Scroll down for updates, including an interview with the driver.
A driver struck three riders and drove several blocks up Pike with one of them on his car hood Thursday evening, according to reports from the .83 forum and CHS. The riders, some of whom were dressed in festive attire, were out to sing Christmas carols together around the city when the incident happened around 8 p.m. Luckily, no one was serious injured, though some of the bikes did not fare as well. The driver sped from the scene, but later went to the East Precinct to speak with police.
From what I have been able to piece together from various accounts of what happened, the group had just started their ride from Westlake Center and were riding up Pike in the right lane. At least one member of the group was riding in the lane to the left of the group as a driver pulled up behind them and started showing signs of being aggressive. Some members of the group were yelling at the rider in the left lane to join the rest of the group but either he ignored them or was in the process of moving over when the driver allegedly tried driving into the group of singing riders.
As the group and the driver approached a red light, the driver allegedly ran over one person’s wheel, bending it like a taco. The driver and riders then had a verbal altercation, and the driver said, “You guys are crazy,” according to an account on the .83 forum. The diver then ran over the foot of one of the riders. The rider, angry at having his foot run over, kicked the driver’s car door. At some point, riders
opened the passenger door started yelling at the driver.
Meanwhile, another rider stopped in from of the driver’s vehicle with his bike in front of him and motioned for the driver to pull over. Instead, the driver sped forward towards him. He tried to throw his bike out of the way and ended up on the hood of the car. The bike did not make it all the way out of the way, and the vehicle ran over the seat, crushing it.
The vehicle then sped up Pike at speeds as high as 30 mph, swerving around to shake the rider off the hood, according to witnesses. Somehow, the rider held on until they reached a red light, and he was able to get off safely. The driver then sped away.
Capitol Hill Seattle reports that the driver of the 1993 Thunderbird pulled up to SPD’s East Precinct a few minutes later to give his side of the story. We will update when/if we find out what that side of the story might be.
UPDATE: CHS has confirmed that there have been no arrests, and police are investigating the incident as an automobile “accident.” From CHS:
Seattle Police this morning confirm that the driver in the incident was not arrested and that the situation is currently being investigated as an automobile accident. Nobody else was taken into custody related to the Thursday night fracas. We reported that the driver had continued to the East Precinct headquarters at 12th and Pine after the incident. The car in the collision is registered to an east Capitol Hill address.
UPDATE #2: I spoke with the driver of the incident — Alexander Conley III, longtime owner of Conley Hat Manufacturing in Madrona.
Conley said he was confused by the group and did not understand why they got so angry with him.
“All I was trying to do was come home,” said Conley. “They had the whole street blocked, and they wanted to keep it blocked. When I tried to go to the left to go around them, they swarmed towards me.” He said he honked at them so the group would clear space for him to get through, but then they stopped in front of him and one of their fenders touched his bumper.
Then “they were threatening, they were jumping on my car,” he said. He said he eventually got through with one person still hanging onto the hood. “Someone was on the hood while I was going up pike … I didn’t want him to fall off and hurt himself, I just wanted him to get off.” He said the person on the hood got off around Boren.
“I was just going to take him up to the police station with me.” The station is at Pine and 12th. Conley drove straight to the station to report the incident.
Conley said he remains confused about why the incident even happened. “I did nothing to these guys to provoke them,” he said. “What was going on? Why were they doing that? Why were they trying to take the whole street?” He said he thought they were a negative group of cyclists out to prove something to motorists.
“Why were they so angry with me? I didn’t do anything to them,” he said.
Conley has been making hats in Madrona for about 25 years, and making hats for most his 75 years. Here’s a video about his hat making from YouTube: