Driver attacked by cyclists: 'I freaked out'

Driver attacked by cyclists: 'I freaked out' »Play Video
A May 2008 Critical Mass gathering at Westlake Center in Seattle (Photo courtesy "Rootology," Wikimedia Commons)
SEATTLE - The driver who was attacked by a mob of bicyclists during Friday's monthly Critical Mass demonstration says he was "really scared" and "panicked" during the violent confrontation.

But bicyclists who were there said the driver is an "out of control" menace who purposefully ran into bikes and people with his car because he was in a hurry to get somewhere.

The altercation took place Friday evening as up to 300 bicyclists were riding down a street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, blocking traffic on both lanes. It was part of a monthly rolling protest that asserts cyclists' rights to the road.

As the bicyclists rode by, the driver was trying to pull out of a parking spot in his Subaru station wagon near the intersection of Fifth Street and Aloha Avenue.

The exact sequence of events is unclear, but witnesses agree that the driver was blocked in by the large group of cyclists.

There was an angry exchange of words, and some bicyclists sat on the car and began banging on the vehicle.

"One guy shouted, 'Hey, we should flip the car,' and I was really scared," the driver told KOMO News in an exclusive interview.

He said someone started rocking his car and someone else spit on the hood.

"I just kind of panicked, and I was going to rev my engine, but it's a stick and I was panicking. I had it in first and I went forward and I knocked the first few bikes down," said the driver, named Mark.

But one of the bicyclists who was there has a different description of what happened.

Tom Braun said the cyclists just wanted the driver to wait until they got past. But he didn't want to wait, Braun says.

"The guy says something about being late for a reservation and just floors it into us," he said. The car hit Braun then rolled over him, dragging his leg across the road and injuring him.

"It was a clear example of road rage," Braun says. "My best guess is he didn't like all the cyclists going by."

The driver, who didn't want his full name revealed, says he stopped a half-block later and that's when his car was destroyed.

"They broke out the front window, the back window," he says. "They slashed all the tires and the whole passenger side has big fist sized dents all along it."

Mark was also struck in the back of the head with a bike lock, and his tires were slashed. He ended up in the hospital.

He says he never meant to hurt anyone.

"I overreacted and freaked out and got upset, but I was surrounded by a mob of people and I felt really threatened and I apologize if I hurt anyone," he says.

But Braun counters: "He was out of control."

Two bicyclists were arrested and police are looking for the suspect who struck the driver in the back of the head.