Anger Follows William Cox’s Violent Death on the Streets of Duboce Triangle

William Cox was walking in this crosswalk Tuesday morning, just like this man, when he was run over and killed by an SUV driver. Residents say the intersection of 14th Street and Noe has long been a trouble spot. Photo: Bryan Goebel

On most recent mornings, 59-year-old William Cox walked several blocks from his Mission District apartment to the bustling Peet’s store on Market Street in the Castro for his daily dose of coffee, crossword puzzles and conversation. He had given up his Jeep Cherokee shortly after moving to San Francisco from San Rafael two-and-half years ago and got around mostly on foot and transit. On Tuesday morning, he paid a visit to his best friend, David Douma, who lives across the street from Peet’s.

“Around 9 a.m. he would usually ring my phone to announce he was at my front door, and then he would hang out in my apartment for awhile, every day,” said Douma.

On this day, Cox — known to his friends as Bill — arrived early, around 8:24 a.m., because he was scheduled to help a friend who lives near Ocean Beach move some large musical equipment. It was in his nature, said Douma, to always offer help when a friend needed it. He didn’t stay as long as he usually did, and left a half-cup of coffee behind. Cox then stopped at nearby Rosenberg Deli, Douma later confirmed, before embarking on the four-block walk up Noe Street to catch the N-Judah train.

Sadly, he never made it.

According to San Francisco police, Cox was in the crosswalk on 14th Street at Noe around 10:39 a.m. when he was run over by an unidentified driver behind the wheel of a Ford SUV who had been southbound on Noe, and was making a left turn onto 14th. Cox underwent two operations and despite the best efforts of trauma surgeons at San Francisco General Hospital was pronounced dead at 5:36 p.m., becoming the 10th pedestrian to be killed on the streets of San Francisco this year.

“The surgeons told us that not only was he hit, but he was injured from head to foot. He was completely run over,” said Douma, who was listed as the emergency contact, and spent the afternoon at the hospital with his husband, Claude Wynne, and some of Cox’s roommates and closest friends.

Police said the driver stopped, and cooperated with police, but was not cited or arrested. Details about the driver were not made available.

“We don’t usually release that kind of information,” said SFPD Sgt. Michael Andraychak. The investigator handling the case, Inspector Clifford Cook, would only confirm that the driver was a male and that there were witnesses. He referred Streetsblog’s calls to SFPD public affairs and said he was still in the process of conducting the investigation and it would be up to the District Attorney to decide whether charges would be filed.

‘A Gentle Man’

2008 photo of William Cox courtesy of David Douma and Claude Wynne.

When Douma first met Cox at a bar in SoMa a few years ago “he was coming out of his shell.” As Douma tells it, Cox had been in a long-term relationship with a man suffering from pancreatic cancer and had served as his partner’s full-time caregiver until his death. Cox then decided to move to San Francisco.

Although Cox had a hearing problem and other disabilities, Douma said “he flat out refused to consider himself a handicapped person.” Douma bristled at the suggestion made in some media reports that hearing had anything to do with Cox’s death: “There is no excuse for a left-hand turning vehicle to clobber a pedestrian in the crosswalk.”

Cox wore a small hearing device and “it was amazing what that man could hear with that little thing.” Douma recalled that when he and Cox would go into cafes or bars with loud “boom, boom” music, which he has a very low tolerance for, “Bill would would just reach in his pocket, turn down his device, give me an impish grin and stick his tongue out at me.”

Douma said those who knew Cox, including the regulars and some of the staff at Peet’s, were terribly saddened to hear the news of his death. Gentle was the common word members of the congregation at St. Giles Episcopal Church in Moraga used to describe Cox, who was a volunteer greeter and usher and attended services there on a semi-regular basis, Douma said.

The parish priest said in a newsletter that he was “a gentle spirit who was extraordinarily kind and self-sacrificing ” while a member of the choir described him as “the perfect gentleman.”

