NYT asks, "Is it okay to kill cyclists?"

The Times gave good play and a cool graphic to its "Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?" piece in Sunday's paper.
Kurt McRobert

It was great to read the provocative opinion piece about cycling in San Francisco in yesterday’s The New York Times’ Sunday Review (“Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?”), which amplified recent reporting and editorial messages from the Bay Guardian.

Kudos especially to the writer of that headline, which crystallizes the issue beautifully. San Francisco and other cities have essentially sanctioned violence against cyclists by refusing to issue citations against negligent motorists who kill and seriously injure cyclists. (It’s a sadly similar story with pedestrians, as a Bay Citizen investigation found last year).

“There is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault, as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene,” wrote Daniel Duane, a San Franciscan who now says he’s too scared to ride local roadways.

San Francisco will never get anywhere close to its official goal of having 20 percent of all vehicle trips being by bicycle by 2020 if the San Francisco Police Department focuses more on harassing cyclists running stop signs than it does on citing motorists that are actually responsible for most car versus cyclist collisions (according to a study cited in the article).

The reasoning for going easy on drivers who kill cyclists and pedestrians has been the assumption that juries won’t convict because “accidents happen” and we all need to keep driving, right? But that societal attitude causes problems ranging for needless death to global warming, and it only begins to change with good think-pieces like the New York Times piece.    


endlessly play a card.

Unfortunately, as a white male tech worker who helped gentrify the Mission by buying a condo, he doesn't have a card to play. The "cyclist card" is the best he has.

Posted by anon on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:51 am

And in making that choice, you explicitly accept the risks of so doing.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:36 am

I don't care about your respect. 3/4th of San Francisco voters think that cycling is a good thing for San Francisco. 2/3rds want more bicycle lanes.

I don't have your respect and frankly, I would feel pretty bad about myself if I did have it. I don't want your respect. I don't need it.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:26 am

surround you at speed and who are much larger than you are.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:36 am

"San Francisco will never get anywhere close to its official goal of having 20 percent of all vehicle trips being by bicycle by 2020 if the San Francisco Police Department focuses more on harassing cyclists running stop signs than it does on citing motorists..."

who do the same thing: running stop signs.

As a cyclist, I come to a complete stop at stop signs while motorists go on by me without stopping completely. They do a "yield" at best, not a complete stop. San Francisco has become a car culture just like Los Ángeles while many people pretend to be "green.".

I'm so sick of the hatred for cyclists. Most of the complaints that people have about cyclists can also be said about motorists, many of whom are far from model drivers.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 6:59 pm

because when I stop at stop signs cars seldom race past me running through the light, while bikes riders always do. When stopping at the few stop signs on Harrison I am always passed by some bike riding asshole while cars always wait there turn.

I suppose I could suffer from confirmation bias, but as now I drive off and on for work and really am sick of driving, and I don't look at biking as a lifestyle choice, I doubt that is the case.

The city has some real idiots riding bikes who look at it all as an entitlement issue, while drivers are just doing there thing.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

wrong way down one-way streets.

Everyone does "Idaho stops", I'd agree, at stop signs but, again, far more bikes disregard stop lights than cars.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 6:22 am

Don't we also then sanction violence against pedestrians when we fAil to prosecute bike riders which kill pedestrians via negligence? Yes it's a small number but a life is a life.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 7:02 pm

Every cyclist that has killed a pedestrian has been prosecuted. Most drivers who kill pedestrians or cyclists are not even given a traffic ticket.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 11:46 pm

Very few deaths by cyclists have occurred. So, taking a handful of cases and comparing it to a much larger number of incidents is not a good comparison.

Also, it is not a crime in-and-of-itself to kill someone, regardless of the means. You have to meet the elements of the criminal statute when you commit the homicide and have no legal defense for it to constitute a crime.

Vehicular manslaughter per the language of the statute requires GROSS negligence-not mere simple negligence. Gross negligence is less than recklessness, but it is quite a bit more than just simple negligence. So, not every driver who hits and kills someone has committed a crime (though, they may well be civilly liable).

Posted by Chris on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:27 am

This happened like... once? And that guy did get prosecuted.

Posted by Greg on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 11:49 pm

but I want to recount an experience I had recently where a motorist clearly threatened me with his car by swerving close to me and revving his engine. My "crime"? I had entered a roadway from a driveway at a location where a new lane was formed out of two; where two lanes became three. There was no bike lane.

