Today’s Headlines

  • Governor Vetoes Ammiano Bill for Camera Enforcement at Market/Octavia (SF Examiner)
  • City Planners Present Revised Vision for Fixing Masonic Avenue (BIKE NOPA)
  • 62-year-old Bicyclist Killed by Driver Yesterday in Atherton (BCN via CBS5)
  • Memorial Ride Tomorrow Will Honor Cupertino Bicyclist (Merc)
  • Driver Hits Pedestrian on Portola Drive (SF Examiner)
  • U.S. DOT Awards Ca. High-Speed Rail a $194 Million Grant (AP via Merc)
  • Sacramento Light-Rail Extension Hit with Delays and Potential Cost Overruns (Sac Bee)
  • KALW: “Caltrain Riders Fight for Their Commute” (Interviews w/John Murphy, Shirley Johnson)
  • Muni Drops Fee on Tickets Purchased in Muni Metro Vending Machines (City Insider)
  • “Bikes Versus Cars: Who Pays Their Fair Share? ” (Vancouver Sun)
  • SF Planning Commission to Find a “Development Home for Market’s ‘Orphan Block'” (City Insider)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • Yesterday my husband was hit by a car while he was on his bicycle. In fifteen years of bicycling in this city, this is his third major accident, the second to require a visit to the hospital.

    He’s okay, just bruised, sore, shaken up. A hospital X-ray confirmed no broken bones. However, his heel is so bruised he is unable to walk on it today.

    He was going south on the Embarcadero, a route he regularly takes to commute home from work. There is a bike lane, and the traffic, while heavy, is generally not high speed. He was about to enter the intersection with Mission Street when a car zoomed past him and turned right—right into him. It knocked him clean over, sending him flying onto his back. This was in broad daylight, four o’clock in the afternoon. He was wearing a neon yellow vest.

    The driver of the car was a woman from North Carolina. She was with her adult son in the car. She was extremely apologetic. She said she didn’t see my husband, even though she came from behind him and he must have been in her line of vision. She admitted she was rushing, that she didn’t feel comfortable driving in San Francisco traffic. She felt so badly, in fact, that she drove my husband, who was dazed, in pain, and not a little angry, to the hospital. (Amazingly, his bike fit in the trunk of her car.) I give her multiple gold stars for this.

    Even though I think San Franciscan drivers are getting better at looking out for bicycles, what can be done to protect bicyclists from clueless people from other places? I’ve no doubt this woman was not used to looking for bikes when she makes turns, but the fact was, if she didn’t see my husband, she just as well could not have seen a pedestrian. She was going too fast; she was operating her vehicle unsafely in the conditions of a large congested city.

    I’m trying to think what could have prevented this accident from happening. Possibly serious bicycle infrastructure at intersections like Holland has would have made it impossible for her to take that corner that fast, giving her more time to see the people she was about to squash flat. Possibly laws like they have in both Denmark and Holland that assume a driver is at fault in any car/bike accident (unless there is clear proof otherwise) would have made her more cautious when taking that corner. Possibly making driving and parking in San Francisco so expensive and difficult that, like New York City, tourists from out of town don’t even think about renting a car and content themselves instead with transit and cabs would have prevented her from getting behind the wheel in the first place.

    There is so little consequence to car drivers for their errors, while the consequence for the bicyclist or pedestrian is a trip to the hospital or worse. Maybe pedestrians and bicyclists should be allowed to bike/walk with a hammer, and, if they are hit, take a big swing with it at the offending car. Of course, if they are knocked unconscious, this might not work.

  • taomom, I’m really sorry to hear this. Thankfully he is ok (somewhat).

    I worry about this every day on Embarcadero. I usually am on there going north so I only really have to worry about cabs pulling over, as opposed to south where there are multiple intersections to deal with and many chances for people to do exactly what happened.

    Laws might possibly make a difference, but she is from NC not California. Local knowledge of laws is nearly impossible. So in effect, we need universal laws that transcend state borders.

    Was she driving a rental? Did he report it? Yes, she was nice and all, but that is just another “accident” that won’t go into the stats so hacks like Rob Anderson can claim that the city streets are safe when in fact we aren’t doing nearly enough to protect cyclists and pedestrians.

    I wish him a speedy recovery and thank you for sharing. As someone on that route every day, it serves as a reminder to stay alert and vigilant.

  • @KALW’s Caltrain story: I’m not a choice rider! There is no car waiting for me when Caltrain service disappears.

    But in the same thread, thinking that most riders are “choice” might make them try harder. Muni views their passengers as a problem that just won’t go away, and you can see the service we are all provided because of that.

  • The Embarcadero is potentially one of the easiest streets in the city to make safe for biking: it has no intersecting streets on the bay side, so you can put in a completely separated, two-way cycle track. I know the bike coalition is planning to make it one of the first targets; the only question is how many more people will be injured while we wait for the city to do this obvious implementation

  • SteveS, another thing that should be done along with that project is to continue the bike lane on King between 3rd and 4th. I HATE that you can get so close to the Caltrain station, but you have to ride on the sidewalk the last block because cars start speeding up to highway speed and you get dumped with no lane.

    However, Townsend is coming along nicely when the lane isn’t blocked by double parkers.

  • Alex

    @taomom My condolences. I wonder just how much you can do to prevent out of towners from making stupid mistakes. If memory serves years ago in Marin, a teacher on holiday from Ireland hit and killed someone head on because she was driving on the wrong side of the road. What’s the proper recourse here? Plaster Hwy 1 with “STAY TO THE RIGHT” signs? Sometimes there just isn’t a solution for stupid.

    Even the local yokels do stupid things like passing stopped LRVs. Even with the curbside signs and the (much ballyhooed by the ever flaccid Chu) stickers on the back of the LRVs. I’d love to see more DPT folks out on the street directing rush hour traffic (hey, they’re already all over 1st & Mission and Skyline & whatever)… but hey, who can afford that kind of manpower? OTOH, if there were consistent enforcement of traffic laws in San Francisco perhaps motorists and bicycle wielding folks would at least demonstrate some deference to signage and signals.

    That said, I think that the federal government’s push for mandated graduated licenses is an excellent idea and *first* step… but one that does not go anywhere near far enough. Until there’s a focus on applied driving *skills*, having a driver’s license will mean only that someone knows what the different colored curbs mean.

  • Alex

    Speaking of interesting:

    http://m.sfgate.com/sfchron/pm_21442/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=Wn49ETAU

    Can anyone remember the last time service along Geary was completely shut down? I’d say that’s, what? Three times in the past month where there have been > 60 minute outages in the metro?

    Un-freaking-believable. How long ago did the MTA sign a no-bid contract with Thales to work its voodoo on the ATCS system?

  • EL

    taommm – Sorry to hear about your husband’s accident. Hope he’s OK. It does make you wonder… If a driver doesn’t notice your husband wearing a bright yellow vest in the bike lane that’s right next to their lane, doesn’t a cycletrack make it even harder to see?

  • mikesonn is right. Every state has different bike laws, but relatively standard car laws. That’s a huge problem because people move, travel, roadtrip etc.