Last night, according to Douma, Cox’s two older brothers, Clyde and Darrel, arrived in San Francisco from Hawaii.

A senior (pictured behind the white car) stepped off the curb, and into the crosswalk, but was forced to stop as a driver ignores the pedestrian right-of-way and speeds through the crosswalk. Photo: Bryan Goebel

A Troubled Intersection

Fourteenth Street at Noe is a four-way intersection with stop signs, and sits at the bottom of a hill, surrounded by Victorian homes and apartments, landscaped sidewalks with street furniture and tall trees, and Davies Medical Center. The famed Duboce Park, with its renovated playground, is just one block away, and McKinley Elementary School is a block up the hill at 14th and Castro.

When I visited the intersection yesterday afternoon, I encountered large volumes of walkers that reflected the neighborhood’s diverse population: a group of schoolchildren, medical staff from the hospital, seniors with armfuls of orchids, mothers pushing strollers and neighbors carrying satchels of produce from the Castro Farmer’s Market at Noe and Market. At the same time, I witnessed drivers who blew through the intersection, many talking on their cell phones or texting.

“It’s like everybody’s racing to the next stop sign as fast as they can,” said Emma, a resident who lives near the northeast corner. “It’s stupid. I hear a lot of honking and there’s a lot of traffic.”

According to the SFMTA, the traffic volume on the street is about 4,500 vehicles per day. Many drivers are rushing to the freeway. It’s been a known problem area and residents have been fighting to get traffic calming measures in place, said Peter Cohen, who sits on the board of directors of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association. Although ladder crosswalks were recently striped, something that took several months to get, a frustrated Cohen said a lot more needs to be done.

“I’m pretty grumpy about the whole situation and it’s really tragic that someone was killed because we raised this issue several years ago,” said Cohen, who lives just a half-block down and walks through the intersection daily with his children. “The intersection of 14th and Noe and 14th and Duboce are really pedestrian hazard intersections, and it seems like it’s not even really an issue for the city.”

Drivers like to speed down the hill on 14th Street at Noe.
A group of schoolchildren near the crosswalk where Cox was killed.

Cohen said he pointed out to the SFMTA that there is a lot of high-speed traffic coming down the hill on 14th, and felt as if the agency shunned his requests to implement more traffic calming measures. He suggested removing some of the parking around the intersection to daylight it, and get rid of some of the blind spots that currently exist for drivers.

“How many deaths do we have to see for the city to get serious about committing resources to making it safer to walk?” said Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk San Francisco. “Drivers frequently fail to stop at 14th. It runs like a mini-freeway through a quiet neighborhood. We know how to calm these streets and save lives. The city needs to commit to fixing a certain number of miles of these dangerous streets every year.”

For Douma, and Cox’s close circle of friends, the sadness is mixed with anger. Douma, who used to live on 14th Street and said he was “almost clobbered by drivers a few times,” is furious the driver wasn’t arrested.

“Just on the basis of the fact that that vehicle hit and ran over Bill, the driver should have been detained and arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter, and sort it out later,” he said. “By not detaining that driver now there’s the window of not taking responsibility for one’s actions.”

“And I’m not a conservative,” Douma continued, “I’m a bloody bleeding heart liberal but there are just some things that have to do with justice and doing right by other people that get triggered when something like this happens, and this is a case.”

  • I bike through this intersection 2 to 3 times a week.  It is a freaking four way stop.  How can you get going fast enough to kill someone twenty feet after you’ve just come to a complete stop?

    The current street design says:

    –People driving through this neighborhood are more important than people walking through this neighborhood.
    –People driving through this neighborhood are more important than people biking through this neighborhood.
    –People driving through this neighborhood are more important than people living in this neighborhood.
    –People driving through this neighborhood are more important than people dying in this neighborhood.

    Put in street humps, lots of them. Lower the traffic speed to 20 mph. There is no reason anyone who chooses to cut through this neighborhood should be able to go fast enough to kill someone.

