Advocates: Despite Bike-Ped Death, Cars Still Greatest Danger to Peds

Bayshore and Alemany Boulevards, next to a Highway 101 onramp. High-speed motor vehicles on streets like these still pose the greatest threat to pedestrians by far. Photo: Aaron Bialick

In the midst of a wave of media attention around the recent bicycle-pedestrian death in the Castro, walking and bicycling advocates today re-affirmed the greatest dangers facing pedestrians on San Francisco’s streets: high-speed roads and dangerous driving behavior.

In a KQED radio forum this morning, Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe, SF Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) Executive Director Leah Shahum, SF Bicycle Advisory Committee Chair Bert Hill, and Captain Al Casciato of the SFPD Traffic Company all seemed to agree that the recent death of Sutchi Hui was as tragic as any, and that safer streets will require better street engineering as well as more effective enforcement and education efforts to elicit more courteous behavior among people using all modes of transport.

Still, there’s no question, they said: The vast majority of the more than 800 pedestrian injuries or deaths on San Francisco’s streets every year involve motorists and occur disproportionately on high-speed “arterial” streets.

“In a way, this is kind of a man-bites-dog story,” Stampe said of the bike-ped crash — an event receiving an unusual amount of attention precisely because it happens so infrequently, while too-common car-pedestrian crashes go vastly under-reported. “This is a real tragedy,” Stampe continued. “I don’t think anybody disagrees, a lot of people are upset, and it’s not okay for people to be hit in a crosswalk and killed in San Francisco. But the fact remains that three people a day are hit by cars… and that’s an underestimate.”

In fact, four other pedestrians have been killed this year alone, according to the SFPD, two of them in the same week as the bike-pedestrian fatality. The death of one still-unidentified victim killed by a Muni bus driver also made national headlines, but the other three victims killed by auto drivers, including 45-year-old Tom Ferguson (killed on the same day as the bus victim), received little more than a few blurbs in the media.

As the SF Bay Guardian pointed out, from 2000 to 2009, 220 pedestrians were killed in San Francisco, mostly by car drivers who rarely face criminal charges. None of those deaths are known to have involved bicycles. Media attention, however, seems to have focused on the two fatal bicycle crashes that occurred within the last year, and their reports rarely provide the statistics about traffic deaths in San Francisco. (Some of the more dramatic cases, like the Concord driver who ran over a family biking on the sidewalk this weekend, killing two, tend to garner more media attention.)

The behavior of Chris Bucchere, the bicycle rider who killed 71-year-old Sutchi Hui at Castro and Market Streets, has been roundly condemned, even by bicycling advocates, particularly in light of an online post in which Bucchere described “plowing through the crosswalk” and seemed more concerned about his broken helmet than about Hui.

“Of course, if there were problems and someone behaved recklessly, they should be held accountable. I would be the first to say that,” said Shahum of the SFBC. “Fortunately, though… these are very rare occurrences.”

The SFBC, Shahum pointed out, has long provided bicycling education classes and outreach efforts which instruct bicyclists to always yield to pedestrians. In fact, the organization released its new “Bicycle Rules of the Road” tip sheet for its Bicycle Education and Safety Week during the same week Hui was injured. Last Friday, in light of Hui’s death, the SFBC set up an outreach booth to hand out safety literature on Market Street and released a statement saying staff is “deeply saddened” by the news and “troubled” by Bucchere’s account of the crash.

While a few callers on this morning’s forum complained of bicyclists “flying all over” with impunity, Captain Casciato assured the audience that officers issue “quite a bit of citations” to bicyclists. He also pointed out the value of offering alternatives to traffic fines. In “the next couple weeks,” he said, the department will roll out a bicycle and pedestrian traffic school program, similar to the options available to drivers. The department will also make it easier for bicyclists who have received traffic citations to file formal complaints about street engineering that is difficult for bicyclists to navigate legally, he said.

