Tragedies remind us to pay attention and share the roads

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Bicyclist Chris Bucchere struck and killed a pedestrian last year while speeding through this crowded intersection.

A pair of tragic news items involving bicyclists in San Francisco — one cyclist a victim, another a perpetrator — illustrates the need for all of us to slow down, pay attention, and safely and respectfully share the roadways of this crowded city.

The victim of yesterday’s fatal collision between a truck and bicyclist at Folsom and 6th Streets — in which the motorist turned right across the path of cyclist in a bike lane, but was inexplicably yet not surprisingly not cited by police — was today revealed to be 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old cyclist Chris Bucchere was today sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and three years probation after pleading guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter after last year trying to beat a red light at Castro and Market streets and fatally striking elderly pedestrian Sutchi Hui.

“Motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists must share the road in a responsible way because there are dire consequences when traffic laws are disregarded,” District Attorney George Gascon said today after Bucchere’s sentencing.

Both of these incidents were sad for all concerned, and they should remind us to be responsible and attentive travelers, a lesson that we could all use. Everyday on my bike commute home, I see motorists running red lights or darting heedlessly around obstacles, risking people’s lives to save seconds of their days; cyclists impatiently edging their way past pedestrians; and pedestrians stepping out into traffic without looking around them, often because they’re absorbed by their smartphones.

We’re all guilty of bad behavior on the roadways at times, myself included, so I’m not going to presume to stereotype any particular group of road users (I’ll leave that to the trolls). But when we hear about terrible tragedies like these, it’s good to take a moment to reflect on our own behavior and do what we can to civilly share our civic spaces, particularly when wielding the deadly weapons of a fast-moving bicycle or an automobile moving at any speed.  

Comments

Riding too close to a large vehicle with blind spots is taking a risk - more experienced riders will hold back in case the large vehicle makes a wide turn.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 8:01 am

The answer is indeed obvious. The driver is guilty but SFPD let him get away without a single citation. That wasn't an accident! By California law, driver needs to be as close to the right as possible when turning right. I always make sure I shift to the edge of right when I turn, so close that there isn't any room for bicyclist. I also make sure my right light is turn on BEFORE I TURN - I am a female who bike and drive, so I know that bicyclist don't feel comfortable at the right side of a truck for long, in addition to the fact that a female bicyclist can rarely match up to the speed of a car. The only way she would had been at the right side of a truck would had been if the truck driver by-pass her. If the truck driver had paid attention to the fact he just pass her, look to the right, turn on their red light ahead of time, shift himself to the right edge as the California law indicates, the whole thing would had most likely be avoided. That driver was negligent of his driving. He didn't look. He made a quick right turn. He killed someone and wasn't punished for it. Bite them in butt? As if! This is a problem of our society blaming the victim. Plain and simple. In my experience, there are as many aggressive and illegal driving driver as there is bicyclist, the only problem is we let the aggressive drivers get away and blame the victim, trying to find fault in the victim to comfort ourselves in believing tragedy don't happen to the "good law-abiding people like us". Which sadly, is a false illusion.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

Nobody is guilty unless convicted by a court of law. Americans are innocent until proven guilty and what you might think is "obvious" is irrelevant.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 7:20 am

Neither you or I know who is at fault, cars back up there all the time to make the right turn, so the driver could have passed the bike long before it got there. The driver could have had his signal on and had been in the turn and the bike tried to squeeze by. There is no way to make a quick right turn there.

I ride by that intersection everyday, I rode by about an hour after the accident. The truck was a long bobtail and stopped well around the corner, so I would assume the bike got caught up in the rear wheels.

Posted by - on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 9:46 am

where the cyclist was too close to a truck making a turn.

Experienced drivers and cyclists can tell when a vehicle is likely to make a turn even if it doesn't signal, just by judging the speed and angle of attack.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 10:38 am

The facts have not come out about the truck/cyclist incident. It would be stupid to condemn either party.....then again this is a "story" that had a predefined narrative.