  • Caleb

    Agreed Completely.  Also, 14th Street does not need to have 2 lanes eastbound from there.  More lanes just encourage drivers to go too quickly.

  • It is pretty bad. Many drivers don’t see pedestrians crossing the opposite way in that same sidewalk, because they approach the intersection from downhill and can’t see until the pedestrian is stepping in front of them. Duboce & Noe and Duboce & Scott can also be pretty scary.  I think eliminating one of those eastbound lanes and using the space for a turn lane for those three blocks (like what was done with 25th Ave in the Richmond) would help a lot.

    And then there’s this crap: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIAHAC48glI&feature=related

  • Masonic will be the death…

    This is really sad and frustrating. As Karen noted after a four way stop how on earth can a driver accelerate fast enough to not only miss seeing a pedestrian in a crosswalk, in broad daylight, but then hit someone with enough force to kill?

    The driver didn’t stop, that is how.This intersection like many other four way stops in this city have turned into high speed chess games where drivers try to calculate if the cross traffic is going to stop so that they won’t have to. Unfortunately too many cyclists do the same thing at this intersection as well. My heart goes out to William’s friends and family, what a sad waste of human life.And yet again the driver goes free with nothing but personal guilt for murdering another person with the auto they obviously were not acting responsible enough to operate.

  • Anonymous

    A contributing factor to this accident was probably the trees in median on the north side of the intersection. This is what the driver would have seen just before turning right: http://g.co/maps/thx8x

    Remember the driver would have had a lower view than the Google Maps van. Easy for a distracted driver to miss a pedestrian stepping out into the crosswalk on the left.

    Coming here from the UK I think the number one most dangerous aspect of US street design is the fact that drivers are allowed to park right up to the pedestrian crosswalk at intersections, reducing visibility of hazards for both drivers and pedestrians. In the UK you must not park within 10 meters (32 feet) of the crosswalk, and this zone is marked with white zig-zag lines.

    The second most dangerous is the fact that cars are allowed to turn across the path of crossing pedestrians even when they have a walk signal. In the UK most lights have three phases- one for each direction of traffic and then one for all directions of pedestrians. This minimizes pedestrian/auto conflict at the expense of making everyone wait a little longer. Note that this implies no right turn on red, everywhere.

    Neither of the above issues necessarily contributed to this accident but both are indicative of poor street design which contributes to pedestrian deaths.

  • Peter Kupfer

    I cross this intersection several times a day to take my dog to and from Duboce Park and it is often a frightening proposition. Sadly, someone has now paid with their life for this dangerous situation. It is inexcusable that the city does not install a traffic light or some other traffic calming device?

  • mikesonn

    Yes, but not if the driver actually stopped at the stop sign, as crazy of a notion as that is.

    This is what the driver would have seen if they stopped and looked, like we all learn to do in driver’s ed.
    http://g.co/maps/6mv4c

  • Stu Chuang Matthews

    Things like daylighting won’t make a significant impact in pedestrian deaths. The heart of the problem is people using two ton hunks of metal to transport themselves around the city. We have to drastically lower the number of drivers on our city streets. Some ideas on how to accomplish this:
    – make licensing requirements remarkably more strict
    – make MUNI free and install many more street car lines so people will actually want to use it over driving
    – install 10x the number of cycletracks and bike lanes than we currently have to encourage biking over driving
    – do whatever radical improvements we need to make walking more appealing
    – charge $10 to drive into the city
    – aggressively ticket people for parking on the sidewalk and bike lane

    And if all of these still don’t get people to stop driving, then we just need to ban driving. Really, it is inhumane and not worth it.

    Also, why have two of the commenters brought up biking? A man got murdered by a SUV driver and we’re using it as an excuse to bash on bikers?

