Pedestrian Deaths Bring Bicyclist Safety Issues to the Fore

Photo: Getty Images

San Francisco prosecutors are deciding whether to file charges against a cyclist who recently struck a pedestrian in a fatal collision in the Castro. This comes on top of last month’s guilty plea to misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter by a 23-year-old bicyclist who struck and killed a woman at Mission and Embarcadero in San Francisco last year.

Meanwhile, Sunday night in Oakland, a bicyclist was killed after being hit by an SUV.

Last week, the Bay Guardian wrote about the controversy surrounding an online account by a bicyclist involved in an accident in which the details matched those of the fatal Castro accident, and in which the writer’s tone is alternately cavalier and concerned. (“In closing, I want to dedicate this story to my late helmet,” he wrote.)

The post’s author was listed as Chris Bucchere, the same person who faces vehicular manslaughter charges in the Castro accident. The Chronicle reported on Friday that the D.A.’s office is “treating the post as having been written” by Bucchere, and a spokesman for the office called it “troubling.” Bucchere, through his attorney, said on Friday that he thinks he did not break any laws.

Here are extracts from that controversial post, which appeared on the Mission Cycling site, provided by the Guardian:

I wrecked on the way home today from the bi-weekly Headlands Raid today. Short story: I’m fine. The pedestrian I clobbered? Not so much,” the message began…

Around 8 am I was descending Divisidero Street southbound and about to cross Market Street. The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop. The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions. The intersection very long and the width of Castro Street at that point is very short, so, in a nutshell, blammo…

The quote/unquote ‘scene of the crime’ was that intersection right by the landmark Castro Theatre – it leads from a really busy MUNI station to that little plaza where The Naked Guy always hangs out. It was commuter hour and it was crowded as all getup. I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.

I don’t remember the next five minutes but when I came to, I was in a neck brace being loaded into an ambulance. I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn’t mine. Apparently I hit a 71-year old male pedestrian and he ended up in the ICU with pretty serious head injuries. I really hope he ends up OK.

They asked me a bunch of stupid easy questions that I couldn’t answer, so they kept me for a few hours for observation, gave me a tetanus shot and sent me on my way.

Anyway, other than a stiff neck, a sore jaw/TMJ, a few bruises and some raspberries, I’m totally fine. I got discharged from the hospital during the lunch hour. The guy I hit was not as fortunate. I really hope he makes it.

The cops took my bike. Hopefully they’ll give it back.

In closing, I want to dedicate this story to my late helmet. She died in heroic fashion today as my head slammed into the tarmac. Like the Secret Service would do for a president, she took some serious pavement today, cracking through-and-through in five places and getting completely mauled by the ragged asphalt. May she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider can live on and ride on. Can I get an amen?

Amen.

The moral of this little story is: WYFH

Last week, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition issued a statement in response to the Castro accident. From the release:

While we recognize that this case is still under investigation, we are deeply troubled by the just-released online account of the incident.

“As advocates working for safer streets, we condemn reckless behavior – whether on a bicycle or in a car,” says Shahum. “Those who put others in danger should be held accountable for their actions.”

While pedestrian fatalities caused by bicycle crashes are rare, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition reminds the growing number of people riding bicycles in San Francisco that we must follow the rules of the road.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition continues to work toward a culture of greater respect on our streets by actively encouraging safe behavior by all road users.

Also, last week, the issue of cyclists and their relationship to traffic laws was ironically highlighted in this YouTube video, which shows two SFPD officers on bikes rolling right through a stop sign on Haight Street. When the videographer tries to question them about it, they beat a hasty retreat…

In light of the recent accidents, KQED 88.5 FM’s Forum program took up the issue of bicycle safety today. Host Michael Krasny spoke with Bert Hill, chair of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, which considers bicycle transportation projects and policies; and Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian advocacy organization. Listen here or below…

There’s also a lively discussion about the issue on the Forum message board.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shroom-Duke/594061652 Shroom Duke

    This is a Transpertation Infrastructure Problem!

    This is also a problem with imagination. Listing to the comments on bicycle safety and licencing bicycles I was frustrated by the “stuck in the box” solutions offered. I would suggest that ALL our problems in America including the bicycle one could be easily solved by investing in infrastructure. From Bicycles driving on the same crowded streets as cars to the Healthcare Disaster, to unemployment and education, America’s infrastructure is old, it’s design is old, we can do much better.

    Build bicycle fareways, elevated bike and pedestrian walk ways, we are only limited by our imagination!
    Build NEW Innovative public transpertation infrastructure.
    Build Healthcare Infrastructure, from schools to hospitals and clinics and we will all benifit.
    Build Education Infrastructure and we will reap the rewards of an educated population.

    Americas infructure is being hijacked piece by piece by “Wall Street” under the guies of “Privatization” (corporatization) I do NOT want corporations to own America’s Infrastructure, especially after they’ve crashed the world economy again! Corporations are concerned only with profits not with democracy, equality, justice, humanity the environment or the future.

    The Privatization of Everything
    http://truth-out.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7135:the-privatization-of-everything

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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