Bicyclist Critically Injured in Crash with Truck Driver in SoMa

Photos: Bryan Goebel

A 25-year-old woman riding a bicycle was critically injured in a collision with a food delivery truck at the intersection of Mission and Fremont streets this morning. San Francisco police blamed the bicyclist because investigators determined she was making an illegal left turn onto Fremont, which is prohibited except for taxis and buses.

“All indications show that they both had the green light but this intersection is a no left turn, clearly marked, and she turned left in front of the truck, so that is the primary reason for the accident,” Lt. Troy Dangerfield told reporters. He said the bicyclist was traveling eastbound on Mission Street, and the truck driver was headed westbound around 8:04 a.m.

At the scene, the truck was parked in the crosswalk, and had a shattered windshield and large dent in the front. A white plastic bag kept in place by orange traffic cones covered a pool of blood and one of the victim’s brown shoes. The other shoe was strewn a few dozen feet across the intersection. The twisted white bicycle, which appeared to be a single speed, was taken away for evidence.

Dangerfield said he didn’t know anything about the truck driver, or how fast he was going at the time. He said commercial drivers involved in crashes are routinely tested for drugs and alcohol, but that didn’t appear to be a factor in the crash. The truck is owned by Sunrise Foods based in the East Bay city of Newark.

Police could not immediately identify the bicyclist, describing her only as an Asian woman in her 20s. The SFPD press office had initially said that she died, but retracted the statement to report that “the victim’s status is currently life threatening at the hospital.”

A camera at a nearby business apparently caught the crash on video and Dangerfield said it would be used in the investigation.

Officers hold the victim's bicycle up for an SPFD official taking evidence photos.
The truck's windshield was shattered and it had a large dent on the hood.

 

  • JamesF

    Given the number of times I see cyclists blowing thru red lights and going the wrong way down one-way streets, perhaps the biggest surprise here is that this doesn’t happen more often.

    As I recall, the lasy cyclist fatality was a guy who was riding on the sidewalk and suddenly re-entered the roadway right in front of a passing bus.

    Is there no biker education in SF? Should there be testing, licensing, registration and insurance? Do we need more enforcement of cyclists breaking the law, for their own safety? Will the bike community itself step up and argue for more rigor? Or did these cyclists die or nearly die for nothing?

  • MARSupial_possum

    I can envision what she was doing, according to the photos. This is a common strategy among cyclists. Her snafu, unfortunately, was she misjudged the truck’s distance/speed. 

    It’s easy for me to say “everybody slow down and be patient,” but I’m just a lackadaisical entity. How about those who need to get places on time? Who are confident in speed and strategy? Who always make it or think they can make it?

  • Anonymous

    Troll MOAR?

  • Greg Janess

    This is a tragic accident and is terrible for all involved. The article on sfgate has already been overrun by commenters looking to blame cyclists for everything bad in the world. The truth is that drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians often fail to yield to each other. Incidents like this are a graphic reminder of that fact. Drivers please look out for cyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists please look out for drivers and pedestrians. Pedestrians please look out for drivers and cyclists. Everyone would be better off if we would bother to try a bit of courtesy for each other.

    A bit of food for thought here. I’ve never met a driver who wasn’t a pedestrian. Drivers sometimes will park their cars and walk into a store, or to their desk, or into their living room, …etc. Some drivers even, gasp, ride a bike. All cyclists walk and most drive at least once in awhile. Most pedestrians drive sometimes and many ride bikes.

  • Why is it that SF Streetsblog waited until monday to post anything about the pedestrian in a crosswalk put in the hospital in critical condition on friday? (by a cyclist running through a red light)  Yet a cyclist getting hurt gets a full article with pictures, later the very day that it happened.

  • EL

    One key missing fact from the Streetsblog version of this story is that the cyclist was not wearing a helmet, and that she suffered severe head trauma (see windshield).

  • JamesF

    Greg, Yes, drivers and cyclists need to look out for each other. but NOBODY should be making illegal turns, nor moving in the wrong direction on one-way streets as happened here.

    And while that of course applies to all road users, it is far more important, the smaller and more vulnerable you are. I’d expect a much higher standard ofor bike riding precisely because of the high probability of death in even a relatively low-speed accident.

  • mikesonn

    Always the possibility that Bryan wasn’t available on Friday.

  • EL

    This wasn’t a failure to yield situation.  This was an illegal turn situation.

  • John Smith

    This is an awful tragedy. Lives have been horribly changed forever because of a few seconds of bad decision making.

