Eyes on the Street: Backwards Driver Crashes Into Cyclist in GG Park

3927087364_ed4bda0fcd.jpgFlickr photo: NateShow

From SF Citizen via Eyes on Blogs comes word of a nasty collision between a bicyclist and an SUV driver in Golden Gate Park Wednesday. The photographer who snapped these shots described the crash on his Flickr post:

The driver of this SUV (apparently not from the area), was backing up in traffic to correct an incorrect turn, and backed right into the cyclist (unidentified), who took a dive through the truck’s rear window and briefly lost consciousness. When I arrived, SFFD was on the scene and working on the cyclist, who had regained consciousness and was speaking with EMTs. He was put in a neck brace, loaded onto the ambulance and sent off to SF General. Confidence was high the cyclist would recover. SFPD were also on scene taking witness statements.

Sgt. Lyn Tomioka, an SFPD spokesperson, said the driver kicked into reverse after an illegal u-turn:

This occurred on 9/16/09 at 11:33 am, on JFK west of Kezar. SUV driver was a Marin resident and the cyclist lives in SF. The driver of the SUV was making an illegal U turn and then had to back up to complete that turn. That is when the cyclist was stuck and went through the rear window. (Thank God he was wearing a helmet – which absorbed most of the impact) There was an independent witness who stayed on scene, and the cyclist was taken to SFGH for treatment. He was interviewed at SFGH, but did not recall the incident. The driver was at fault in this case.

Tomioka said the driver was not cited at the scene for unsafe backing (California Vehicle Code 22106) or speeding. See additional photos after the break.

3926273667_4cb51b2f3c.jpgFlickr photo:
3926201907_78a1834505.jpg

  • I wonder how fast this idiot was going while backing up? He must have been travelling at high speed, if the bicycle couldn’t get out of his way.

  • kit

    What an idiot.

  • Eric

    And as usual we can probably count on the police to give the driver nothing more than a couple of minor traffic ticket. After all in the eyes of the police bikes are not real vehicles.

  • Jym

    =v= Time for Healthy Weekdays. Cars (and SUVs) out of the park.

  • Virginia Lee

    What, no one is going to blame the cyclist? What happened to blaming the victim? Y’all are losing yer mojo.

  • Meanwhile SFPD runs a sting on cyclists rolling the stoplights at Van Ness and Market.

  • Eric

    “Tomioka said the driver was not cited at the scene for unsafe backing (California Vehicle Code 22106) or speeding.”

    What a surprise, the police let the driver walk away from the accident they caused without a single ticket. I guess it only counts if you a hit another car.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    SUV driver = psychopath.
    (Regardless of mowing down cyclists.)

    But, but … I need one for … the children!

  • dixter

    I don’t understand…why wasn’t the SUV driver cited?

  • Seven

    About 3 weeks ago, I was hit by driver backing into a crosswalk in Golden Gate Park. I was a pedestrian, and only my quick reflexes kept me on top of the car’s trunk and not under the wheels.

  • Michael Treece

    Yet another incident to report to the new chief of the SFPD to illustrate the sheer uselessness of his employees…

  • maybe we need to start licensing drivers, you know with some sort of schooling and test to ensure that they understand that they’re driving a vehicle and can’t just goof around on streets willy nilly.

    I’m aware of the money collection center at this thing called the DMV, but that doesn’t count. They give driver’s licenses away like candy over there.

  • Nick

    There’s about 300-400 injury-accidents involving bikes and cars each year in the city. I was in the waiting room of an ER not too long ago and the paramedics rushed a road cyclist in on a stretcher.

    It’s be interesting to do an interview with one of the ER doctors to get their take on bike safety.

  • ” Sgt. Lyn Tomioka, an SFPD spokesperson, said…’Thank God he was wearing a helmet – which absorbed most of the impact’.”

    God and helmets have _nothing_ to do with it.

    A helmet makes no difference for this type of impact. The certification process does not test for this type of incident. Helmetless Tour-de-France riders have torpedoed through rear windows at much higher velocities and gone on to race the next day.

    It is also disturbing that police (and the media) continue to focus on bicyclists strapping useless bits of styrofoam onto their heads as means of bicycle safety rather than strict enforcement of traffic laws on car drivers.

  • Eric

    “It is also disturbing that police (and the media) continue to focus on bicyclists strapping useless bits of styrofoam onto their heads as means of bicycle safety rather than strict enforcement of traffic laws on car drivers.”

