Driver Strikes Cyclist at Fell and Masonic

IMG_9463.jpgA Ford Focus ZXW station wagon involved in a crash at Fell and Masonic today. Photos: Jim Herd/SF Citizen

A driver struck and apparently injured a bicyclist at the intersection of Fell and Masonic this afternoon.

Details of the crash, including the extent of the bicyclist’s injuries, are still emerging, but photos of the crash published on SF Citizen show the victim’s red Cannondale fixed-gear bicycle split in two. The windshield and hood of the small Ford Focus ZXW station wagon involved in the crash were smashed.

Jim Herd, who happened upon the aftermath around 1 p.m., said he was able to gather only limited information about the circumstances, but did learn that the driver is a Native French speaker, and the victim’s brother was on the scene.

The intersection is notorious for conflicts between bicyclists and drivers, since drivers turning from Fell onto Masonic often fail to yield to bicyclists riding along the Panhandle bike path. That prompted the SFMTA to seek relief from the bike injunction to install a bike-only light at the intersection. Drivers have continued to illegally turn through the light, however.

Herd said he couldn’t tell what caused the crash, but that it appeared to happen at a higher speed than a typical crash between a turning car and a cyclist crossing the Panhandle path. The San Francisco Police Department could not confirm details of the crash immediately, but we’ll update with more information as it comes in.

Update: SFPD spokesperson Samson Chan said the cyclist suffered non-life-threatening injuries and a medic responded at the scene. According to Chan, a caller reported the cyclist had flipped in the air during the crash, but apparently was still conscious and breathing when officers arrived. The driver remained on the scene to speak with officers. Still no word on exactly how the crash happened.

More photos of the aftermath of the crash after the break.

IMG_9465.jpgAn officer holds the wreckage of a bicycle involved in the crash today.
IMG_9464_1.jpgA vehicle involved in the crash today.
IMG_9462.JPGThe victim’s brother holds the damaged bicycle.
IMG_9471.JPGThe scene of a crash at Fell and Masonic.
  • Nick

    This is pretty horrific. I hope the victim’s injuries are not life threatening. My sympathy to his family.

    I went through this intersection around 12:45 this afternoon. One thing I noticed is that there are right-of-way issues between cars and everyone else as cars speed down Masonic and take the right-turn onto Fell.

  • At least the car got more f*cked than the bike. Speedy recovery, bike love.

  • paddywack

    One reason no brakes on fixies is a stupid idea!

  • thatsmyname

    hey paddywack, look at the impact marks. the car hit the cyclist, not the other way around. at least apply some mental effort when attempting to talk shit

  • Peter Smith

    cool, @paddywack! you earn the Compassionate Citizen Award for the day! no evidence brakes had anything to do with the collision, but you took the opportunity to jump all over someone who’s currently in the hospital. you win!

  • Heh, that looks like the car that hit me back when I was 15 years old nearly (*eek!*) 30 years ago. Left cross, bike went under the car, I went up and over into the windshield and landed on my feet. I was a minor so obligatory ER visit, no damage to me, bike was completely wrecked.

    I hope the cyclist is okay.

  • CPhipps

    Very sad to see since I ride through there all the time. I hope the cyclist isn’t hurt too bad.

    We can’t tell who is at fault here, but I have to say that I think riding fixed gear bikes without brakes should be limited to the velodrome. In an emergency situation no matter how skilled the cyclist, you can’t slow down as quickly without brakes.

  • James

    Boggles the mind that Masonic is a recommended bike route.

  • Steve G

    Just want to add: the victim’s brother is wearing a hat, not a helmet. Regardless of who was at fault, from one biker to another, please ride bikes with brakes and wear helmets, people!

  • volker

    Grr. That intersection. I watch for those left turners with eagle eyes – always.

    It’s hard to tell what happened from these photos. Unless the car was driving down the sidewalk where it’s parked in the last photo – then it would definitely be the driver’s faults.

  • Andrew Oakland

    Helmets won’t fix broken infrastructure.

  • andrew

    Lack of brakes is prima favor evidence that the cyclist was careless enough not to follow the vehicle code. If there were no witnesses, that’s certainly relevant.

    Of course his brother seems to have been there. Perhaps he will tell us, truthfullly, who ran the light, because someone did.

    Fixie riders need to be ticketed for endangering the public. Sorry for the lack of compassion.

  • andrew

    Oh, and Streetsblog: if it turns out to be the cyclist’s fault, tell us, k? Don’t just update when the driver is at fault.

  • bmwlover

    Fixie rider: You’re on your own. too bad you can’t learn to ride safely and obey the rules.

    Do us all a favor: get a real bike, with gears and BRAKES.

  • TIMTOWTDI

    Fixies by definition have brakes. The ability to skid the rear tire on a fixie is evidence of such. Basic physics people.