Far more effective in reducing pedestrian injuries will be the SFPD’s new targeted enforcement plan, which focuses on the most dangerous violations in the areas with the highest rates of pedestrian crashes. As Stampe pointed out, over half of the city’s pedestrian injuries occur on just five percent of its streets — namely, high-speed roads in areas like the Tenderloin and South of Market.

“It’s pretty intuitive. It’s the wide, fast streets that act like freeways, where folks feel like they can drive really fast and don’t have to watch out for each other,” said Stampe. “What that tells us is if we can target our enforcement and our fixing the streets in those areas, we can make a big difference pretty fast and keep a lot more people safe.”

  • MARSupial_possum

    There’s something perplexing about the subtle pardon of Bucchere’s actions. This car vs bicycle diatribe about which is the death monster is disproportionate. The human specimen perceived from the onset that motor vehicles could be fatal for those who cross its path, and licensed training is administered to assure one has the proper skill to operate a powerful machine. The bicycle never had that connotation, and can be manipulated by anybody of any age without regard to skill or consideration. And that’s where the stigma lies. Because what we didn’t fear in the past is now a potential death monster.

  • mikesonn

    “licensed training is administered to assure one has the proper skill to operate a powerful machine.”

    I don’t know about that. There may be testing, but how stringent is up for debate.

  • Fran Taylor

    Thinking like an adult involves entertaining contradictory thoughts at the same time and working to reconcile them. So reckless bicyclists are fully responsible for their own actions, AND city practices that denigrate pedestrians have created a culture of disrespect for San Franciscans on foot. When drivers can kill and maim pedestrians and realistically expect not even a ticket; when cars routinely park blocking our sidewalks and crosswalks with impunity; and when police casually dismiss car collisions that harm pedestrians as “unfortunate accidents,” a pattern emerges. Are we really to believe that the Chronicle and others baying for the heads of bicyclists actually care about pedestrians? Where were the editorials and outraged voices after each of the hundreds of deaths and injuries over the years from cars speeding or refusing to yield in crosswalks?
     
    Cyclists need to show more respect for pedestrians, and no amount of bad behavior from drivers, police, or press excuses bad behavior from cyclists. But the current hue and cry smacks of opportunism.

  • In all dense, urban environments the pedestrian must be sacrosanct and streets should be designed first and foremost for their safety. In San Francisco SFPD should do so many failure-to-yield stings that even the most self-centered, selfish bicyclist or car driver approaching a pedestrian should wonder, “Hmm, is that old lady with a walker actually an undercover cop? I’ll stop just in case.”

    Every bicyclist knows they should not run over pedestrians, just as we all know we should not lie, cheat, steal, murder, etc. Requiring a license to operate a bicycle will not increase this knowledge nor prevent reckless, selfish behavior on the part of few people. (If licensing were effective in preventing reckless, selfish behavior, we would not see three people hit by licensed drivers every day in San Francisco.)

    Where there is great density of pedestrians, both cars and bicycles need to travel slowly.  In fact, probably in intersections with great numbers of pedestrians neither cars nor bikes should travel over 20 mph even when they have the right of way. That way if a pedestrian does inadvertently (or sometimes stupidly, or sometimes on purpose) step in front of car, at least there will be a low probability they will die from the collision.

    Up until last week, in all my years of walking in San Francisco I have had a number of close calls with cars but never with a bicycle.  Last week I was walking with friends across Montgomery during a pedestrian scramble light (where pedestrians can cross in all directions and no vehicles are supposed to move at all.) Two-thirds of the way across, a bicycle whizzed right in front of me through the crosswalk,coming within about eight inches and causing me to jump back with alarm. I minded far less that he clearly ran the red light (or indeed never stopped at all) than that he came so darn close at such a high speed. Was the five seconds he gained worth risking my life?

    If this bicyclist had stopped and then proceeded through the crosswalk at a gentle speed when there was a gap in pedestrian traffic I would not have thought twice about his actions. He would have appropriately yielded to the more vulnerable street user and would have posed no danger to me. How to prevent such self-centered, selfish behavior on the parts of a small number of people? Again, licensing (and even traffic school) is silly. It is not ignorance that causes this behavior. I think expensive tickets for failure to yield to pedestrians is the most effective (and perhaps the only) remedy at hand. Ticketing normal bicyclists who might roll through an empty intersection but who do yield to pedestrians when they come across them will not achieve anything. Yielding is what is important and what should be targeted.