  • Betty Levitin

    It is likewise inexcusable that the driver was not cited as soon as it was determined that Bill Cox was in the crosswalk. The law is plain: Cal. Vehicle Code Sec. 21950. (a) The driver
    of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the
    roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at
    an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter. (b) The
    provisions of this section shall not relieve a pedestrian from the duty
    of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian shall suddenly
    leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of
    a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian
    shall unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked
    crosswalk. (c) The provisions of subdivision (b) shall not relieve a driver
    of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any
    pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk
    at an intersection.

  • Betty Levitin

    The person in the white car in the front of that Google Maps picture would have had a completely clear, unobstructed view of the crosswalk in which Bill Cox was walking. Unless they weren’t looking in that direction. The white car in front of it, not the Google van’s view, is the important point of view.

  • Anonymous

    Horrible tragedy. As someone who regularly walks and rides through this intersection, I feel tremendously for this person and am sorry to hear about yet another life taken in the name of the almighty car.

    As others have pointed out, I have no idea how you can hit someone crossing in a crosswalk at a 4-way stop hard enough to kill them … unless you are blowing through the intersection. And as @0206fb364172bf8fd8435eb444500b6d:disqus pointed out: it’s ridiculous that we use such enormous vehicles with so much power and weight and which completely dull the senses of their drivers to get around solo in a city of pedestrians and bicyclists. Insane even. We are so addicted to the car and making sure this method of transit has priority over even the basic safety of other road users, that we can’t even think straight about how our cities should be designed. In the long-term, we just need to get people out of their cars, especially in a city like SF. We need to start designing our city so that driving is disincentivized. But this is all long-term ….

    Short-term, daylighting seems like an easy thing to do that certainly can’t hurt (even if it’s not the root cause of this accident). And not just at this intersection, but all. I also think speed bumps are very helpful. I don’t just mean those wide gradual ones, but the short and steep ones that are on, for example, Fair Oaks St in Noe Valley between 24th and 23rd Sts — you can’t go faster than 5-10 mph without completely bottoming out your car on those. These things seem like no-brainers and are such low-hanging fruit … but I’m sure it will take years for anything like this to happen.

    Also, we need cops out prioritizing the enforcement of traffic laws with regards to cars, especially speed limits and stopping at intersections with stop signs and red lights. And if SFPD complains they don’t have enough cops to do this (which is probably true), then we the citizens needs to pay the taxes it requires so they can actually do their job. We have created a culture where it’s unofficially acceptable to “accidentally” kill someone with your over-sized car because we prioritize the driver’s efficiency over the efficiency and — most importantly — safety of all other road users. This is what you get. I’m fairly certain this driver didn’t mean to injure let alone kill anybody, but they are just used to doing what everybody does and what is entrenched in our society: get in their car and only think about themselves and how quickly they want to get someone, to hell with everybody else (even other car drivers).

  • Anonymous

    Sure, if the driver stopped at the stop line. Most people are assuming that he didn’t, and I think that’s a fair assumption. If the driver didn’t stop his view would have been blocked by the tree, and he may not have seen the pedestrian until after he had made the turn. A median encourages drivers to look straight ahead rather than trying to see through it.

    Should the driver have stopped and looked both ways before turning left? Absolutely. Is the driver the person at fault here? Almost certainly. But in designing roads we should make it as easy as possible for everyone to see everyone else, so the chances of collision are reduced even if someone does break the rules.

    The white car is already on the crosswalk and therefore a little past the stop line. The view I linked to is a little behind the stop line. Unfortunately there’s no Google Maps view exactly on the stop line.

  • Meowmix

    Arrest the reckless driver now.

  • The Greasybear

    14th Street was a relatively calm two-way residential street on both sides of its intersection with Market Street until about five years ago, when it was converted east of Market into a one-way car sewer for freeway-bound motorists. This senseless killing is  an urgent reminder that cars should not be the focus of our street design, that automobile traffic needs to be calmed and reduced through our residential neighborhoods, and that SFPD needs to stop coddling the most harmful of all road users. There is no way that motorist did not break at least one law, as evidenced by the dead pedestrian in the crosswalk under its oversized wheels.

