Mike Vandeman arrested: Assault with deadly weapon


Mike Vandeman, a San Francisco Bay Area trail advocate notorious for his strong opposition to any mountain bike trail access, was arrested yesterday and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he attacked a pair of mountain bikers with a handsaw.

Mike Vandeman mug shot

According to UC police, a pair of mountain bikers were cycling on a fire road in the hills above the UC Berkeley campus. A hiker — Mike Vandeman — struck one of the cyclists with a saw, cutting him across the chest. Other East Bay mountain bikers have reported other similar attacks on them.

UC Berkeley police are asking the public for their help in investigating this and similar assaults on mountain bikers. University of California Police Department Criminal Investigation Bureau at (510) 642-0472 from 8AM-5PM, or (510) 642-6760 all other times.

Vandeman gained notoriety in the 90s with voluminous Usenet postings to rec.bicycles about mountain bikers as addicted, narcissistic, violently insane liars who are (get this!) bad role models for children. Vandeman continues to oppose bike access at Bay Area trail planning meetings.

Some people are planning a cheering party at the courthouse during Vandeman’s arraignment this afterrnoon in Oakland, though the more temperate are reminding the others that “no outbursts, cheering or disruption” are permitted in a court.

(Side note: I’m not certain, but I think UC Berkeley fire roads are off limits to bikes.)

H/T to Jym Dyer. Mug shot of Michael Vandeman provided by UCPD.

* Mike Vandeman’s web page, with links to his numerous anti-biking articles.
* The Mike Vandeman FAQ.


  1. Everyone knew that Mike was mentally ill, but he must have deteriorated badly in recent years.

  2. Wow. I ran into this guy back in the mid-nineties on usenet myself. Then he flamed a mountain biking post that I did on Bike World News.

    I hope that justice gets this guy the mental help that he so desperately needs.

  3. This is crazy I remember this guy from way back in the alt.mountainbike days. Always thought the guy was off his rocker but didn't think he had it in him to do something like this!!

  4. This guy's obviously a bit off, but mountain biker's are often REALLY unsafe and inconsiderate on shared trails. Also, before all you bike advocates get all upset, please understand that cycling is my main form of transportation, I commute 20 miles to work round trip.

  5. That's kind of the ironic part — Mike is a utility cyclist who hates cars, he's been active with the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, and I think we might have some friends in common. I actually sort of agree with him on some points, but he put a really sour taste in my mouth in the 90s with his incessant blathering and name calling.

  6. …sounds like an unfortunate human being…seems as if mr vandeman needs involve himself w/ the mental health advocates…

    …& not to imply anything but what exactly was this sad character doing w/ a handsaw up in the hills…especially w/ his reputation…

  7. I knew Mike way back when. He was a member of the Sierra Club's Transportation Committee (SF Bay Chapter). First met him in 89 and thought he was an irritating but harmless nut.

    I always remember his statement that “It is evil to own a car and drive to work and such. But it is OK to rent a car occasionally to visit the wilderness.”

    It is people like Mike who give environmentalists the Nut Job image!

    But JEEZ, I had no idea he had launched such a wild campaign against mountain bikers. Wild! The guy seems to be seriously demented. I am glad he got stopped before he did serious harm.

  8. To be fair, there are now allegations that MV was doing trail work and the mountain bikers exaggerated the incident to get him in trouble.

  9. To be fair to the victims, the police report says that Vandeman confessed to the assault.

  10. Mountain bikers hate Mike Vandeman because he is effective. The worst they can say about him is that they hate what he writes. The bottom line is that those who oppose mountain biking in sensitive areas cost the mountain bike industry a lot of money. Gary Fisher told me that himself. I'm sure the court process will show that Mike is innocent of any crime. Intimidation will never stifle free speech, as much as the mountain bikers try.

  11. Why is this editorial comment buried in the public comment section? Why isn't there a follow up article with the same prominence as the first one?

  12. Mostly because I've lost interest. I focus mostly on road issues; mountain biking is very ancillary. That, and Mike really got on my bad side in the 90s so I don't owe him any favors.

