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Cyclist Arrested In Critical Mass Road Rage Incident

Photo: Critical Mass/Facebook
By Geri Koeppel - Published on September 06, 2015.

SFPD made an arrest last night (Saturday, Sept. 5th) near McCovey Cove in the road rage/vandalism incident involving bicyclists at the Critical Mass cycling event near Marina Boulevard and Lyon Street on Aug. 28th.

A video taken during the event—which got media coverage both nationally and internationally and went viral online—appears to show cyclists blocking the path of a dark blue Zipcar, after which one hits the car with a U-lock several times, causing about $2,000 worth of damage.

SFPD sent out a press release tonight announcing that officers assigned to Bayview Station were on bicycle patrolling last night's Billy Joel concert at AT&T Park near Third Street and Terry A. Francois Boulevard, and recognized the man and his bicycle from the incident.

Ian Hespelt, 39, of San Francisco, was arrested and booked at Southern Station for the following felony charges: 236 PC – false imprisonment, 245(a)(1) PC – assault with a deadly weapon, 594(b)(1) PC – vandalism, and 23110(b) CVC – maliciously and willfully throwing a substance at a vehicle. Hespelt was also booked on a misdemeanor charge of 404.6 PC for inciting a riot.

The release also states:

Due to pending identification matters, a booking photo will not be released at this time. Although an arrest has been made, anyone with additional information or video is encouraged to contact the SFPD Anonymous Tip Line at (415) 575-4444 or Text A Tip to TIP411 and include “SFPD” at the beginning of the message.

However, a photo of the cyclist was posted on Imgur showing a man with a large, curled handlebar mustache. A man closely resembling that photo is identified as Ian Hespelt in the May-June 2015 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine, a publication of the American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, which was posted on the group's website. An article identifies him as "a Macy’s employee in San Francisco and a shop steward for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) who has attended 10 protests at Staples stores."

The road rage/vandalism incident and video prompted a statement from District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell condemning the cyclist's actions. It also sparked a dialogue among Critical Mass riders on its Facebook page and beyond, many of whom were critical of the cyclist's actions after seeing the video.

Critical Mass rides began in San Francisco in 1992 and are now held in more than 300 cities internationally, according to the FAQ page of its website. It involves a large number of cyclists who ride together through the city starting at 5:30pm on the final Friday of each month at Justin Herman Plaza at the foot of Market Street and the Embarcadero. One of the FAQs asks, "Is Critical Mass anti-motorist?" The answer is: "That would be stupid, since all Critical Mass participants either drive cars at least occasionally or have friends and family who drive out of necessity in our car-oriented society."

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