What we do know about Bucherre is he has not offered any substantial and sincere apology to the Hui's. He seemed put out and irritated. But this is the guy that lamented the death of his helmet.

Yo, Chris; Have fun changing nappies.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 16, 2013 @ 9:36 am

Overseas the rules of the road are enforced, especially in bike havens like Amsterdam, the paths of bikes are clearly delineated, the bike riders do not do a "half-stop-slow-down-glimpse-and-ride-through-the-intersection". This is what occurs daily, on market street and other bike lanes and routes. The bike enthusiast takes the risk when they slow down than speed-up again, just as a car does when it decides it cannot stop on a yellow light, judgement and decision, is key. The fact that many cyclists ride by the rules, and many others do not, creates a hazardous situation, that requires enforcement. The need is for cyclists to respect the fact that cars and trucks have closed windows and blind spots, and do not always recognize a small high-speed bike vehicle approaching, to risk all and dive through intersections even on yellow or red invites injury. The result is what occurs daily in SF.

Posted by goodmaab50 on Aug. 16, 2013 @ 11:32 am

Prove it? No. You can't prove it because it isn't true.

California should have the "Idaho Stop" law because bicyclists are far more prone to injury from being hit while motionless at a traffic signal and unable to accelerate rapidly out of danger.

A rear-ending while sitting in a car at a stop light that might result in a mild case of whiplash will typically kill a cyclist.

I run red lights (after coming to a near stop) and cruise through stop signs (after slowing) all of the time. I feel I have a perfect necessity defense even though the petro industry lobbiest and four-wheeled jealous haters stand in the way of a sensible law change.

The reason why bicyclists should indeed have "special rights" is because they are in such great danger unless they ride in violation of the letter of the law; i.e.: prudently.

And bicyclists only slowing at stop signs does not create the same hazard as motor vehicles doing so because by the very nature of being on a bike. The riders are far more attuned to what is happening around them than the others.

Automobile drivers are in a cocoon of safety and sensory insulation from the world; completely opposite of the situation of bicyclists who have no such impediments to sense or feeling of invincibility.

Bicyclists are both able to judge the safety of continuing through an intersection despite not fully stopping etc -- *and* they are motivated to do so with safety as is no other road user except pedestrians.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 16, 2013 @ 1:47 pm

You might be the most observant and considerate bicyclist in the city, but others don't necessarily follow suit.

The only workable system is one in which the rules are the same for motor vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians with appropriate rights of way.

Here's a perfect example that I just encountered. I was a pedestrian waiting for a red light at the corner immediately next to traffic. The light changes, I look and step into the road. A bicyclist heading perpendicular to me skids to a stop. I ask, "Where you going to stop?" His reply, "I stopped." My calm question: "Where you going to stop?" His angry reply: "Fuck you."

After I crossed, I looked back and noticed that he was turning right. Most likely his plan was to not stop, but just turn right at the corner. I was in his way.

This type of incident is all too common among increasingly selfish San Franciscans.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

they are not giving any out. They act like entitled whiney crybabies who think the rules do not apply to them. And the people don't like it.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

The overwhelming majority of San Franciscans support the Transit First policy and support more cycling infrastructure.

Maybe you suburban commuters don't like bike lanes, but your opinion really doesn't matter.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 11:45 am

initiative on a bike lane.

And bikes are not public transit because they are private.

Posted by anon on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 11:54 am

The Transit First policy specifically mentions bicycles as being prioritized over private automobiles many times:

The following principles shall constitute the City and County's transit-first policy and shall be incorporated into the General Plan of the City and County. All officers, boards, commissions, and departments shall implement these principles in conducting the City and County's affairs:

[...]

2. Public transit, including taxis and vanpools, is an economically and environmentally sound alternative to transportation by individual automobiles. Within San Francisco, travel by public transit, by bicycle and on foot must be an attractive alternative to travel by private automobile.