  • Gneiss

    I can’t believe that the police let this driver leave in their vehicle.  At the very least, it should have been impounded as potential evidence in a criminal investigation. 

    In addition, why can’t we immediately revoke a driver’s license after a motor vehicle death prior to a criminal investigation? Driving is not a right enshired in the constitution, but a privilege extended by the state.  If a pilot or a licensed operator of heavy machinery (which lets face it, SUVs are) was involved in a death while operating their equipment they wouldn’t be able to engage in those activities “pending an investigation”.  The same should apply to cars.  In San Francisco, the police have great latitute enforcing some of our state and federal laws because of local ordinances and customs.  Shouldn’t there be local ordinances passed to do the same with private vehicle collisions?

  • Masonic will be the death…

    “distracted driver” is not an excuse. If people want the privilege of driving, than pay the F&*k attention to driving and be responsible. No number of trees in a median, or anything else can excuse running, or accelerating through a four way stop intersection with enough speed to kill a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

  • Davistrain

    “Make drivers licensing….more strict”: good idea, maybe use Germany for an example, but the auto industry would exert covert pressure against it–don’t want to lose any customers.
    “…more streetcar lines..: As an electric railway enthusiast, I would second that
     motion, except that getting anything built in SF (or anywhere else in the US) is a major struggle with fundraising, NIMBY opposition, environmental impact studies, etc. etc.  As far as making Muni fare-free, there’s a whole website devoted to the concept of free transit, but the idea has a number of flaws that I won’t go into right now.  It’s already fare-free in some areas where the local hooligans get on board without paying, and the driver (sensibly) doesn’t challenge them. 
    Ban cars entirely?  Nice idea, go back to before the Earthquake when those new-fangled gas buggies were a novelty, not a menace.  Require all visitors to park at the Colma BART station and ride the train to the City (SF moved all its dead people to Colma, why not keep the motorists there too?) 

  • A man got murdered by an irresponsible user of our shared roads.  Just because this death was caused by an SUV doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be addressing all the pedestrian hazards this neighborhood faces.

  • Masonic will be the death…

    @00448e62705d2dfbb955feb4732e7b54:disqus 

    It almost seems like SFPD are actively avoiding citation issuance. No matter how blatant the offense or tragic results.The exception being the highly publicized selective enforcement for a week here and there that does nothing. The police just don’t want to be bothered with defending the citation in court. Yet another example of the SFPD’s continual focus on enforcement through attrition. What are we to expect the SFPD barely investigates anything including murders, unless of course one should take place in one or two very select “important” neighborhoods.

    The result is aggressive drivers who have no fear of legal repercussion for violating almost any traffic law.

    I am curious when DUI’s will no longer be an offense worth citation.

    Welcome to the 21st century traffic violation, and small crime in general, free for all that is San Francisco. Sad and frustrating.

  • mike

    Before that project, 14th St east of Market was two lanes eastbound and one lane westbound. With that project, 14th is now two lanes eastbound with a bike lane eastbound added. That project did not increase capacity of the street heading toward the freeway (there was very little westbound traffic so we cannot say that opposing traffic somehow slowed eastbound traffic or affected its capacity on 14th). Let’s try to find out the real reason why this crash happened.

  • Sophie

    Sounds as though you are a cyclist.  Do you know how many cyclists hit and cause accidents also?  They do not follow traffic laws either.

