endagered the lives of those in their path. Only someone with a diminished mental capacity can be excused for not realising the full potential of their actions in this scenario. Seriously ill passenger or not, there is no justification for risking the lives of many to save one. This was not an accident but a premeditated and disgraceful act comitted by one (alleged) human being against others.

Taking all this into account, the driver should be subjected to a full and frank (and very public) investigation and should be punished accordingly. I personally hope they go to prison for a long time and have their liberty taken away, the way that they so disrespectfully did to those cyclists.

The Good Shepherd's picture

posted by The Good Shepherd [54 posts]
28th February 2011 - 16:28


that was a very hard video to watch, something similar happened to my uncle whilst riding with his club mates.
the driver over took the cyclists he then decided to turned left and went into all of them no one knows why he did this as the roads had no other traffic and visability was clear,my uncle got the full whack, its still going through the courts and this was 8 years ago, my uncle has had a lot of sugary done on his body, but his brain is a differnt matter, i hope they catch this golf driver and chuck the book at him, or place the driver and the cyclists in a room and close the door then lets see how clever he is without his car.

posted by mandy [94 posts]
28th February 2011 - 18:36


Well, that's put Critical Mass on the map, hasn't it?

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
1st March 2011 - 9:53