3. Decisions regarding the use of limited public street and sidewalk space shall encourage the use of public rights of way by pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit, and shall strive to reduce traffic and improve public health and safety.

[...]

6. Bicycling shall be promoted by encouraging safe streets for riding, convenient access to transit, bicycle lanes, and secure bicycle parking.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

Even a car can be used as transit, e.g. as cabs, car sharing and pooling, and shareable economy companies like Uber, Lyft etc.

Bikes? Never. They are the ultimate in private transit, along with horses and motorcycles, but even they can carry a passenger.

Young, old and disabled people cannot use bikes, and bike lanes often slow down transit.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

Can you read? Old and young people ride bicycles all the time in places like Amsterdam and Portland. And they will here too, you watch and see.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

It's a major Californian city.

Cars will still be dominant in 100 years. Get used to it.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

In the case of breaking with official practise in regard to stop signs and such, it requires extreme care in anticipating potentially dangerous situations, such as the presence of other bicyclists with similar tendencies to skirt rules or pedestrians and drivers of parked vehicles who lack awareness to perceive the presence of their fellow two-wheeled travelers.

Not everyone is created equal in that regard and my solution to the problem is enforcement of unsafe driving laws as opposed to mindless enforcement of illogical and counterproductive traffic rules.

From your account it seems that you stepped into traffic based on your perception that you had right of way and walked right into the path of a bicyclist who intended to breeze through a stop at a corner. The bicyclist -- who may have not been able to see you earlier due to a visual obstruction or may not have expected you to move in the direction you moved -- nonetheless was able to stop in time to avoid colliding with you.

Perhaps you both had a bit of extra adrenilin coursing through your bloodstreams from that encounter, but the fact that you finally got the finger after sassing him twice over the event is unsurprising and unremarkable.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 2:32 pm

exactly what you are criticizing others for.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

Your fantasy traffic system disregards pedestrian safety. I suppose because you think bicycles are a minor threat to pedestrians because of their low weight.

Bicyclists feel put upon by motorists, often justifiably. So they often respond by disregarding traffic rules; riding on the sidewalk, running lights and stop signs.

Guess what. Pedestrians face dangers from both motorists and bicyclists and are by far the most vulnerable and die in the biggest numbers of the streets of San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 8:48 am

49-720. STOPPING — TURN AND STOP SIGNALS.
(1) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a stop sign shall slow down and, if required for safety, stop before entering the
intersection. After slowing to a reasonable speed or stopping, the person shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on
another highway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time the person is moving across or within the intersection or junction of
highways, except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a turn or proceed through
the intersection without stopping.
(2) A person operating a bicycle or human-powered vehicle approaching a steady red traffic-control signal shall stop before entering the intersection,
except that a person after slowing to a reasonable speed and yielding the right-of-way if required, may cautiously make a right-hand turn without stopping or
may cautiously make a left-hand turn onto a one-way highway without stopping.
(3) A person riding a bicycle shall comply with the provisions of section 49-643, Idaho Code.
(4) A signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given during not less than the last one hundred (100) feet traveled by the bicycle before turning,
provided that a signal by hand and arm need not be given if the hand is needed in the control or operation of the bicycle.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 10:49 am

And Los Angeles certainly isn't Boise.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 11:27 am

The reason that an Idaho type law makes sense in California is quite similar to the reason it makes sense to allow motorcyclists to "filter" through stopped traffic at stop lights and when traffic is moving slowly here: it is safer on balance than forcing them to obey the law made for automotive traffic.

In the case of motorcyclists, forcing them stop and wait at the end of a queue is tantamount to asking them to play a form of Russian roulette. Sooner or later some half-blind or otherwise impaired driver will pin them up against the car in front.