  • Chris

    Maybe if our neighborhood police spent less time doing sting operations on bicyclists and more time policing California stops, this would be avoided.  Twice this summer (https://plus.google.com/113540814311839519026/posts/etYeEH5GcBZ?hl=en) I’ve seen concerted efforts to pull over and cite wiggle cyclists who run stop signs – which they shouldn’t, of course, but such action is presumably a lot less harmful than, say, a vehicle doing the same. When I asked one officer why he was spending so much time citing cyclists while ignoring the person who cruised through a stop sign and ignored me (a pedestrian with babies) in the crosswalk, the officer (very nicely, not defensively, despite my anger at having nearly been sideswiped right in front of him) said ‘Talk to the captain, this is what we’re assigned to do based on neighborhood complaints. Complain about an intersection, and we’ll be out there, I guarantee it.’  [paraphrased, but accurately. Again, a very nice officer doing his job.]Well, Captain O’Leary, I’ll complain (sadly, too late for this pedestrian). It’s not rocket science: At 14th & Noe, 14th and Sanchez, and the intersection at Duboce Park Cafe – you could single handedly solve the city’s budget deficit AND stop people from treating stop signs like pause signs. And maybe prevent this sort of tragedy.Chris- I cruise through stop signs. Ticket me. I deserve it. 

  • Anonymous

    There is no reason a driver looking out the windshield would have not seen a pedestrian in the crosswalk, tree or no tree, and the fact that he completely ran over the victim would indicate that he hadn’t even applied the brakes when he hit him.  I hope that the police are going through his cell phone records because odds-on he was texting or fiddling with his stereo.

    This is the worst intersection in Duboce Triangle.  14th needs to be narrowed to 2 narrower lanes, and pedestrian bulb-outs on 14th are needed to shorten the crossing distance.  Traffic calming all around is needed b/c the hundreds of peds who walk on Noe every day need to have the same calm experience crossing 14th as they would have crossing Noe.

    MTA needs to start prioritizing pedestrian and bicycle safety over facilitating moving more cars around faster.  This is our neighborhood and this tragedy underlines the dangers of this intersection.

  • Masonic will be the death…

    I hate to burst you bubble but a one off poorly planned event is hardly relevant to the incident that took place. 

    While the MASH race was a pretty dumb idea, I don’t see any pedestrians being hit, or even endangered in your linked video.

    I do on the other hand regularly see 2500-5000 lb vehicles pull the same basic stunts multiple times a week at this intersection. I would probably see more of them if I had time to stand around and watch, but I unfortunately see too many as it is, just riding through. 

    Prop up that straw man and kicks it ass, but it doesn’t change the reality that auto drivers throughout this city en mass act worse than those kids an a daily basis with far more deadly results.

    Funny how it always comes down to people trying to prop up a cyclist misbehaving to justify an auto driver misbehaving with deadly consequence.

  • jazznjavasf

    This driver, as well as the bicylist responsible for the pedestrian death on The Embarcadero earlier this year, received no citations.

    California Vehicle Codes state:

    21971.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any person who violates subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 21451, subdivision (b) of Section 21453, subdivision (a) of Section 21950, or Section 21952, and causes the bodily injury of anyone other than the driver is guilty of an infraction punishable under Section 42001.18.

    Legislative Declaration: Pedestrians
    21949.  (a) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that it is the policy of the State of California that safe and convenient pedestrian travel and access, whether by foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller, be provided to the residents of the state. C Section 21950 Right of Way at Crosswalks
    Right-of-Way at Crosswalks 21950.  (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter. (b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk. (c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian. (d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection—- interesting that the dirver who hit Reese Witherspoon on the same day, in the same state, received a citation:

    SANTA MONICA, California — Oscar-winning actress Reese Witherspoon had some real-life drama of her own when she was hit by a 1985 Toyota sedan driven by an 84-year-old woman while jogging Wednesday at 11:14 a.m. in a residential area of Santa Monica, California.
    The female driver is an 84-year-old Santa Monica resident. She was traveling southbound on 20th Street at about 20 mph. and struck Witherspoon, who was jogging westbound on Georgina Avenue through the intersection at 20th Street.
    The driver of the Toyota was released after being cited for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Alcohol was not suspected as a factor.
    “Ms. Witherspoon was within a portion of the intersection considered a crosswalk. This is a residential neighborhood and most crosswalks are not marked like business districts,” Santa Monica Police Sgt. Richard Lewis told Inside Line. “The weather conditions were sunny and clear.”
     Additionally : 
    The 84-year-old driver who hit Reese Witherspoon this week while the actress was jogging in Santa Monica, Calif.,  has 30 days to sign up for a driver’s license re-test with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
    A police department spokesman said drivers involved in collisions may be required to take a driving test to show they have the adequate skills and knowledge of traffic rules to be safe on the road. While drivers of any age may have to take the test, depending on the judgment of officers at the accident scene, the driver’s age in this case played a part in the decision, police said.
     