    Thank god the cyclist was wearing a helmet, since you have no medical training you have no idea how much the injury was reduced. You don’t have to wear a helmet, on the other hand your also welcome to talk to my friend who teaches adults with head injuries how to eat with a fork or tie a shoe.

  • Eric – if he never got run over by someone doing an illegal u-turn and then reversing into traffic, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

  • @Eric:
    If bike helmets were a medical device (as opposed to consumer product), the FDA would have pulled them from the market for lack of effectiveness. We now have 1 decade of crash data to examine from countries which passed nationwide mandatory helmet laws, including Australia and Spain. Result: no measurable statistical improvement in cyclist safety.

    Ironically, countries with lowest helmet use rates have best cycle safety. There is simply no way to explain that outcome if helmets were even remotely as effective as claimed by promoters.

  • Aaron B.

    @Drunk Engineer:

    As much as I believe we shouldn’t have to wear helmets because our roads should be safer, and as much as I actually don’t wear a helmet and advocate safer riding habits and enforcement on driving behavior, a quick Google search yields a page of seemingly undeniable statistics showing bicycle deaths without helmets ranging around 90% (as opposed to the deaths with helmets). Here’s what I found:

    http://www.bhsi.org/stats.htm

    Scroll down to: “Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety”

  • Eric

    “Ironically, countries with lowest helmet use rates have best cycle safety. There is simply no way to explain that outcome if helmets were even remotely as effective as claimed by promoters.”

    Please provide links to studies that back up your claim.

    If you are referring to European countries then you should also keep in mind that the narrow streets that pre-date cars create an effective method of preventing drivers from engaging in the type of dangerous driving in America. As well as the fact that cycling has long been considered an acceptable means of transportation as well as a high profile sport. Where as in the United States bicycles are viewed as children’s toys or ridden only by those in Lycra.

  • @Eric:
    The link http://www.cycle-helmets.com/imgs/helmetsafety.jpg has the stats I think you are looking for.

    See the trend showing reduction in fatalities from increased helmet use?
    Neither do I.

    But your point is well taken: there is a major difference between some of those European countries and the American approach. In the US (and the UK, and Australia) we do _helmet_ promotion; whereas in countries like Denmark, Netherlands, Germany they have _bicycle_ promotion.

    Helmet promotion as practiced by groups like the “Institute from Highway Safety” mentioned above put the burden of bike safety on cyclists, not motorists. So when an SUV drivers commits a moving violation resulting in serious injury, the police spokesman does not say “Thank God we arrested a dangerous driver” but rather “Thank God the cyclist was wearing a helmet.” Helmet promotion is the easy way out for policymakers who want to do “something” — as long as that “something” does not involve proven solution; i.e. capital expenditures and vigorous traffic safety enforcement.

  • Bert

    @Drunk Engineer
    Helmets work…they are not perfect and if someone hits you hard enough you, they won’t do you much good. I’ve been hit by a car and crashed my bike plenty of times and my helmet saved me from much more serious head injuries.
    I don’t care if you don’t wear a helmet, just make sure you have a good health insurance policy so the rest of us don’t have to pay for your medical bills.

  • Nick

    If you crash without a helmet, you might damage your brain and not be able to make such logical statements about why a helmet isn’t needed.

  • patrick

    To me, I am sufficiently convinced that a helmet can reduce the severity of a head injury in a crash. But I am not necessarily convinced that the reduction in severity is enough to make a difference.

    I have seen credible arguments that helmets can cause a false sense of security resulting in people taking risks they wouldn’t have taken were they not wearing a helmet. A helmet is also of no benefit when the injury is head trauma.

    I am of mixed opinion as to the value of helmets. Personally, I feel less fear of death or injury from a crash while wearing a helmet, but on the other hand I feel less aware of my environment when wearing a helmet (it funnels the wind past my ears, making me less able to hear cars behind me, and somewhat blocks my vision when I’m looking behind me). It also makes me much hotter, and I feel more tired at the end of a ride when I’ve been wearing my helmet, making me worried about being more likely to make an error while on my bike that will cause me to get into an accident.

    I personally think that whatever a person is more comfortable with regards to helmet wearing is the right way to go.

  • patrick

    I meant:

    A helmet is also of no benefit when the injury is NOT head trauma.