In the case of bicyclists, the danger is even greater due to the tiny mass of their vehicles and the fact that unlike motorcycles they do not have the capacity to accelerate in the blink of an eye to get out of trouble.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

by cyclists and motorcyclists may well be true. But once again, you are ignoring the dangers faced by pedestrians who, under your system, would be more vulnerable to collisions with bicyclists and their varying levels of care when approaching intersections.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

It specifically limits the exemption from stopping or remaining stopped to those who can proceed without jeopardizing their own or others' safety.

(Incidentally, the Idaho traffic code forbids pedestrians from entering a crosswalk suddenly in such a way as to require any vehicle to come to a sudden stop to avoid hitting them as in the situation mentioned previously; might even be the same under California law already.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

otherwise use caution?

The only way to use real caution is to go dead slow or come to a complete stop. That applies equally to all vehicles. Why do cyclists always try and seek exemptions from the law as if it somehow doesn't apply to them? And then whine when one of their own gets creamed?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

shared yesterday does not bolster your case.

I didn't perceive to have the right of way; I had the right of way.

I didn't sass the bicyclist. I calmly asked the same question twice to help him think about his obligation to stop at a red light before turning right. He did not give me the finger.

Even with the right of way, I looked and stepped into the intersection carefully. The bicyclist was approaching the intersection much too rapidly; hence, his necessity to stop quickly to avoid hitting me.

Believe me, I am walking extra carefully and slowly because I am recovering from severe injuries suffered when a motorcycle struck me while I was walking on my first day of a trip to Kingston, Jamaica, leaving me virtually immobile for the better part of a month. (A vehicle parked the wrong way confused me while crossing the street in a country where vehicles travel on the opposite side, leading to a momentary lapse in concentration and judgment with disastrous consequences.)

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

characterized the story you recounted -- but this is what you wrote:

"The light changes, I look and step into the road. A bicyclist heading perpendicular to me skids to a stop. I ask, 'Where you going to stop?' His reply, 'I stopped.' My calm question: 'Where you going to stop?' His angry reply: "Fuck you.'"

That makes it sound like you looked right at the oncoming bicyclist and stepped into his path. If that is the case, you had the right to do so but it was hardly prudent. I don't step in front of a car until I've made eye contact with the driver and recommend everyone excerise the same care with every vehicle.

Please understand that many people know that bikes don't typically come to a stop and they allow them to pass in that situation.

I am not saying there aren't rude and unsafe bicyclists -- there are! -- but your self-admitted drive to "school" the bicyclist does not put your behavior in the situation in the best possible light.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 3:48 pm

and etiquette? Sorry that my following of the traffic laws and trying to discuss the situation calmly with an apparently ignorant and short-tempered bicyclist offends your sensitive sensibilities.

Unfortunately, San Francisco is not your own private Idaho.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

every foreign country I have visited) tells me that your logic is not commonly shared.

I think it is safer if everyone stops at intersections and that applies equally to al road users.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 2:48 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 11:38 am

@Guest - I hear this trotted out a lot, but in the same threads I read claims that every bicyclist in the city is doing illegal California stops all the time, and yet the actual impact is very low (though, of course, emphasized way out of proportion to the 2-3 pedestrians hospitalized every day in this city). If the commenters are right, that would mean a legal Idaho stop actually would work well in this city.

Posted by Jym on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

because it is considered that that is a slippery slope that leads to more accidents.

Given that two pedestrians have been killed by cyclists in SF in the last two years, I think you're picking the wrong time to relax the law on cyclists.

Posted by anon on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

You think that because you are always considerate and careful, all other cyclists must be. Aside from the fact that you may very well not be as careful or considerate as you think you are, using only yourself as an example does not prove a point. If everyone were considerate and careful, we wouldn't need any laws. Unfortunately, a substantial minority of people are simply inconsiderate, reckless, or even malicious, and a larger number of people who usually do the right thing have moments where they would chose not to do the right thing if they thought they could get away with it. So, we have laws that apply to everyone to encourage everyone to be just a little more careful, considerate, and thoughtful. When people think the law doesn't apply to them, or worse, when they are actually exempted from following the law, people tend to behave more selfishly, carelessly, and even cruelly.

