hmm. how bout this one then…
Cops: Angry bicyclists gang up on wrong guy
Posted by Maxine Bernstein, The Oregonian July 10, 2008 13:11PM
Categories: Breaking News, Cycling, Editors’ Picks, Portland
The cultural clash between Portland bicyclists and motorists took a surreal turn Sunday night when a motorist involved in a confrontation with a cyclist turned out to be a longtime advocate for cycling.
Colin Yates, 47, was driving with his wife and two teenagers in his family’s green Subaru Legacy when he saw a bicyclist pass him on the left and blow through a stoplight on Southeast 20th Avenue at Belmont Street. Yates continued driving north on 20th Avenue, through another intersection, until he caught up with the bicyclist.
Yates honked his horn, leaned out his window, and chided the bicyclist for making other cyclists look bad. Yates, a self-described bike advocate for more than 30 years, told the bicyclist that he was a responsible bike rider who gets upset when he sees fellow riders disobeying traffic signals.
Traffic continued to flow, and the cyclist and Yates both continued north on Southeast 20th, until they were stopped at a red light at Stark Street.
The bicyclist rode up to the driver’s window. Yates described the man to police as “irritated and aggravated.” The cyclist was cursing at Yates and yelled at him to get out of the car. “Let’s go! You want to go?” the bicyclist shouted, challenging Yates to a fight.
By now, the bicyclist, Steven McAtee, 31, was off his wheels. Yates said McAtee picked up his bike and wielded it like a weapon, smashing it against the Subaru’s hood and windshield.
Yates stepped from his car and told McAtee to back off.
McAtee turned on Yates. He lifted his bike above his shoulders and struck Yates with it, Yates said. Yates tried to use his hands to block the blows and then ducked back into his car and attempted to leave. But McAtee got in front of the Subaru and repeatedly struck the vehicle with his bike, Yates said.
Yates stepped from his car again and was struck five to seven more times with McAtee’s bicycle, police reports say.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a passer-by knocked McAtee to the ground with one punch.
And, as fast as McAtee hit the ground, nearly a dozen people – many bicyclists who were riding by and noticed the commotion – swarmed around Yates, shoving cell phone cameras about a foot from his face and accusing him of roughing up the bicyclist.
To make matters worse, a 9-1-1 call that came in at 10:10 p.m. was relayed to officers as: “Car hit bicycle, and people yelling.”
Officers found a confusing scene when they arrived. About 25 to 30 people were gathered, and police described the atmosphere as hostile towards the motorist. Some witnesses were afraid to speak up for Yates.
One witness on a bicycle told police he didn’t want to make a statement at the scene because of the “thugs and bad folks” here, according to the police report. He later talked to police by phone and gave an account that backed up Yates’ story.
It turns out, police say bicyclist McAtee was both drunk and in the wrong. And he’s a city employee. He works for Portland’s transportation department as a building plan examiner.
McAtee was charged with third-degree assault, criminal mischief, driving under the influence of intoxicants and disorderly conduct. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Police said Yates, who set out the next day on a move to Colorado, had an imprint of a bike chain on his left forearm and grease stains on his shoulder.
News of Sunday night’s confrontation circulated quickly among officers and reached Officer Robert Pickett, the bureau’s unofficial liaison between police and Portland’s biking community.
“It’s almost kind of quintessentially a Portland thing,” Pickett said, after reading the police reports.
Pickett, who said he works to bridge the gap between motorists and cyclists, called the alleged assault and subsequent witness reaction unfortunate. “It’s too bad there’s an ‘us vs. them’ dynamic,” Pickett said.
He asked that witnesses who approach such a scene call police but not rush to get involved.
“We ask them to be a good witness and not jump to conclusions.”