    But I’m glad you reported it, and noted right away that the cyclist violated traffic laws, which caused this collision.

    Last week a cyclist went through a red light and ran down an elderly female pedestrian and almost killed her, but there was no mention on Streetsblog. Only on Monday was a small link added that read “Bicyclist Hits Pedestrian on Embarcadero, Causing Serious Injuries.” No mention on Streetsblog of the red light violation, the age of the victim, or that she was near death.

    This was a significant story that topped the news everywhere else, and nobody else specializes on transit issues like Streetsblog. But here it was missing, then reported only with important facts omitted.

    Withholding stories where cyclists are in the wrong, and writing misleading headlines, is poor journalism…even for activists.

    I’ve been worried for a while that this site has become so biased that it’s losing credibility. Don’t withhold facts. Don’t withhold stories.

  • JamesF

    Mike, Aaron was top posting on Friday and could have brought our attention to this as well. Or either of them this week, of course.

    You know the real reason, Mike. Don’t play dumb.

  • JamesF

    Agreed, John. It concerns me too and, I believe, many others. Publications have to decide whether to be purely a partisan lobby group OR a credible and objective jouranlistic organ. you can’t be both at the same time. SB seems to sometimes be teetering uneasily between the two, as in the lack of balance in these two stories.

  • Greg Janess

    In response to Logan T Huge:  Streetsblog has a small staff and can’t send a reporter to every incident on the street. They also have no way of knowing about everything right when it happens. It is very sad and unfortunate that the woman was injured so badly. It’s also sad that sfgate.com barely bothered to cover the story. http://goo.gl/JJmVZ

    “All users of the streets should be held accountable for causing needless harm to others.”Bicyclists, motorists and pedestrians need to be reminded on a daily basis of the importance of following rules of the road,” Officer Albie Esparza said. “These rules are there for their safety.”

  • mikesonn

    “Streetsblog is a daily news source, online community and political mobilizer for the Livable Streets movement. We are part of a growing coalition of individuals and organizations in cities around the world working to transform our cities by reducing dependence on private automobiles and improving conditions for cyclists, pedestrians and transit riders.”

  • Greg Janess

    I’m not defending the victim for making an illegal left. I was only commenting on the general attitude out there. Now you will see those who blame her for not wearing a helmet. Like that means she deserved to be injured. Why stop there? Might as well blame her for not staying home today. Or for being a woman. Or? I’m sure the haters will think of something.

  • rc

    A truck killed a person….the downtown core still has no bike infrastructure….Mission Street is a scary mix of trucks buses and private cars weaving between lanes which can make decision making and turns (legal or not) tough for the brave cyclists who choose this option over other poor choices to the north or south.

  • I was one block away from being her this morning…you just never know. So sorry to hear this.

  • At the end of the day, we are all on the same team.

  • Anonymous

    Do they report if pedestrians were wearing helmets when they’re hit by trucks?  Drivers of motor vehicles when they’re injured in collisions?

  • Anonymous

    Do they report if pedestrians were wearing helmets when they’re hit by trucks?  Drivers of motor vehicles when they’re injured in collisions?

  • Anonymous

    Quite apart from the personal responsibility dimension to this unnecessary tragedy, I keep thinking about her choice of Mission St as her route. The clear alternatives are Market (both directions), Howard (westbound), and Folsom (eastbound). I suspect her choice says something about how uncomfortable the Folsom eastbound route is at 8am that she’d rather mix it with vehicles on Mission instead.

  • JamesF

    djconnel, so is your informed analysis that cyclists are at no greater risk than truck drivers? This accident would appear to prove you wrong.

    The helmet or lack of it didn’t cause the accident. That was the cyclist’s illegal turn. The lack of a helmet made the result much worse.

    Nobody is credibly blaming any other factor other than those two at this point.

  • Easy

    I don’t understand how the “illegal turn” is relevant to this, since it’s only illegal for some classes of vehicle.

    Is the implication that the oncoming truck knew turns weren’t allowed for bikes, so didn’t expect her to turn? That seems unlikely. Or is the implication that the turn is only safe for taxis and buses, but not cars or bikes? That also seems unlikely. Most likely is that this is an “illegal turn” only in that the city does not want private vehicles doing it for traffic flow reasons.

    Failure to yield due to not estimating the truck’s speed or distance correctly seems to be the cause.

    Just because you happen to be doing something illegal doesn’t automatically make it a cause. For example, if I’m driving and speeding, and get hit from behind, my speeding was not the cause!