I did not allow for the car driver to be able to select that lane, but rather assumed that I was not cutting in front of anyone since it was a new lane opened up. The auto driver obviously felt he had been wronged by that action.

When I am riding in a bike lane, I often feel that auto drivers swerve into the lane shortly after they pass me in order to make clear that they take my rights quite lightly; sometimes they swerve towards me when they are abreast.

The law needs to change on a state level to give us the Idaho stop law and until then, S.F. cops have to be slapped down hard for their foolish and counterproductive harrassment of bikeys who don't stop at stop signs.

It is just basic sense. If a bikey comes to a complete stop it increases the time they spend in an intersection without any -- or at least adequate -- manuevering speed.

What's happening with the cops who lied about researching video on the Amelie killing anyhow? Anybody reprimanded yet?

F this bullshit.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

"I was talking to a very rich relative of mine today..." "I was riding my bike when I was threatened by a driver recently." "I was walking through the Castro looking at political signs in windows the other day..."

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

I was providing political advice to Governor Brown the other day (he calls me weekly).

I recommended liquidating the kulaks, and expropriating all private property in the name of the revolution.

He said that he would get to it after New Year's, and thanked me for my "always perceptive" advice.

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 10:13 pm

the name lillipublicans except in rare circumstances. I never claimed to have a rich relative or be walking through the Castro looking at political signs in windows, and your bold faced lie to that effect demonstrates your absolute lack of integrity.

When you write something that isn't either ridiculous or obnoxious, it is like some sort of accident.

Anyhow, on January 1st, the new law forbidding motorists to move within three feet of a bicyclist will go into effect. Will S.F. cops be made to enforce the law as aggressively as it must be enforced to further the safety goals of bicyclists and other right thinking citizens?

Has SF Police Chief Greg Suhr taken *any* action to ensure his force knows about the new law and will enforce it?

I don't think we need to ban cars, but we need to have it be illegal to murder bicyclists with cars.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 10:46 pm

"I'm big" - lillipublicans.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 11:06 pm

"Unlike you, Troll II/Lucretia Snapples/etc., I only post under
the name lillipublicans except in rare circumstances."

Come on - you constantly post under racer x/xhsjdhf/etc./etc./etc. to the point where you complain that I am "imping" you by appropriating one of your many, many nics. Your point of view and writing style also bear a remarkable resemblance to some other posters on this board.

I can appreciate why you would want to disguise your compulsive posting, but it seems silly to deny it. At least you have appeared to have jettisoned the "troll barrier" merde.

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 11:27 pm

Thanks for posting this. I agree with you 100%. Except maybe I stop at all stop signs.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 15, 2013 @ 1:01 am

it's time we get serious about banning cars in san francisco. cars are a blight upon urban society and their presence takes up valuable space in a city that needs to better utilize the space it has for improving the lives and well-being of its citizens. have you ever stopped to think for a moment just how much of the city is just streets and roads, so people who are too lazy to walk, bike or even catch rides with public transportation can selfishly drive their oversized personal transport devices? this is ridiculous. san francisco should take the lead in 21st century city planning and begin the process of closing off a large portion of the downtown area to cars.

Posted by rob on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 8:47 pm

Will we ban those too? Since SF will now be a peninsula without cars are we going to tear down the Bay and Golden Gate bridges or convert them into pedestrian walkways? If Marin opposes tearing down the Golden Gate Bridge (since they helped pay for it) will we nuke or invade them? Are you proposing a total ban, especially in downtown, or just pushing cars to the margins ( read: undesirable) areas of the city.

Your ideas are interesting and I wish to subscribe to your website.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

personal transport vehicles, not service and public transport vehicles (which still need bridges and highways, duh). stop being willfully stupid.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 8:08 am

Better yet, let's make the speed limit 10 MPH everywhere in San Francisco, including the freeways.

A total ban is a tiny bit unrealistic, but we can remove parking spaces, take out lanes for bicycles, reduce speed limits, tear down freeways and make their lives a living hell until they finally go away and leave decent folk alone.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 12:17 am

like you want, and then we'll effectively have 5mph speed limits in San Francisco. Hell, we're almost there already. We just need a little more congestion. The way traffic works, even a small increase in the number of cars can have a huge effect. When I used to commute down the peninsula, I noticed a substantial positive effect on the commute in the wake of the dot.bomb bust, even though overall unemployment only increased by a little bit. So increasing the population by a good 40% won't reduce speeds by just a little. It should make traveling through the city damn near impossible. It'll be like Manhattan without the subway.

