Reaction to video of Porto Alegre Critical Mass tragedy as disturbing as the crime itself

The Province has turned off the comments section this morning on its coverage of the weekend’s horrifying incident at Critical Mass in Porto Alegre, Brazil, which saw a car accelerate directly through a meandering crowd of cyclists.

It was just as well. Most of the comments I saw last night, before the shutdown, all sheltering under anonymity, were despicable. Some people apparently are elated at the sight and sound of cars hitting cyclists.

Incredibly, no one was killed as the driver plowed down the street with cyclists bouncing off his windshield, but 20 were injured, two seriously.

I saw Vancouver’s Critical Mass ride by Fir and Fourth on Friday, a cheery, chilly crowd with the mandatory police bicycle escort, doing no harm to anyone at all. They were much less numerous, for example, than the nostalgic Olympic flash mob that shut down Granville Street the next day.

But in the current fevered debate on the future of our cities, the idea that cycling might be a legitimate transportation choice seems to strike fear in the hearts of some, so much fear that they cheer on mindless violence. Maybe The Province should turn the comments back on, but insist that people sign their names. Then a real debate could begin.