by Wale Aliyu
NBC New York
A mob of dozens of bicyclists roamed through the streets of Manhattan against traffic and attacked drivers who confronted them, witnesses say, and police say an officer was injured after being hit by a driver trying to chase down the unruly group.
Some of the cyclists were wearing masks as they zig-zagged through cars on Seventh Avenue in Chelsea on Saturday evening and clashed with drivers. Cell phone video shows the group rolling through the streets between cars.
Witnesses say they heard screaming and breaking glass as several drivers confronted the bicyclists near West 23rd Street around 4 p.m.
One of the drivers, Timothy Lanley, said the cyclists surrounded his car and then attacked when he rolled down his window to confront them.
“They mobbed the car. And then when I got out the car to tell them not to do what they was doing to the car, they attacked me,” he said.
Lanley said the cyclists punched him in the head and also smashed the back windshield of his car in two places.
At one point, a driver who had been assaulted by a bicyclist made a U-turn against the flow of traffic in an attempt to chase down the group. That’s when he or she hit an NYPD officer, injuring the officer’s leg and hand, law enforcement sources said. That person wasn’t expected to face charges because it appeared to be an accident, according to the sources.
“It was crazy,” Emily Stephen said of witnessing the chaotic scene in broad daylight.
“I just saw all the bikes going up Seventh Avenue and I saw them surrounding the car,” Stephen said.
An Uber driver, who didn’t want to be named, says the bicyclists also damaged his car as he was dropping off a passenger. He provided NBC 4 with dashcam video in which he says you can see the cyclists taunting him and surrounding his car. He says you can hear them scratching and kicking the vehicle too.
“It’s a brand new car. I don’t know how much that’s going to cost me now. It’s probably $1,000,” he said.
Officers were collecting surveillance video as they investigated, but no arrests had been made as of Saturday night. If police catch the bicyclists allegedly involved, they could face reckless endangerment and criminal mischief charges.
Witnesses say the group dispersed and headed north, where they shouted at walkers and heckled people as far north as Midtown.
Surveying his car’s smashed windows after the attack, Lanley said there should be a law prohibiting bicyclists from riding in such large groups through city streets.
“You shouldn’t have 18, 19 people riding together. Knowing what they’re doing. They’re taking up the road and making it hard for drivers to go where they’re going,” he said.