Posted by Chris on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 1:46 am

hit a cyclist if only he thinks he can get away with it.

Unless there was intent to cause harm, then it's an accident.

But yes, cyclists should be more careful around trucks, buses and other large vehicles with blind spots.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 7:22 am

What I have noticed in this town:

1. Bikes don't stop at red lights/stop signs very often. This doesn't bother me much, except when they nearly run over pedestrians or weave through pedestrians. And that happens a lot. I've seen people nearly run over at the Embarcadero/Ferry Building area many times.

2. Double parking by cars and trucks is completely out of control -- with no enforcement. The culture here seems to be that if you put your hazards on, you can park wherever you want. The parking officers will give a car a ticket for not having their wheels angled to the curb sufficiently, but if you're blocking Bush Street in rush hour, it's OK, because your hazards are on.

Posted by The Commish on Aug. 16, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

What I have noticed in this

What I have noticed in this town:

1. Motorists don't stop at red lights/stop signs very often. This doesn't bother me much, except when they nearly run over pedestrians/cyclists or weave through pedestrians/cyclists. And that happens a lot. I've seen people nearly run over at the Embarcadero/Ferry Building area many times.

2. Double parking by cars and trucks is completely out of control -- with no enforcement. The culture here seems to be that if you put your hazards on, you can park wherever you want. The parking officers will give a car a ticket for not having their wheels angled to the curb sufficiently, but if you're blocking Bush Street in rush hour, it's OK, because your hazards are on.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 16, 2013 @ 3:54 pm

my experience - they appear to not believe that they even need to. Likewise they blow through crosswalks, which recently led to a cyclist killing a pedestrian at Castro and Market.

Cyclists also do not obey one-way streets or stop signs. Until they get their act together, it is going be tough for them to get the sympathy they clearly think they deserve.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 7:59 am

You can take your sympathy and eat it with whipped cream, motorist.

Posted by pete moss on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 1:52 pm

Thanks for showing us your prejudice.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

No problem cager

Posted by pete moss on Aug. 19, 2013 @ 4:19 am

It's attitudes like that which get cyclists in danger.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 19, 2013 @ 6:43 am

Cagers like you run over far more pedestrians. You also speed and break the law all the time, which leads to far more fatalities. Before lecturing other people about the law, you should get your own house in order.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 11:37 am

Two pedestrians have been killed by cyclists recently in SF.

Posted by anon on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 11:55 am

20 pedestrians have been killed in the same amount of time by car drivers. Cars run over and severely injure people in San Francisco every single day. Bicycles don't do that.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 12:30 pm

so if only 10 times as many pedestrians have been killed by vehicles than by bikes, then clearly bikes are more dangerous to pedestrians, per capita.

And even more so per mile travelled.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

Earlier you said there were 2000 times as many cars. Make up your mind psycho.

Cars are more dangerous per mile traveled than bicycles. I would prove it to you but you are too stupid and sociopathic for me to waste my time on.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 1:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

Some very important information for drivers from the California Vehicle Code:

"Turning Across Bicycle Lanes
21717. Whenever it is necessary for the driver of a motor vehicle to cross a bicycle lane that is adjacent to his lane of travel to make a turn, the driver shall drive the motor vehicle into the bicycle lane prior to making the turn and shall make the turn pursuant to Section 22100 [general turning regulations]."

In other words, if you are making a right turn you are SUPPOSED to block the bike lane, and bikers are supposed to either stop behind you or safely go around you on your left.

But expect to hear a lot of expletives when you follow this law providing for biccyclist safety.

Posted by GuestDD on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 11:45 am

makes no sense for long vehicles like buses and trucks that must perform wide turns.

If other cyclists like you are failing to make that distinction, then that could explain why such accidents happen.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 12:32 pm

Do as the cops do in montreal. Ticket the bicyclists the same way they do the cars and I have seen the bicyclists stop at all stop signs and lights. respect people

Posted by Guestron on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

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