OPINION Senior and Disability Action recently learned of the outcome of the case of the elder who was killed in a collision with a bicyclist in the city's Castro District. The victim, 71 year old Sutchi Hui, was walking across the intersection of Castro and Market Streets with his wife when he was struck by 34 year old Chris Bucchere, a self-described "entrepreneur, software developer, founder and CEO of Social Collective Inc."
Our organization has been involved in the issue of pedestrian safety, advocating for improvements on the city streets, corridors and areas that pose safety risks for seniors, people with disabilities and the public in general. The tragic incident that took Mr. Hui's life emphasizes the need for better pedestrian safety and the need to hold bicyclists accountable for their actions.
Seniors have related stories of being run over or in near misses with bicycles speeding through crosswalks or sidewalks. One member of SDA recalls an incident at Critical Mass where a senior was driving a car with 2 kids in the backseat. The biker repeatedly kicked the elder's car, verbally berating him and frightening the children.
Senior and Disability Action was dismayed by the breezy attitude of the cyclist, who, after the collision that claimed Mr. Hui's life, lamented the loss of his bike helmet in a blog:
"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...may she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider can live and ride one. Can I get an amen? Amen"
Really? The cyclist was travelling in excess of 35 miles an hour. Witnesses saw him go through three red lights. It was announced that Mr. Bucchere's punishment will be 3 years probation and 1000 hours of community service. This was the second fatality involving a cyclist in a year. The cyclist in the other fatality was sentenced to 500 hours of community service—at the Bike Coalition. Where will Mr. Bucchere do his community service? Will he have to look an elder in the face, or come into contact with a community of color, or a community of elders? Or will he use his race and class privilege to sacrifice somehow to a community that has lost much in the way of housing and services—from communities that have subsidized the lives of folks such as himself?
We all must adhere to the rules of the road; the rules apply to both motorists as well as cyclists. We recognize that there are cyclists that follow the rules of the road. But this case was egregious, not only in the loss of life, but in the arrogance of the cyclist, who was using an app that gauged his speed and overall performance on the road, offering a prize as an incentive. The metaphors are striking—plowing through an area as if one has the God-given right and too bad if you happen to be in my way. Mr. Bucchere's actions in the aftermath is evincive of the race and class privilege that has permeated the city, where some lives are evidently worth more than others.
Can we get an amen?
Editor's Note: On Aug. 15, Bucchere was formally sentenced to 1000 hours of community service and three years probation.