  13. …so, terri…you're doing a lotta jumping around protecting the reputation of someone who reputedly attacked a trail user w/ a handsaw…if there are facts, & i mean facts, not more supposition, that you know of, then share them, please…

    …you have the power of the internet @ your disposal…”link” us to the facts & let us make up our own minds…

  14. Most mountain bikers don't care what the facts are; they just want Mike silenced by any means.

  15. Well, the fact is that he was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. Is that the fact you are challenging here?

  16. Terri is Terri Avillar, a personal friend of Mike Vandeman's. Note that Terri is a long-time equestrian, and from some reports, worked in the forest industry for 20 years.

  17. As a witness to the incident I'd like to share some facts. We were walking on a trail where bikes are not allowed. We all hand gardening tools in our hands because we were heading to the top of the ridge to cut down invasive broom. Mike did not “attack” the cyclists. He asked them to stop. He held up his hand when he did so. That hand happened to have a saw in it. As the cyclist passed Mike he was grazed by the saw.

    The UC police officer that called me a month later to interview me failed to include anything in his official report of that conversation that indicated this was merely an accident.

    Are you aware that if a cyclist hits a hiker they will be charged with assault with a deadly weapon? Please consider this as you speed along trails where hikers are present.

    If UC police actually enforced the no bikes on the trail rule they can avoid a tragic accident that is just waiting to happen.

  18. Three more charges added, bail increased from $12,500 to $25k.

    Credible sources indicate that a large woman in a black pant suit was confronting people in the courtroom and lying to the bailiffs about people using cameras in court.

    This obese woman gave her name as “Terri.”

    Terri Avillar, did you really go to court to support Mike the wacko?

  19. Janet…the charges would be the same if he held up his hand and it just happened to have a knife in it. A knife, saw, or axe can be used an an offensive weapon. Had he acted similarly in the presence of a police officer, it's likely that the officer would have shot him.

    I'm not buying the 'it was only an accident' bit. Vandeman chose to confront someone with an edged weapon in his hand. It was an aggressive act. Sure, he may have intended only to scare the cyclist, but when he cut the skin, it became an assault.

  20. People like mike get themselves in prominent positions so they can control others. It is a power game. Mountain bikes do not tear up the landscape any more than hikers or mule trains. If you are only trying to keep the volume of use down to protect the land then an equal amount of users from both sides should be allowed to use the land and close certain areas down for recovery and open others. I have had a member of the sierra club point a pistol at me before on unrestricted land. It has been a few years I was 27 then and am now 52. Mike is a psychopath and as most of them are a good public speaker. In other words a silver tongued devil. If you want to see the real mike just wait and watch if he can't get his way.

  21. Yep. The man's a nut job. He may or may not actually be dangerous, but he's disconnected with reality. Environmental extremists only make all environmentalists look bad.

  22. I thought it was illegal to have tools on trails? Was he part of a scheduled trail maintenance or was he building illegal hiking trails?

  23. That’s way over reacting. We have murderers, rapists, child molesters, and others who richly deserve long prison terms. MV is primarily a nuisance and an asshole, not a violent repeat offender. Sure, he has to pay some penalty for his offense, but not his entire life.

  24. Some areas should be kept free of people and mtn bikes. If that’s a radical thought then Thoreau and Emerson were radical. 
    “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” – 2. Where I Lived and What I Lived For, Walden, Henry David Thoreau

  25. No, Terri, mountain bikers don’t hate Mr. Vandeman. They just know he’s a kook that likes to get attention. As shown at his trial, the guy really needs some help.

  26. They just don’t want him slashing at guys with saws. It isn’t free speech to slash somebody.

  27. It’s absurd that mountain bikers who know nothing of the incident would pretend to know what happened. Janet Powelson was actually there! The mountain biker caused the accident by failing to stop (violating the traffic laws) and trying to squeeze between us at high speed. Of course, he didn’t want to stop because he didn’t want to be told that bikes aren’t allowed there. It’s also interesting that the police lied, too. It seems that they either are mountain bikers themselves, or they get paid in proportion to their number of arrests.

  28. Photographer/mountain biker Michael Mejia was witnessed by a room full of people photographing me in the courtroom, which is against the law. The judge banned him from publishing the photo. Mejia, of course, mountain biker that he is, lied about it, and claimed not to have done it. Are there any mountain bikers who are NOT criminals?????

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.