Driver Who Killed Bicyclist on Masonic Facing Manslaughter, DUI Charges

Picture_3.pngWhat remained of Nils Linke's bicycle. Photo: CBS5.

A 37-year-old Oakland man has been identified as the driver of a 1989 Mercedes-Benz who allegedly killed 22-year-old Nils Linke of Germany while he was riding his bicycle Friday night on Masonic Avenue near Turk Street, a tragic reminder that the SFMTA needs to act quickly to fix one of San Francisco's most notorious traffic sewers.

SFPD spokesperson Lt. Lyn Tomioka said Joshua Calder faces charges of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI, felony hit-and-run causing death and no proof of insurance. Tomioka wasn't sure if Calder was being held without bail, but he was booked Friday night. Police told the Chronicle he drove away from the scene but was located two blocks from the crash, at Turk and Tamalpais Terrace.

According to CBS5, Calder was traveling southbound on Masonic Avenue around 10:40 p.m. Friday when he hit and killed Linke, who was identified as a tourist. A spokesperson for the German Consulate in San Francisco told Streetsblog Linke had been traveling alone on his visit.

For years now, advocates and residents who live on and near Masonic Avenue have been trying to get the SFMTA to turn Masonic into a complete street, replete with bicycle and pedestrian amenities that would slow traffic, and make it a safer place for everyone. At a recent community meeting, the agency offered four options to do that, including a cycle track.

As Michael Helquist of BIKE NOPA pointed out today, the SFMTA has been hearing loud calls to fix Masonic since 2008 when 500 residents signed a petition citing speed concerns. It was hand delivered to SFMTA Chief Nat Ford.

During a press conference today for new Clipper fare gates, Ford was asked to respond to concerns about Masonic.

"We've put about four options out there now to really look at how to redesign that street," said Ford. "Unfortunately, Masonic could use some traffic calming. I have to be cautious, because you can imagine, this is a very litigious situation. Our hearts go out to the family of the young man who got killed, but we have to also make sure that we're making prudent legal steps going forward in dealing with this issue."

We're attempting to get more details on the victim, the suspect and the growing calls to Fix Masonic. Look for more coverage this week.