    How anyone has managed to recreate the accident based on the photos is beyond me.

  • Daniel Krause

    Bicycle bridges should be installed at Masonic and at the Stanyan. Sometimes physical infrastructure works a lot better than 1/2 ass fixes and minor design tweaks and signage. If we are going to encourage bike lanes, advocates need to start thinking about more solutions that separate traffic and cars at key danger spots.

    In this case the, the ramps to the bridges have space on each side of both streets to extend out so annoying switch back would not be required. May have impact on aesthetics of the park, but that can be mitigated by with good design. Park preservationists may have a hissy fit, but this infrastructure would save lifes and greatly extend the length of carfee bicyle riding.

  • Susan King

    This is a scary intersection to cross, even with the improvements (which help A LOT). We do not know what happened, whether the cyclist failed to brake (some fixies have a hand brake, fyi) and went into the intersection against the light or whether the car driver turned left on a red arrow. Either way, I hope the cyclist is OK. I also hope the Park Station police step up enforcement on this intersection again soon.

    The other parts of Oak and Fell Masonic intersections are dangerous as well: as mentioned above, pedestrian crossing north/south on the west side of Masonic against two lanes of right turning vehicles and crossing Masonic on Oak and not being seen by vehicles turning left off Oak. Drivers go way too fast, increasing chances of serious injury collisions.

    Oy.

  • Brandon

    @TIMTOWTDI, thats like saying that using a parking brake on a car is a legitimate method of braking. 75% of the braking capacity of a bike is on the front wheel, the rear wheel doesnt have enough traction.

  • Be careful riding. Due to weight transfer, a front brake on a bike or motorcycle becomes 90-100% of your braking force in a panic stop. In extreme braking with a strong front brake, the rear wheel of a motorcycle or bike lifts off the ground leaving no rear wheel traction.

    You can try to counter this weight transfer by sliding back on the saddle to put more weight over the rear wheel/tire. This takes time which you don’t have in a true panic stop. A good front brake used effectively will stop faster. Chains fail, cables fail, cogs unscrew. Having brake redundancy is safer.

  • soylatte

    I can’t believe the douchebaggery of some commenters here. In general the comments section of SB seems on a downward slope. Do we have to thank the collaboration with SFGate for this?

  • Nick
  • TIMTOWTDI

    @Brandon- Thanks for the lesson. But, again, fixies do have brakes. Multiple comments claimed the cyclist had no brakes.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYWhJCzOh7Y

    Your point about the efficiency of rear vs front braking wasn’t yet a topic of consideration.

    But since you brought it up, I bet you didn’t know that ABS significantly improves panic braking stops in automobiles. The automobile pictured in the photos is a compact budget model that offers ABS as an expensive option. So if the Focus happens not to be ABS equipped, would it be fair to say, “Do us all a favor: get a real car, with BRAKES”? Further, ABS is by no means a standard feature of automobiles actually operating on the road. So would you say that any automobile on the road that doesn’t have the most efficient braking system available doesn’t have brakes?

  • I agree with those who think that riding brakeless is dangerous (and from the photos it’s pretty clear that this bike didn’t have a front brake, there is no lever for it and no cable housing), but can we please not pile on to a dude who had to get taken to the hospital because of an accident? Nobody knows who is at fault here. It’s possible to ride very carefully and still get into an accident, especially at this intersection.

  • CPhipps

    TIMTOWTDI – I understand the physics of a fixed gear bike. I own one and have ridden on the velodrome (without hand BRAKES) and on the street (but only with added hand brakes).

    I’m sorry, but the ability to slow yourself down or even stop by applying backward pressure against the pedals (or even skidding by putting your weight forward) is not nearly as effective as having 2 hand brakes.

    Try riding at 25mph and seeing how long it takes to stop with 2 hand brakes vs. how long it takes to stop with just a rear skid on a fixie. It will take over 2 x as long and at least 3 x as far to stop with a fixie without hand brakes.

    Riding a bicycle in traffic is dangerous enough as it is even with dual hand brakes. Decreasing your ability to stop quickly just to be hip is just plain stupid.

  • patrick

    Considering that at this point we have no information of the circumstances of the accident, anybody that is talking about brakes or helmets is merely spreading propoganda about their own personal beliefs.

    A fixed gear is a perfectly legal bicycle, and meets the CVC. We don’t even know who was at fault, much less what technical equipment, if any, could have possibly prevented the accident. If either party involved ran a red light (which seems almost certain), then it’s unlikely any level breaks or a helmet would have prevented the crash. Preventing crashes is what we should be working towards.

    Somebody is possibly hurt, possibly severely, and could potentially die. Let’s keep their tragedy in mind and not use it as an opportunity to promote ones own personal bias.