  • justin

    @c5025cd2fcd80e8fcd4641a55d4da036:disqus Streets have simply been designed and used in a backward fashion that reminds me of mutually assured destruction. Case in point: many people expect the most vulnerable users (peds, bikers, motorcyclists even) to exercise the most caution. (Unlike on the water where motor boats are supposed to yield to sail boats and all boats yield to swimmers/divers.)

    Everyone has a responsibility to themselves and society to think and then act reasonably (likely by following the law), but usually those with the most (horse)power are held to a higher standard…

  • mikesonn

    JohnB, Aaron only posted the morning headlines on Friday.

  • There is no conspiracy here to omit stories about bicyclists or pedestrians being injured, no matter what the circumstances. It’s a resource issue. We don’t the staff to cover every crash. I thought about doing a story about the bicyclist who injured the pedestrian on Monday but by that time it had been heavily covered and I decided to direct our resources elsewhere. We have done quite a few stories about pedestrians being injured, and I have not ruled out the possibility that we will do a follow-up on last week’s crash.

  • JamesF

    Easy, actually there is a body of Case Law that says that if you’re acting illegally, then any civil claim you make may be rebuttably denied.

    One case I know of involved a vehicle that, while reversing from a driveway, hit a vehicle going the wrong way down a one-way street.

    The hit vehicle made a claim and the Judge tossed it out, by virtue of the fact that you should not be able to profit from illegal acts.

  • Easy makes a really important point. The turn being “illegal” had nothing to do with this crash. The only reason left turns are not allowed there is because when a car turns left they would hold up the traffic behind them. This is not just at Fremont but for other streets such as 3rd & Mission. Taxis and buses have an exemption not because of any safety related issues, but because the city is trying to promote such uses over private automobiles. Having taxis and buses hold up traffic is not considered to be as detrimental.

    The real issue is failure to yield by the bicyclist. But don’t ever expect to have the trolls understand this difference.

  • EL

    Even if the turn was legal, the bike/bus/taxi is required to yield to the oncoming truck.  The relevance of the “illegal turn” is that the cyclist wasn’t even supposed to turn here all.

    In your driving and speeding example, your speeding was not the cause.  But your speeding could be a contributing factor if, after you were hit, had collided with someone/something else.

  • Anonymous

    The lack of a helmet made the result much worse.

    [citation needed – no article indicates the victim suffered a head injury]

  • mikesonn

    murph,

    http://sfappeal.com/news/2011/07/pedestrian-struck-by-delivery-truck-at-mission-and-fremont.php

    “The woman, who was not wearing a helmet, suffered a serious head injury along with injuries to her body and was taken to San Francisco General Hospital”

  • JamesF

    Mike, you’re right, the victim’s head injury and lack of helmet has been widely reported. I guess Murph hasn’t been following the story that closely, but thought he’d opine anyway.

  • John Smith: “Last week a cyclist went through a red light…but there was no mention on
    Streetsblog.”

    On average in San Francisco 800 pedestrians are hit by motorists each year, nearly 3 per day.  It is silly to complain about just one bicycle:pedestrian accident not being covered by Streetsblog.   What is notable about that one bicylist:pedestrian accident is its rarity compared with the motorist:pedestrian accidents in San Francisco.

  • mikesonn

    SF Appeal is the ONLY source that I found that mentioned that though. I doubt you read SF Appeal. Don’t get all high and mighty. You still need to link your sources.

  • EL

    Sorry to disappoint you mikesonn, but I found out reading SF Appeal.

    And since the “today’s headlines” page on Streetsblog specifically links the SF Appeal version, there’s no reason why that information wasn’t in the Streetsblog version of the story, or why the Streestblog version hasn’t since been added/updated accordingly.

  • JamesF

    Michael,

    El is correct. A driver is not expecting to see a road user in a place where he or she is not supposed to legally be. That applies whether it’s a red light violation, going the wrong way down a one-way street or, as here, making an illegal turn. The law is very clear about that, and significantly NOBODY here is blaming the truck driver.

    Oh, and why does believing the cyclist was at fault here automatically make someone a “troll”? Can you explain that prejudicial inference?

  • mikesonn

    EL, I was talking to JohnB, my mistake for not stating that explicitly.

    I’d suggest emailing Bryan if you’d like the story updated, his email is available on the sidebar.

  • 800 pedestrians/cyclists are not put in the hospital with life threatening injuries by private automobiles on a yearly basis.  That 800 number is of total collisions, do you really think there are only a couple of collisions a year due to negligent cyclists?  The Bay Citizen has a map that clearly refutes such assertions.