  • Eric

    “Helmet promotion is the easy way out for policymakers who want to do “something” — as long as that “something” does not involve proven solution; i.e. capital expenditures and vigorous traffic safety enforcement.”

    I agree with you on this point.

  • Eric

    “I am of mixed opinion as to the value of helmets. Personally, I feel less fear of death or injury from a crash while wearing a helmet, but on the other hand I feel less aware of my environment when wearing a helmet (it funnels the wind past my ears, making me less able to hear cars behind me, and somewhat blocks my vision when I’m looking behind me). It also makes me much hotter, and I feel more tired at the end of a ride when I’ve been wearing my helmet, making me worried about being more likely to make an error while on my bike that will cause me to get into an accident.”

    I don’t know what you are wearing, 25 years ago when the Bell Biker helmet came out you could make this claim. h\Helmet design has evolved considerably and your claims are excuses that you use when you know better.

    While a helmet may not help if it is not a head injury. Remember this, broken bones heal, brain damage does not heal.

  • Helmets sure. But if we are making a prioritized list of how we can improve safety for cyclists, helmets are way down the list. Why do they get such publicity? Because for the people that matter – “wear a helmet” stigmatizes the cyclist, “don’t text and drive”/etc… points the finger squarely at self.

  • “25 years ago when the Bell Biker helmet came out you could make this claim. Helmet design has evolved considerably and your claims are excuses that you use when you know better.”

    Actually, it is the other way around. Whereas the original Bell helmet complied with Snell standards, any helmet made in the last 15 years falls under watered-down CPSC regulations and has less crash energy protection.

    Moreover, neither Standard tests for crash energy which occurs in collisions faster than walking speed. And both standards specifically state that certification process does not apply to collisions with motor vehicles (and other “3rd party” objects). Thus, any tales about how helmet saved the life of bicyclist in motor vehicle collision falls in the category of “anecdote” or “lucky charm.”

  • Aaron B.

    Everyone watch this. Regardless of your feelings on John Stossel, it’s a bit eye-opening.

  • Aaron B.

    Woops link didn’t work:

  • patrick

    @eric

    you said:

    “Helmet design has evolved considerably and your claims are excuses that you use when you know better.”

    Exactly what claims are excuses?

    Helmets do make make ones head hotter, simple fact. Helmets making people’s heads hot is a common complaint about helmets. Styrofoam is insulating and most heat is lost through the head, so a helmet can significantly impact a person’s ability to get rid of excess heat. Heat can affect brain function, thus increasing risk to a rider that is overheating. Adding holes can reduce, but not eliminate, the problem, but at the cost of lowering the protective abilities of a helmet.

    The helmet I have does direct more wind right past my ears, which makes it harder to hear. It is quite obvious when going faster than 15mph. This is due to the fact that the helmet rests just above the ears, the preventing air from rising above the head.

    The helmet does block some of my view, not all, but that’s why I said “slightly”.

    My bike ride today (done without a helmet) left me less tired than my bikeride last thursday (done with a helmet) even though I felt a little sick today.

    I never tried to say that helmets are bad, I am just pointing out that there are trade-offs and each person should choose for themselves.

    By the way, helmets are not designed for the number 1 cause of major bike injury: impact with a moving automobile. The tests they are subjected to are not even remotely close to the sort of impacts sustained in that sort of crash.

  • Aaron B.

    @Drunk Engineer:

    Your argument about the graph of bicycle deaths and helmet usage is fallacious because that is not an accurate measurement of the effectiveness of helmets. All that shows is that there are many factors involved in bicycle fatality rates. The lack of correlation does not mean lack of causation. Those countries with lower fatality rates despite low helmet usage have other, much more effective safety measures – mainly road design, and since countries like this one have bad road design… yes, of course the fatalities will still be higher.

    The only true measurement of helmets’ effectiveness is comparison of accidents with helmets and accidents without helmets, which I have provided and you’ve ignored. Yes, roads should be made safer, and yes, the media, gov’t and society should not put the burden of responsibility of cyclists. I think pretty much everyone here agrees with those notions. But it sounds like the only argument you’re trying to win here is to rationalize your not wearing a helmet even in the face of bad circumstance such as those in this city and country. Even I will wear my helmet when I know I’ll be riding in dangerous traffic, if only part-time.