  • max

    Why are people taking this opportunity to bash fixed gears. This intersection is horribly designed, I’ve stopped tourists from running over babies in strollers there as well as many other confused drivers.

    Quick fix for the very poorly designed bicycle light:

    • Lower it to pedestrian level, its way up in the air with the traffic lights.

    • Make it a white light, drivers see a green light on the left of the road and assume its a green arrow, how’s a tourist supposed to know about some crazy SF bicycle light.

    • Shield the light from cars either with a physical shield or one of those lights that can only be seen head on this way drivers wont even see it changing and they can just look at the red arrow.

    I’ve seen so many close calls at this intersection we need the city to reconfigure the bike light before more people end up in the hospital or worse.

    I’m sure the city will be really happy when they get sued for 10 million dollars after someone’s spouse is killed because of this pathetic attempt to ensure cyclist safety.

    Lets use this accident to get this intersection fixed.

  • Michael Baehr

    LOL, the Stockholm Syndrome in this thread is amazing.

    The facts aren’t even in on this case and you’re already armchair-quarterbacking like a Bikeforums A&S conversation gone mad. Whether or not the cyclist had a front brake may have had nothing to do with the collision at all, yet everybody seems willing to pile in on him. What’s the problem? Are you worried what motorists will think of you?

    You’re no better than the yutz from Boston Globe who blamed a guy’s getting run over by a bus on his lack of a helmet.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2010/05/09/what_cyclists_neglect/?s_campaign=8315

    Geniuses.

  • ZA

    A small request to the French Consulate in San Francisco: *please* share a mandatory cautionary driving and cycling advisory to your visiting citizens.

    A friend of mine shattered her arm two years ago when a French family cycling the wrong way on a street (around a blind corner) in GG Park collided with her. The family was completed distracted, and I’ll wager this driver was too.

    San Francisco just isn’t engineered for distracted people – they hurt and are hurt.

  • suburban-south

    makes me want to take the full lane instead of use a bike lane or ride to the right of the road.

  • JohnB

    Susan

    No, I think you miss the real point. High-speed, high volume auto routes like Fell, Oak and Masonic are always going to be perilous for slow-moving, vulnerable cyclists.

    We need to move the bikes off these “death runs” over to the quiet streets on either side, which seems like a no-brainer to me.

    It seems the cyclist here may have lacked brakes. But the real issue is that we are mixing lions and lambs at this intersection and then wondering why problems occue.

  • nabewise.com is using spammers to junk up our favorite site. noted.

  • Alex

    @TIMTOWTDI Since you brought it up, no ABS does not necessarily shorten the minimum braking distance. There are a number of surfaces (such as gravel, snow, or ice) where ABS will extend the minimum braking distance (NHTSA says about 25% on sand).

    What, you ask, does ABS do? It allows you to retain control over the vehicle’s direction while you’re stopping. In the case of motorcycles, this means control over whether you’re going to flip over the handle bars.

    @ZA I thought that accidents involving bicycles don’t hurt anyone? That’s what all of the bicycle riders who run red lights keep telling me, so it must be true.

  • Skilsy

    More evidence that cars and bikes don’t mix… and that bikes always fare the worst. We’re all guilty of not paying adequate attention at times, whether in control of a car or a bike. So until we have a proper infrastructure, regrettably this kind of thing will increase as cyclist numbers increase on the roads.

    Big bummer for the injured rider and wish him a speedy recovery. It’s no fun going over a car (I speak from experience).

    The lack of front brake could go against the rider in a compensation settlement, if it turns out the car is at fault. Not sure what the precedents are on that. Follow-up info would be interesting.

  • patrick

    @Alex, who is running red lights and then telling you that accidents don’t hurt anyone? I suspect you are making things up.

    And what does any of that have to do with ZA’s comment, or the accident that happened?

  • patrick

    @Skilsy, do you actually know this for a fact, or are you just speculating? As I mentioned before, a fixed gear meets the CVC, so there should be no reason that should affect a settlement unless there is other precedent. Please provide support for your claim, otherwise you are just speading FUD.

  • James

    I don’t know much about the vehicle code, but if putting backwards pressure on pedals to slow or skid the rear tire complies with the CVC, then a car without any actual brakes should be able to comply by simply shifting the car into a lower gear, putting engine drag on the wheels. At least then the braking force would be applied to the front wheels (in a FWD vehicle).

  • patrick

    @James

    “CVC 21201. (a) No person shall operate a bicycle on a roadway unless it
    is equipped with a brake which will enable the operator to make one
    braked wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement.”

    All fixed gear bikes have that capacity.

    That section has nothing to do with cars.