You can kill two birds with one stone: make life a living hell for most San Franciscans... and make huge amounts of money for big developers. It'll be your personal utopia!

Posted by Greg on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 10:18 pm

Regular people take Muni or ride their bikes, not insist on driving their luxury SUV 2 miles to their jobs in the Financial District. So if they get stuck in traffic, that is a good thing. Maybe they will take their carpetbagging asses back to Boston or NYC or whatever hellhole they came from.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:06 am

Historically buses are for poor people

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:49 am

some vague generic plea to "ban cars" is so ridiclkous it means that nobody will take you seriously when you suggest something real and doable

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 6:24 am

Anyone who drives or walks or rides a bike or skates around SF for 20 minutes can see the outrageous arrogance of bicyclists blowing through stop signs, redlights without so much as a pause while yelling "fuck you" at drivers and pedestrians. Their entitled attitude is shocking and they should be fined and ticketed as much as possible. Bikes need to be registered, have safety inspections and cyclist need to observe the laws like everyone else. Banning cars is laughable. Fortunately, SFBG won't be in business much longer--you're fading fast--to regale us with this fiction.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 8:58 am

Rob Anderson, I recognize your prose style anywhere.

Win any elections lately?

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 12:09 am

Good old Rob.

Godfather of the car-hugger lunatic fringe.

Posted by pete moss on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 5:16 am

public transit, and not private transportation modes such as cars and bikes.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:34 am

Attorney Chris Davis has devoted his practice to personal injury cases, for free legal consult please visit our website listed below.


Posted by Davis Law Group on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 9:44 am

more appropriate for dealing with accidents than the criminal justice system.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 9:57 am

Keep up the good work motorists!

Pretty soon the streets will be safe for us pedestrians, who are by definition are wheel-less

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 8:02 pm

In the south, before the civil rights awakening in the mid 20th century, whenever a black man was thought to have looked wrong at a white woman, he ran the risk of being lynched if not imprisoned and/or executed on the flimsiest of evidence. When a white person killed a black person, the cops would as "y'all need any help cleaning that up?"

How does contemporary biased enforcement of cyclist, pedestrian and motorist interactions differ from that insidious pattern?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 6:56 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 7:32 am

White southerners did not care about black southerners so it was okay to lynch them. Motorists do not care about bicyclists, so they feel that it is okay to hit and kill us. Apparently, under this analysis, civil rights violations are okay up until someone is killed in a certain way.

These are precisely the linguistic contortions that racist southerners went through to justify their dehumanization of black southerners.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:05 am
Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:16 am

Between 1880 and 1930, blacks had a 1/100,000 chance of being lynched each year. The death rate for SF bicyclists is 100 times worse.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:32 am

odds of winning the lottery, that doesn't mean that the two things have anything else in common.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 11:34 am

Neither lightning strikes nor winning the lottery matches the casual pattern of civil rights violations.

You dig yourself in deeper and bolster the case that the war on cyclists is a civil rights violation in progress with such diversionary language.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:21 pm

And can you name a judge who wouldn't throw it out as ridiculous?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

Civil rights lawsuits are not possible until there is civil rights law in place. Civil rights law is enacted once it becomes common knowledge that there are systemic patterns of civil rights violations.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:49 pm

self-serving claim that cyclists somehow magically and mysteriously have their rights violated.


Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

There was no legal basis for civil rights for blacks and women in 1963. Is the suggestion that it was okay to discriminate against blacks and women in 1963 simply because there were no civil rights protections on the books?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:39 pm

that any reasonable victimization or discrimination occurs.

The world is full of whiners like you but very few of them have any rational basis for claiming they are a protected group.

You are a white male tech worker and gentrifier. You don't get to play victim cards.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:52 pm

The morons over at streetsblog only adopted this approach once they saw that I did, I'd have raised it over there but the streets bloggers are lot like ideologues everywhere, unwilling to listen to anyone except those with which they already agree 100%.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

And since everyone disagrees with you, you must have a very lonely life.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 1:32 pm

Except when I worked with my neighbors over the past 18 months to hold off the MTA's arbitrary imposition of parking meters on existing North Mission residents.

More San Franciscans agree with me than with you.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

Avalos would be mayor now, and there would be no high-rise condo towers in the city.

However, you get an award for opposing new parking meters.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:33 pm

Two to one, three to two.

San Franciscans have awoken, walloped Snellgrove, Lee, Newsom and Rahaim.

There is plenty of more where that came from.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.