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Motorist Draws Gun On Cyclists At Critical Mass Ride On Friday

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 3, 2017 9:44PM

Critical Mass, 2009 / Flickr / Photo: Laurie Chipps

A motorist on Friday was disarmed by police after pulling a gun on cyclists who were riding in in Greektown for Critical Mass, a popular, monthly group bike ride that brings out dozens of participants.

The driver, Alexander Doty, 25, slowly approached an intersection in the 800 block of West Jackson Boulevard as cyclists from Critical Mass were riding through, Chicago Police Department spokesperson Michelle Tannehill told Chicagoist. Doty then got out of his vehicle, walked to the trunk, pulled out a handgun and approached the the front of the vehicle. Police were already on the scene, and Doty handed over the firearm, according to Tannehill.

Doty faces one felony count of aggravated unlawful use of a loaded weapon without firearm owners identification.

Police happened to be behind Doty's vehicle as it approached the intersection of Halsted and Jackson, according to post on The Chainlink—a cycling-community message board—by a person who said he witnessed the scene.

One Chainlink poster wrote that someone had also sat down on the vehicle's hood:

"It happened as I was at the front of the mass. My voice was weak due to all the yelling beforehand in trying to keep the mass together and asking the riders to let the cars pass. They just got out of control and sat on the guys hood. No bueno! That's when he put the car in park and went to the trunk of his auto to fetch the gun."

The Chainlink comment thread also paints a picture of a small subset of unwanted cyclists in the group ride behaving badly. "There were several bikers that were 'out of control.' They were a younger group," noted one post. "This is the most confrontational Critical Mass ride that I have ever been on!" wrote the same user.

A separate post on the message board also takes one rider to task for allegedly spitting on a pedestrian during the ride, which takes place on the last Friday of each month in Chicago. At the same time, others commented that they were present at the ride and saw some cyclists targeted by antagonistic pedestrians: "I'm not defending this guy's actions, nor do I even know him," noted a commenter. "But there was one guy in particular crossing North Ave around Sheffield that intentionally walked out into the Mass to try and start something with the riders."

However ill-behaved any cohort may have been, it goes without saying that pulling a firearm is a dangerous overreaction for all involved, directly or indirectly. At the same time, the cycling community was acutely aware that any confrontational behavior by some riders had the potential to tar even responsible cyclists, however unfairly. Critical Mass chided those culpable and pledged to arrange the ride in ways that would improve safety:

"If you are not willing to publicly defend your actions on the ride, you should not be participating in a public demonstration. We also need to work harder to structure the ride in a way that is safer for everyone. Swarming cars always leads to freak outs, and we are living in a new reality where more and more people are carrying weapons."

Stay safe out there and be smart.