  • Odm2

    Logan, the 800 people hit by cars is a pretty widely reported statistic. According to your cited Bay Citizen Bike Accident Tracker, 13 bicycle violations of pedestrian right-of-way were reported over a period of four years. Can you say when the last pedestrian was killed by a bicycle in San Francisco?

  • Logan T Huge: “800 pedestrians are not put in the hospital…The Bay Citizen clearly refutes.”

    http://www.baycitizen.org/transportation/story/citys-pedestrian-crash-toll-dwarfs-costs/

    The Bay Citizen describes the huge toll of injures to pedestrians among these 800 accidents, $76 million bill for the injuries.  Clearly, there is a huge problem of motorists injuring and killing pedestrians.  A problem which dwarfs the rarity of a pedestrian being injured by a bicyclist.  (Yes that happens too, but it doesn’t change the big problem which is motorists killing/injuring San Francisco pedestrians.)

  • TN

    I’m now over 60 and am mostly a pedestrian who walks over 5 miles a day. (I also ride.)

    The issue of bicyclists colliding with pedestrians is a big issue for me personally. I’m in good shape generally and am very alert. But as quick as my perception is, my muscles don’t perform any where near as quickly as they used to. So, I find it difficult to be as quick in dodging cyclists as I used to be. Also the consequences of falling on the street become more severe as one ages. I’m not as flexible and my joints are stiffer. My wife stumbled and fell on the street a few years ago and has had two major hip surgeries to cope. Even older people are at risk of dying from these types of injuries.

    You’ll notice that in both this current incident and the one reported on February 18, 2011 (at Mission and Silver), both the victims were women over 60. The physical consequences for them were severe.

    Yes, it is true that more cars hit walkers than bicyclists. And generally cause more severe injuries or deaths.  But what gets people upset is the tone of some of the chatter on the net coming from cycling activists that because there are more cars hitting pedestrians, that bicyclists hitting pedestrians isn’t worth noticing. One sometimes gets the feeling that some bicyclists feel that making pedestrians feel threatened or even actually bumping one inadvertently isn’t a big deal. Well, it is big deal for the pedestrians.

    I think that the issue is one of respect. For many reasons, pedestrians don’t feel that they get much respect from some cyclists.

    You’ll note that Streetsblog didn’t cover the February 18 accident either.

  • Do you mean that you took an illegal left turn without yielding to oncoming traffic as required, one block away?  Maybe this accident should be a wake up call to stop.

  • No, a biker killed herself.  The truck driver is not at fault.  Even if all the tripe about brave cyclists is true, we can hardly expect this truck driver to be responsible for SF infrastructure.

  • Yada yada.  Talking “policy” and “theory” is fine and good.  But in this particular incident, the accident was caused by the biker taking an illegal left turn and failing to yield to oncoming traffic.  It was the biker’s fault.  No statistic about 800 car accidents or whatever will change that.  Accept and move on.

  • Justin, where have you ever seen a pedestrian or biker have to (1) take an eye test, (2) obtain insurance, and (3) take a written and road test in order to bike or walk?  The law expects EVERYONE to obey the rules and EVERYONE to be cautious.  If anything, drivers are subject to more scrutiny.  Bigger the vehicle, the more tests you have to take.

  • That’s what they do in Davis, where there are lots of bikers.  I have had friends get tickets for (1) not having a bicycle license plate and (2) not having mud flap (yeah, really!).

  • mikesonn

    She didn’t die.

  • Easy

    Hi JamesF, do you really believe that if this turn was legal that the collision would have been avoided? If so, by what mechanism? I can’t see any in this situation. 

    Thus I don’t see the relevance of the turn being illegal.Except that it’s more black-and-white to call out the bicyclist for making an illegal turn than it is to say they misjudged the speed and/or distance of the truck. That would of course call into question the safety of the streets even for those that never break a law.

  • JamesF

    Easy, since I wasn’t there, I can’t know exactly what caused this accident. My point was more a legal one – if you’re doing something illegal then that severely limits any remedy you may have under the law insofar as the accident was otherwise the other guys’ fault.

    But if I know that only cabs and buses can be in a specific place then I’m probably not looking out for bikes there. They’re much smaller and harder to see.

    Yes, no doubt you’re right, and the cyclist compounded her error with misperceptions and misjudgments about the flow of prevailing traffic.

    But if she’d stayed within the law, she’d have been just fine.

  • Anonymous

    It’s a good question, but maybe she was going to someplace right on that corner so was only on Mission just for a bit. If you’re going somewhere on Mission, eventually you have to get on Mission ….

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