On Friday 25 February 2011 a crazed motorist, later named as 47 year old Ricardo Neis, drove his black VW Golf straight into a crowd of around 150 cyclists participating in a peaceful critical mass ride in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre. Fortunately nobody was killed or seriously injured.
Watch what happened here:
Following his arrest two days later and initial detention at a psychiatric institution, a judge ruled that Neis should be transferred to the state prison pending his trial for attempted murder and two related charges.
In the meantime our local partners are maintaining pressure on the local authority to do more to protect cyclists, both on critical mass rides and as they go about their day to day activities.
Protest ride in Porto Alegre
2,000 people turned out on the streets of Porto Alegre on 29 February to protest against the slow police response to the attack, and to demand safer conditions for cyclists. Read more and watch the videos (in Portuguese) here.
A national petition has been set up to demand the right to peaceful protest and calls for the police to uphold existing laws protecting pedestrians and cyclists.
WCN statement on the Porto Alegre attack and the right to cycle in safety
On Friday, 25 February, Porto Alegre resident Richard Neis drove his car directly through a group of people on bicycles. Videos of the event, uploaded to the internet and broadcast via social media and news channels worldwide, highlight the horror that this senseless act caused to Porto Alegre’s citizens.
This was an appalling event, a transgression of human dignity and road safety. Such acts of violence must be punished severely. Laws must be upheld in order to discourage similar behaviour with intent to harm. Traffic laws in Brazil explicitly affirm that drivers should protect and care for pedestrians and cyclists, that cyclists have priority over drivers on roadways, and that the minimum distance to overtake a cyclist is 1.5m. We applaud Brazil's policy-makers for developing these important laws that protect Brazil's vulnerable road users. Laws such as these allow everyone the right to use public roadways without fear of intimidation or attack. We call on enforcement agencies, judicial authorities and local leaders to apply the law and steer this case to a just conclusion. The world is watching and waiting for justice.
Please help to ensure that justice is done in Porto Alegre, thereby supporting the campaigns of local and national groups in Brazil, by contacting: Mayor José Fortunati:
Tel: +55 (51) 3289-3600. E-mail:
Municipal Secretaries of Transporte,
Secretário Municipal de Obras e Viação
Tel: +55 (51) 3289-8831 / 3289-8832. E-mail:
Critical Mass is a worldwide event held in hundreds of cities to
celebrate bicycling as an environmentally sound, clean, and above all fun form of transportation. From its beginnings in San Francisco in 1992, the idea of a spontaneous bicycle ride - an "organized coincidence" - spread to all corners of the world. The basic message of the rides is "We're not blocking traffic. We are traffic."