  • Eric2shine

    When I went to Svalbard Norway they warned me what to do when artic turns attacked put stick above your head so they attack the highest point. When in sf or. Anywhere there’s cars 1: never stand on a corner or anywhere a car can hit you without a pole,tree light pole between you. Cars do and will lose control and in a blink bye bye. Wait 5 seconds before crossing to make sure all cars stop, most don’t and some old folks have seizures with foot on gas pedals also cross before you cross,like before an at bat, same thing. Cars are weapons of mass destruction and add cellphones………also stop and move behind a large object when a bike is on sidewalk. Never think your safe since were not. And people who drive cars wear seat belts

  • P-Dub

    Whatever happen in the case of the drunk driver who killed the German tourist?

  • peternatural

     The pardon is indeed subtle if it comes with felony charges!

  • Dave Moore

    No one rational is arguing that bikes pose a total higher danger than cars. The case *might* be made that bike pose a disproportionate danger given how few of them there are. There were 3 deaths in the last 18 months from bike on ped. 220 in car on ped deaths 10 years works out to 33 in 18 months. I expect that includes muni too though so the car figure is a bit less. The figures most often quoted are 6% of trips are on bikes. So by those numbers bikes are less likely to cause deaths. But that doesn’t seem to match what I see on the streets, where for the most part I can count far more than 20 cars for every bike. I expect it’s “best case” meaning during rush hour on nice days on designated bike lanes.

    For pedestrian danger rate though you need something like “incident per hour riding” vs “incident per hour driving”. That’s pretty hard to estimate, but I expect that if you added up all the hours spent by anyone riding a bike in SF and compared it to all the hours spent by anyone driving it would be more like 1:100. Which would make those 3 deaths significant.

    An interesting way to look at it is whether bikes are more dangerous than say Honda Accords or some other car that has about the same percentage of drivers as bike riders. So when you see a bike run a red light dangerously, don’t compare it to all the cars you see run a stop sign, limit it to just the Honda Accords.

  • Mario Tanev

    Even if bikes had a disproportionate number of deadly accidents (and it’s hard to tell, because 2 deaths inflicted by cyclists on someone else may be a statistical fluke), does that mean that bikes should be targeted more than cars? I think the answer is clearly no, because most hurt by far is done by automobiles, and that’s where the biggest bang for the buck for pedestrian safety is.

    Also, I don’t understand where you’re getting 3 deaths, instead of 2.

  • mikesonn

    There was a crash at Washington and Montgomery last spring. The reason for the crash is unknown though it has been speculated that a cyclist (who is the one who died) hit a pedestrian before hitting his head.

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/transportation/2011/04/bicyclist-suffers-life-threatening-injuries-downtown-accident?utm_source=feedburner+sfexaminer%2FLocal&utm_medium=feed+Local+News&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sfexaminer%2FLocal+%28Local+News%29feed&utm_content=feed&utm_term=feed 

  • Guest

    ….?…..

    Um, thanks for the random non sequitur thoughts there buddy. (Next time though, try a little editing.) But really, try to live life and fear less. We can all coexist a lot better in a less paranoid world.

  • I couldn’t agree more! Also, people shouldn’t be mad about cyclists killing people, because AIDS kills people too. 

  • Dave Moore

    Mario: I don’t think you can make an argument that in total bikes are more targeted than cars. There have been specific bike targeted enforcement efforts. But over the course of a month or a year do you really think that police spend more time on bikes than on cars? I’m sure it’s better to have short term focused efforts than spending N% of their time all the time on bikes. This way people know about them and maybe change their behavior even when the police aren’t doing them any more.

    And it’s absolutely true that the 2 recent deaths could be some kind of aberration. But I don’t think many people argue that bikes running through pedestrian crosswalks at speed is a) not dangerous or b) rare.