  • Nick

    Bike Nopa has an update on their site. Some of it is unsettling. They’ll consider ticketing the poor cyclist who just got smashed to pieces, but no matter what the driver is not responsible for any of it???

    http://ibikenopa.blogspot.com/2010/05/clear-case-of-bicyclist-at-fault-sfpd.html

  • maaaty

    Thanks, Nick, I read that. I hope the cyclist is recovering well — maybe looking for a job as a stuntman.

    Can you imagine how bad this would have been in the era of shattering windshields? Thanks again to Ralph Nader and his ilk for improving safety standards for automobiles.

  • ryan holman

    I may not be an expert, but it’s quite safe to say that cyclists who ride without brakes are endangering themselves and the general public in the same way that drivers do when they drive around with poorly maintained cars. unless it’s believed that maybe drivers should also just use the parking brake and then stick their foot out the car when at a red light to keep it from rolling away.

    talk about double-standard.

  • ryan – That’s a ridiculous equation. “Endangering themselves and the general public in the SAME way”? Really? I may not be an expert, but cars have an extremely higher capacity to kill the general public than bikes do, and the vast majority of the danger the bike rider is subjected to is from… oh, right, cars.

  • julia

    Nick: If you read the same bikenopa article I did, the cyclist was 100% at fault here. I don’t see why the motorist should get a ticket for the cyclist’s death-wish.

    This is not a helmet issue or a brakes issue or an intersection engineering issue, this is an extraordinarily stupid cyclist issue.

  • andrew

    OK, I just read the Bike Nopa article, which should be required reading.

    WHAT A MORON.

    Not only does this individual turn against the light, he turns against the light into oncoming traffic – and of course he had no brakes. From the blog, the cop’s comments, *emphasis* added:

    “The bicyclist was travelling westbound on Fell Street in the left-side traffic lane,” Ramlan said. “He then made an abrupt left turn from Fell onto the *northbound* lanes of Masonic; he didn’t turn with the light.”

    If you do things like this, you should EXPECT to get hit by cars. And you should also expect to get slammed by your fellow cyclists for endangering yourself and others, and for giving cyclists a bad name.

    And, you should damn well get a ticket. Let’s see, running a red light, wrong way on a two way street, failure to maintain a bicycle with proper brakes, and careless driving sound about right. “We are traffic,” right?

  • patrick

    @ryan

    So far the information we have indicates cyclist error, and has nothing to do with the type of equipment used, or the level of maintenance.

    If you would like to use a car analogy, a brakeless fixie is the equivalent of a sports car. It is perfectly legal, but probably tends to be used by less responsible people.

    Anybody using this accident as an example against fixies or brakeless fixies is merely displaying their ignorance and/or bias.

    @andrew
    the bike had proper brakes, at least as far as California law is concerned.

  • if there were no fixies, we’d rail on bikes with skinny tires. If no skinny tires, on bikes with slicks. Or drop bars. Or recumbents, trailers, tandems, etc…

    There are people out there riding brakeless track bikes who are a heck of a lot safer than some people riding slow clunky mountain bikes with flat bars at 5 MPH (on a sidewalk the wrong way into a crosswalk at night with dark clothes and no lights).

    It might be more likely that someone on a fixie is less likely to be able to handle that bike because that bike is inherently harder to handle. But the indictment is not the bike, it’s a bad personal decision to ride a bike that you can’t handle in a manner that will cause problems.

    This thread might have some value in that one goofball who causes a wreck with a fixie might make life harder for other people. Of course, we’re not talking to anyone who needs to listen. And the relevant car comparison is that drivers who screw up don’t seem to indict the ones that don’t.

  • Rodzzz

    so much ignorance going on here. fixies aren’t illegal; we have no evidence yet of who was at fault here, not every car/bike collision is automatically the cyclists fault because they had the audacity to try and share the same roads as cars. all we can really tell from the photos is that the car struck the biker, not the other way around. and this is an intersection that’s notorious for bike/pedestrians colliding with cars because of the confusing signals.

  • julia

    Rodzzz: read the article. the biker acted illegally and unsafely, causing the accident. the circumstances appear to be undisputed.

  • Nick

    Do the pictures look like the impact of a motorist going over or under the speed limit?

    What’s Masonic now? 25 or 30 mph?

    A “clear case of the cyclist being at fault” is COMPLETE B.S. if the motorist was speeding.

  • maaaty

    I agree, Nick. A lot depends ultimately on the driver’s speed and the cyclist’s speed. On the rare occasions I rent a car, I like to think that by driving at a smart speed I could brake in time before striking almost anything rushing in front of the vehicle. Of course, this instance could be the exception.

  • I honestly don’t understand why brakes are now seen as either unhip or “evil.” It seems to me being able to stop suddenly for a pedestrian, a car, or an animal would be a GOOD thing in a city with lots of hills.

    then again, I also don’t think bicyclists should terrorize people on sidewalks and flip off pedestrians either, but that’s also acceptable in SF…

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