Car plows through Oakland bike party, police investigating hit-and-run

Shocking cell phone video shows the driver of a car roll right through an Oakland bike party, nearly hitting multiple cyclists. Witnesses say the driver made no effort to stop or slow down.

This happened Friday night on Alcatraz Avenue near Shattuck. The group of bicyclists were taking part in the "East Bay Bike Party."

"I was shocked and enraged, frankly," said Ben Gerhardstein, who was taking part in the event. Gerhardstein is also with the advocacy group "Walk Bike Berkeley." He said at least one person was injured and there were many close calls.

"I witnessed this person driving way too fast past a large group of people enjoying the evening," said Gerhardstein. "I pretty much knew there was no way there could not be some bad encounter."

The bike party is a monthly community-based event and celebration for people who love riding bikes. Some participants deck out their bikes in bright lights and play music. The group then rides together on a planned route.

"It’s a really empowering event. It’s one that people feel safe in. So to have it disrupted in this way is troubling. It took the joy away from me on that evening," said Gerhardstein.

"I was angry," said Oakland City Councilmember Dan Kalb after viewing the video. He said the driver should be held accountable for what he called, "dangerous behavior."

The bicyclists were spread out in both lanes of traffic but Kalb said in this case, it does not matter.  "If you can see a cyclist in front of you or if you can see pedestrians crossing the street - even if they’re jay walking - the motorist has a responsibility to yield the right of way for safety purposes."

Kalb said the city has made improvements to reduce collisions and to make the streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. This includes adding more bike lanes, and slowing traffic. But he said there’s more to do when it comes to changing attitudes.

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"Some drivers, not most, but some drivers still have this ridiculous, antiquated, arrogant mentality that if they are driving a car they are more important than a pedestrian or a bicyclist," said Kalb.

When reached for comment, Officer Darryl Rodgers with the Oakland Police Department called the actions of the driver "disturbing" but said no report was ever filed. In an email, he wrote, "The Oakland Police Department (OPD) Communications Division received multiple calls from citizens on the evening of Friday, September 9, 2022, advising of several dozen bicyclists in the area near Alcatraz Avenue and Telegraph Avenue creating a hazard causing vehicular traffic. There were no reports of a vehicle collision with any bicyclists."

In an update on Monday, an OPD spokesperson said police were investigating a hit-and-run collision from Sept. 9 just after 8:45 p.m. at this location and that arriving officers identified two victims. OPD said a report was filed, but is still being processed.