A Critical Mass demonstration held on the streets of Porto Alegre in south-eastern Brazil came to a horrific stop when a 47-year-old man drove his car into the middle of a group of some 150 cyclists. Disturbing video footage of the hit-and-run was posted on YouTube.
The driver, named in the Brazilian press as Ricardo Jose Neis, fled the scene. Police found the abandoned vehicle, a Volkswagen Golf, with its license plates removed. They say they haven't arrested Neis because they're waiting for him to turn himself in.
Porto Alegre’s police chief, Gilberto Montenegro, originally classed the case as an accident pending further investigation. Reports suggest the case has now been upgraded to multiple attempts of homicide. If the driver is found guilty with intent he could face charges of attempted murder.
Camilo Colling, a participating cyclist, told Terra Brasil that he spoke with the driver prior to the incident and asked him to be patient. The motorist apparently said: “Yes, but I’m in a hurry.” Around 40 cyclists were knocked off their bikes. Nine were transported to a nearby hospital for medical treatment. No one was killed.
Porto Alegre's Critical Mass demonstration takes place on the last Friday of every month to raise awareness of cycling. On this occasion, participants were celebrating the inauguration of the “City of Bicyclists”.