  • Anonymous

    The irony of any “enforcement campaign” is, if anything, the only obvious violation possibly committed by Chris was speeding, and the only evidence for that is notoriously unreliable iPhone GPS data.  So the cops will be out passing out tickets for the usual safe “stop = yield” behavior they themselves have been documented to practice.  It does nothing to address what happened in this case, just create more tension and more disdain for the cynical hypocrisy of the police. 

  • Aaron Bialick

    The trial is coming up soon.

  • @google-333a3c6be8253ca72913510f16918446:disqus  I agree with you that it isn’t rare, meaning I probably see it occur at a couple of intersections on my daily commute in the city. I would like to see more yielding, as has been mentioned by others, and frankly I wouldn’t mind if the SFPD cracked down on anyone who wasn’t *yielding*. Cars, cyclists, and pedestrians alike.

    My problem is when we start disproportionately cracking down on violations. Yesterday I saw lots of cars speeding down Folsom — the “YOUR SPEED” LCD sign  often reads 45+ mph. One car was double-parked in the bike lane, driver texting away. I lost count of the number of drivers I saw chatting on their cell phone. One woman ran a red and pulled out in front of me and a couple pedestrians near Civic Center. I could go on. 

    Some claim that the SFBC is a puppetmaster, controlling City Hall. If that’s really the case, why do we tolerate the aforementioned behavior, known to have killed 220 pedestrians in 10 years, yet call for crackdowns on cyclists?

  • The old false equivalency meme never gets old.

  • Aaron Bialick

    It’s also amazing what kind of straw men you can pull out if you look for them hard enough.

  • I think what people are missing is the cyclist in the most recent bike/ped collision found himself in a Kobayashi Maru situation and laid the bike down to prevent as much injury as possible to the pedestrians in the crosswalk. He was also transported to hospital for treatment of injuries. I have been tracking bicycle/car wrecks for over 6 years now, and the last time I saw a driver injured in one of those, the driver was doing about 80 MPH when he hit a cyclist (2 actually) and the corpse of a cyclist came through the windshield, killing the driver. This was in 2009, and I haven’t seen any reports of drivers getting killed or injured from hitting pedestrians or cyclists since then.

    Also, I thought that when pedestrians enter the crosswalk they have to yield to vehicles that are too close to stop or otherwise avoid them, to have right of way. The description of the wreck indicates the pedestrians did not yield to a vehicle that was too close to stop.

    That being said: DON’T HIT THE PEDESTRIANS!

  • Anonymous

    Nice, except so far it appears that the only failure to yield was the pedestrians failing to yield to a cyclist who had already entered the intersection, legally, under yellow.  He may have been going too fast (I don’t know) but the law is clear on the need for pedestrians to wait for the intersection to clear.

  • ubringliten

    Until cities across the US start designing infrastructure toward cycling, then you can compare.  For example, bicyclists are speeding because to catch the next light.  Time the street lights like on Valencia St., you will not see ped accident due to cyclists.

    As for comparing the amount of time cycling and driving, again that is unfair.  People that cycle live very close to their destinations and drivers go on for miles on freeways that peds don’t exist.  Put both of those two modes in the city, and driving is much more dangerous.

    Read on the statistics on Copenhagen and the Netherlands, and your arguments don’t stand.

  •  djconnel,
    It still hasn’t been established what happened in this case, but even if indeed the pedestrian was at fault for not waiting for the intersection to clear, this intersection is just too crowded and full of pedestrians for any car or bicycle to blast through at  speeds over 20 mph at any time. And anyone who has ever passed through this block of the Castro knows it. In the end, even actions that are technically legal may still be ill-advised, reckless given the circumstances, and/or morally irresponsible.

    If this bicyclist had been going 20 mph or less and then started braking as soon as he saw the pedestrians (rather than trying to “aim” for a gap like he was shooting the rapids in a river) the odds are high the pedestrian would have survived.  (Pedestrians hit by cars going 20 mph have an 80% survival rate and bikes have far less mass in the Force=ma equation.) In general going more slowly gives more reaction time, more time to swerve, brake, yell “watch out!”, whatever. Lower speeds and more cautious acceleration by both cars and bikes (but especially cars) will save lives, pure and simple.