  • Anonymous

    Regarding citation issuance, check out the explanation that SFPD Capt. Al Casciato, head of traffic company, gave Streetsblog a few weeks ago:
    “Some of the officers have special training, especially reconstructionists, that’s why we have a major accident investigative team called MAI (Major Accident Investigation). And they’re trained, and they go out with the total station and they take all the measurements and recreate it, and everything else like that. The reason we normally do not cite is because if you issue a citation you muddy up the District Attorney’s case for issuing a charge of vehicular manslaughter, or something like that, whatever the criminal charge is going to be.”
    (from http://sf.streetsblog.org/2011/08/31/streetsblog-interview-sfpd-captain-al-casciato-head-of-traffic-company/ )
    In short, there are solid reasons why police don’t cite on the scene. It does *not* mean the driver won’t be brought up on charges. It means they’re giving the DA wide latitude to decide just what can be proven and how serious the charges should be.

  • Prinzrob

    @Jeff McC
    Some people are just selfish and irresponsible road users no matter what type of vehicle they choose. However, I would much rather deal with this type of person on a 30 pound bike than in a 3000+ automobile, and I believe that our law enforcement and city planning should reflect this concept as well. To deny this is to deny plain traffic fatality statistics, and physics.

  • SanFranciscan

    The street is as wide as a highway.  No wonder cars drive so fast.  Give the houses their front yards back, and reduce the width of the street to feel less like a highway. 

  • @Sophie – Motorists kill a San Francisco pedestrian every 21 days.  Cyclists, 21 years.  Get a grip.

  • @jonobate:disqus – Actually the lack of trees is the problem here, and the fact that the trees along 14th have their entire lower canopies pruned off.  This creates an illusion that it’s safer to speed down that hill.  Better to calm that than to open it up further, because that would just mean even higher speeds.

  • Beenthere

    Unless you were there it is very difficult to “assume” that the driver was completely at fault. I have driven that intersection for several years and I tell you all that on many occasions pedestrians would NOT, I repeat.. not be paying attention as they cross the intersection as they are texting or talking on their phones; also even if a vehicle is already in motion some people step out on the crosswalk because afterall the have the right of way. There is such a thing as common curtesy on both the driver AND pedestrian! I am in no way condoling this tragedy but some pedestrians do lack it.

  • guest

    Um, actually in this case we can “assume” things by assembling factual evidence and thinking critically. It’s simply not possible, period, for a walking pedestrian to suddenly jump out into a crosswalk quickly enough to take a left turner from a two-way street by surprise. Even a jogger shouldn’t have a problem in that circumstance. You should have been able to piece that together yourself from basic knowledge of how traffic moves. 

    But please, do continue to contribute with uselessly directed outrage and bad spelling, and little to no knowledge of the concept of ‘right of way.’

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Three years ago today, 21-year-old Dylan Mitchell was riding his bike east on 16th Street when a garbage truck traveling in the same direction turned on South Van Ness and collided with him. He died at the scene–a scene where flowers were left during Thursday night’s “Ride of Silence.” Mitchell was one of almost fifty […]

What Do You Do When Bike Thieves Get Hip to the Game?

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My work routinely requires me to travel to San Francisco City Hall to cover hearings and I would estimate I’m there on average between one and two times a week. I almost always ride my bicycle and in the course of nearly two years writing for Streetsblog, I’ve never had a problem locking up on […]