By Jeremy Raff and Adam Grossberg
It was a bike commuter’s dream: At rush hour, 14 motorcycle cops stopped traffic at major intersections in the Mission, SoMa and up Market Street. Uninterrupted, dozens of cyclists rode in silence.
The Ride of Silence, San Francisco’s fifth, has spread across the world since it began in Texas in 2003. In San Francisco, a total of 25 pedestrians and bicyclists were hit and killed by drivers in 2013, according to the SFMTA, the highest number since 2007.
On Wednesday, riders memorialized six cyclists and a wheelchair-bound pedestrian recently killed by cars and trucks. At the site of each fatality, they taped up a picture, a description of the collision and flowers:
Harold Swaggard, 55, Folsom and 13th
Amelie Le Moullac, 24, Folsom and Sixth
Diana Sullivan, 48, King and Third
Bryan Goodwin, 31, Market and Octavia
Renata Gonzales, 23, Market and Octavia
Dylan Mitchell, 21, 16th and South Van Ness
Cheng Jin Lai, 78, Bryant and 11th
The ride was more somber memorial than political protest, but it comes in the wake of District Attorney George Gascón’s refusal to prosecute the driver who killed Amelie Le Moullac, even though investigators said the driver was to blame.
Devon Warner, an organizer of the ride, didn’t buy her first car until she was 49, fearing accidents. Soon after, she “scared the pants off some man and his child in the crosswalk,” on Clement Street. “They totally were in the right and I was in the wrong,” she said. She had been Christmas shopping and was distracted. Spooked, she canceled with the friend she was rushing to meet.
For Warner, the Ride of Silence says, “No matter what we’re doing, how busy we are, how much of a hurry we’re in, none of it is worth frightening and hurting other humans.”
Addressing the crowd before the ride, Karen Haley Allen stood before a slideshow of the victims, including Derek Allen, her only son, who was killed at Geary and Clement streets in 2010. “His first word was ‘outside,’ ” she said. The night of his death, he was picking up Chinese food. Allen shared a modified haiku:
Good Luck Dim Sum
Lead my son to crash with MUNI
Good night Derek
Speakers featured in above video, in order: Devon Warner, Mark P. Sullivan, and Marc Aure.