    Another anecdote:  many years ago, my husband was riding behind a bus. Bus pulled over at a bus stop just before an intersection with a crosswalk but no light or stop sign. As my husband began to pass the bus, a kid who got off bus ran without looking in the front of the bus into the street. He was invisible to my husband until he suddenly appeared. My husband braked hard, went flying, broke his collar bone. But he missed the kid. Kid was fine. It was a split second decision on my husband’s part (no time for deep ethical considerations) but it was the right thing to do. (If you, as a bicyclist, are faced with ending up in the hospital whatever you do, better not to kill someone in the process.) 

    I find one easy way never to kill pedestrians is to bicycle at a pleasant rate of 12 mph or so. Works for me. In my car, with its blind spots and incredible ease of deadly acceleration, I have to constantly remind myself to be careful, careful, careful around pedestrians. Pretend everyone of them could be someone I love.

  • Anonymous

    @djconnel:disqus: Technically, a yellow light means “clear the intersection.” It does not mean that it is always ok to enter the intersection when the light is yellow. An inability to stop when the light turned yellow meant he was speeding (or the intersection was terribly designed).That being said, pedestrians almost never yield to vehicles (including bikes) who are already in an intersection. Sometimes, pedestrians are the ones who put themselves at risk.

  • I love watching pedestrians who see they have 3 seconds left mosey through a crosswalk. Inevitably they don’t make it across before the light turns. There is a certain group of pedestrians who get off knowing they are holding up traffic.

  • Pedestrians hit by cars going 20 mph have an 80% survival rate

    1) this is a one size fits all stat. The deceased was 71 years old. 
    2) We don’t know Bucchere’s speed. Technical description elsewhere.
    3) The probable event is that Bucchere was “aiming” for a gap while sliding across the ground on his bike. That slows you down pretty fast, and is similar to the action your husband took. But Bucchere was not avoiding one pedestrian, he was avoiding at least 2 (we know) and by his account several.

  • Hi Murph,

    From the account purported to be by the bicyclist:

    “The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions. … I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.”

    I interpreted this to mean he couldn’t stop so decided to go full steam ahead and plow through the crowded crosswalk.  But I can see that my interpretation may be due to me misunderstanding what he means by “laid it down”, possibly due to the fact that I have never ever considered the possibility of laying my bicycle on its side while riding it. If indeed he threw himself and his bicycle to the ground to reduce his speed and then slid into the intersection, I would agree that this was a moral choice and the right thing to do. I would think as a result he would have serious scrapes where his body came in contact with the asphalt that would prove he took this course of action?

    I will say that this intersection is huge, and even if the light turned red when he was in the middle there is still a certain amount of space after one is out of way of Market street traffic (but still before the crosswalk) in which one can brake, turn, maneuver, depending on one’s speed. Cars turning left from Market onto Castro often hang out in this pocket of space waiting for pedestrians to clear before they complete their turn.

  • Dave Moore

    ubringliten: I was referring only to city driving, not highway. I should have been more clear. 

    I’m sure you’re not saying that the *only* time cyclists speed is to catch the next light. That’s easily disproved. But maybe you mean that they speed *more* to catch lights and the incidents would fall if the lights were timed more for cycling speeds. 

    Can you show the statistics on Copenhagen and the Netherlands that you’re referring to? I’m not sure that they can easily be transported to our city as things may be different here (more hills, different weather, etc…) but I’m sure they’re interesting.

  • Karen –

    http://holierthanyou.blogspot.com/2012/04/chris-bucchere-accident.html

    It is assumed by many in the “racing” segment that the description mean he crashed his own bike, but that doesn’t completely dismiss the possibility that Bucchere meant he tried to speed up and shoot a gap. It would be odd that he would use the term “laid it down” for hammering through.