  • “The only true measurement of helmets’ effectiveness is comparison of accidents with helmets and accidents without helmets.”

    @Aaron:
    I agree. We can look to countries like Australia (a country with US-style traffic engineering) which passed a nationwide mandatory helmet law. In very short time, the rate of helmet use more than doubled, providing a good dataset to test helmet effectiveness.

    If helmets were “90%” effective as claimed by automobile groups like the Institute for Highway Safety (a real misnomer), this would have been reflected in cycle injury and fatality statistics. Instead, there was no evidence of any impact from the legislation (other than a decline in cycling popularity).

    There are a number of papers out there on this. I have a copy of Robinson BMJ.2006; 332: 722-725, but only the graphs are available on the web.

  • Aaron B.

    Well, until I see strong enough evidence against helmet effectiveness, which I haven’t, I’ll still use my judgement. On the other hand, I have seen data like that which I linked as well as my friend from Transportation Alternatives in NYC telling me that 97% of cyclist deaths there are sans helmet.

    Oddly enough, where I choose to never wear my helmet in GG Park, which is where this guy got hit (I live near it and use it as my route towards downtown). I always figured it’s so much safer than the streets with its few intersections, wide visibility and such, but I guess you have to leave room for idiots like these.

  • Eric

    “By the way, helmets are not designed for the number 1 cause of major bike injury: impact with a moving automobile. The tests they are subjected to are not even remotely close to the sort of impacts sustained in that sort of crash.”

    Provide a link to a study the proves this.

    In over 25 years of bike commuting, most of it in urban settings long before there were bike lanes and bike paths I have yet to be hit by a car. On the other hand; potholes, trolley/train tracks, gravel, poorly maintained roads, and dogs have been a bigger problem. The three accidents I have had have involved rain, a pothole, and a pedestrian who tried to cross the street against the light.

  • Ryan

    Hey Everyone,

    Thought I’d let ya’ll know that the cyclist is my brother and he’s doing well.

    Ryan

  • “On the other hand, I have seen data like that which I linked as well as my friend from Transportation Alternatives in NYC telling me that 97% of cyclist deaths there are sans helmet.”

    According to the Highway “Safety” Institute, most cycle fatalities are helmet-less, adult male riding in early evening or nighttime. Thus, the obvious safety solution is sex-change for all male cyclists.

    Now, you may scoff and say being male has nothing to do with overall safety — and you would be correct. The same argument applies to whether the rider was wearing a helmet. Correlation != Causation.

    A major confounding factor in road safety statistics is cycle and driver behavior. We have observational studies that find helmet-wearing, lycra-wearing cyclists are much more risk-adverse. They avoid riding at night and are much more likely to follow the vehicle code (i.e. not engage in wrong-way or sidewalk riding).

    So, when we find most fatalities are cyclists who do not wear helmets — is the death due to lack of helmet, or is this simply a characteristic of a particular at-risk demographic? The “Institute” doesn’t say, but I think we know the answer. It would be far better to educate that type of rider in bike safety rather than engage in pointless helmet promotion.

  • patrick

    here’s a description of how bike helmets are tested:

    http://www.bhsi.org/testing.htm

    Notice the test criteria are nothing like what a car accident is like, and in fact bear little resemblance to the conditions of almost any bike accident.

    Here’s a summary of the tests: they test vertical drop onto the top of the helmet from no more than about 6 feet in height, no rotation involved, no horizontal movement, no side impacts. They also test with only the approximate weight of a human head, as if there would never be a body attached to that head in an accident.

    On the other hand the typical bike accident, particularly one where the head could be injured, involves a vertical drop element (from the bike to the ground), horizontal motion (from the speed of the moving bike), and a rotational element (since a biker’s head is usually at the top of their body, and the body would need to rotate in order for it to impact with the ground or another hard surface)

  • patrick

    Thanks for the update Ryan, glad to hear that your brother is doing well.

  • ridePA

    You people and your statistics, I have been riding most my life, I have been wearing a helmet all that time. I have had small slide out, big pileups in races, flips landing right on the helmet, broken a couple bones, cracked a helmet, and in all my crashes the worst thing that happened to my head was a concussion. Helmets work and you’re a Dumas not to wear one. That’s knowing from experience!

  • It is very Bad.Don’t mix drink with Driving. Driver who drunk make his as well as others life in danger.
    For this mistake you have to pay more then as you aspect.

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