A Bicycle Rider’s Crash on Valencia Street: Was Serious Injury Preventable?

The standard bike lanes on Valencia Street place riders in a dangerous spot right alongside moving cars. Photo: Bryan Goebel

An unidentified man in his late twenties was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital after falling off his bike and being run over by a minivan in the Mission District Wednesday evening.

San Francisco police confirmed the 7:30 pm crash on Valencia Street between 17th and 18th Streets. According to eyewitness Brooke DuBose, the rider was traveling in the bike lane when he appeared to lose control of his bicycle and fall in front of the passing vehicle, which apparently ran over his torso and head. The driver stopped and he and his family were visibly distraught. The victim was wearing a helmet.

“This was one of those situations where nobody was at fault, and even on one of our best bike corridors in the city, the design is still not safe enough,” said DuBose, who works as a bicycle transportation planner.

“When I saw what happened, and how close this person came to dying just bicycling home,” she thought, “we just need to build our streets so much better than they are now.”

The rider appeared to be reaching into his rear pocket when he lost control, said DuBose. Police and ambulances arrived within minutes, and police said a citation was issued to the driver for not having a license. A police spokesperson would only say the man’s condition was “non-life threatening.”

Had a physically separated bike lane been available, this victim probably wouldn’t have been run over. The SF Bicycle Coalition is calling for protected bike lanes on Valencia Street in its Connecting the City campaign.

The victim likely wouldn't be in the hospital had he fallen on a bikeway like this one in Aarhus, Denmark. Photo: Aaron Bialick