General Crime

* Michael Vandeman charged with attacking bicyclists with a handsaw in the hills above the University of California at Berkeley campus

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A man suspected of attacking bicyclists with a handsaw in the hills above the University of California at Berkeley campus pleaded not guilty to assault and vandalism charges in Alameda County Superior Court today. Michael Vandeman, 67, who has a website dedicated to environmental activism with an anti-bicyclist bent, was arrested Friday in connection with an attack about six weeks ago on the Strawberry Canyon Fire Trail near campus, UC Berkeley police Lt. Alex Yao said.Yao said Vandeman approached two male bicyclists who were riding west on the trail and cut one of the victims across the chest with a handsaw. The victim suffered minor injuries. The victims asked why he had attacked them, and Vandeman allegedly told them they should not be riding their bicycles on the trail, police said.The victims eventually identified Vandeman from a photograph, and he was arrested Friday after admitting to holding a saw in front of bicyclists and touching one of them with it, according to Yao.Additional charges may be sought against Vandeman for similar incidents on the trail, including one reported on May 6.Yao said Vandeman is not currently affiliated with the university.He appeared in court with his attorney this morning and pleaded not guilty to felony assault and misdemeanor vandalism charges, according to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.District attorney’s office spokeswoman Teresa Drenick said the assault charge is related to an April 18 incident and the vandalism charge stems from an incident on June 19, 2009. Vandeman’s bail has been set at $12,500.On Vandeman’s website,, he describes himself as a computer programmer who got his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from UC Berkeley and later received a Ph.D. in psychology from University of California at Los Angeles.The website includes letters dating as far back as the 1990s that Vandeman claims he sent to various elected officials, local environmental groups and media outlets in the East Bay that called for the restriction of bikes to paved roads.One letter, sent to the East Bay Regional Parks District in 2002, complains that it is “very hazardous and unpleasant…to suddenly try to share narrow paths with large, fast-moving pieces of machinery.”UC Berkeley police are still seeking information about other possible incidents involving Vandeman.

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  • What is amazing is that no one realized his earlier acts would escalate. He has said he was trying to “stop” the riders. Who tries to flag someone down by waving a blade at them?

    I can acknowledge the good intentions of some environmentalists even those I disagree with. But when someone thinks their beliefs justify endangering another it is different!

    If Mr. Vanderman had an issue with riders riding where they shouldn’t he should have reported the incident to the police not tried to stop someone with a saw. As to Terri’s post that he has been threatened by bikers before, is that because he was harrassing them?

    Frankly after what happened in Berkely he’s lucky he didn’t get beat up by the rider.

    If someone in NJ ever tried to flag me down by wacking me with a saw he’d be liable to end up with a broken arm.

  • This story is very suspect. Mike is one of the most gentle humans on the planet. It is true, however, that he has been threatened for years by mountain bikers, including getting death threats. I don’t know if he was carrying a saw or why but I will guarantee you that saws are routinely carried by mountain bikers to build illegal trails all around the SF Bay Area.

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