  • Dave Moore

    Driving faster than you’re able to stop is no defense for motor vehicles. It shouldn’t be for bikes either.

  • mikesonn

    Dave, you’re right, the weather is different here than northern Europe: it’s nicer.

  •  Dave – you have defined an imprecise standard. Your statement could be interpreted that the speed limit should be zero.

  • Anonymous

    The more people who cycle, the safer it becomes for *everyone* (pedestrians, other cyclists, and even motorists). See, for example,

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/bike_lanes_memo.pdf

    or

    http://files.meetup.com/1468133/Evidence%20on%20Why%20Bike-Friendly.pdf

    (summarized here: http://www.planetizen.com/node/50020)

    When you have low rates of cycling, the rate of injury and accidents is higher because people aren’t as accustomed to looking for cyclists and the infrastructure is not set up as well (safe) for cyclists and pedestrians. I bet that in the early days of cars, there were a LOT more people killed and maimed by cars than now, simply because the infrastructure was not designed for cars and people didn’t know how to behave appropriately around them. The same thing is true for bicyclists today: they have been given little to no consideration in urban street architecture and laws, so it’s not surprising that they fit in the least well in society.

    But due to the basic physics involved — that bicycles are lighter, slower, more agile, quieter, and their operators don’t have their senses dulled compared to cars — more people cycling instead of driving will always make our streets safer for pedestrians (as well as anyone else). When you make the “rules” to accommodate bicyclists (unlike what we have now), then we will have a level playing field and the statistics will quickly show that bicycles are much, much safer than cars. Again, any northern European city with high rates of cycling (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc.) has borne this out for decades now.

  • Dave Moore

    murphstahoe: the point is that you shouldn’t be going so fast that you can’t stop if the light turns red (after going yellow first). This is not a Kobayashi Maru situation. This is poor planning and taking a risk with other people’s lives. 

  • Dave Moore

    It may be true that high bicycling rates would increase pedestrian safety but it’s not especially relevant to this discussion. The question was whether right now the city was overreacting to the recent incidents. So far I don’t see anything to suggest that they are. Adding some targeted enforcement to negative cycling behavior seems totally appropriate.

    If no one drove or cycled at all I’m sure pedestrians would be even safer than those in Europe.

  • Davistrain

    There’s a term in railroading rule books that we should all keep in mind, whether we’re driving, bicycling, or walking in congested areas: “Be prepared to stop short of any obstruction.”

  • @google-333a3c6be8253ca72913510f16918446:disqus you could say that stepping out into an intersection before it clears is poor planning and taking a risk with other people’s lives. Without video I’m not saying that’s what happened or not but by the cyclist’s account he did legally enter the intersection.

  • Anonymous

    @google-333a3c6be8253ca72913510f16918446:disqus wrote: “It may be true that high bicycling rates would increase pedestrian safety but it’s not especially relevant to this discussion.”

    It’s very relevant to this situation, because most of the lynch-mob type mentality I hear from those that haunt, for example, SFGate.com’s comments, is that we should put the kabosh on cycling because it’s as dangerous or more dangerous than cars to our roadways (see the (unscientific) poll on the left of this article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/05/BA9O1NVHMI.DTL). If we implemented all the nonsense and arcane regulations on bikes these people are calling for, not only would they not work, but they would massively discourage people from cycling. And that in turn is a huge net benefit for *everyone* including themselves.

    In fact, this is *exactly* the issue at hand that Streetsblog has been trying to point out. If people don’t put cycling in its bigger context — how its a huge net benefit for *everyone* in society — then the reporting is biased. You can’t talk about this bias in media without talking about all the good that more people cycling brings to society.

  • Dave Moore

    Wow. For a moment I thought I was watching Fox news with complaints about the liberal media oppressing religious right.

    This city has been extremely supportive of the cyclers, far disproportionate to their numbers. We have new bike lanes everywhere I look and any time someone asks if a specific one makes sense they’re shouted down by the self righteous bikers. One time one told a painter friend of mine that he should lug his 30 foot ladder on a bike trailer when we attended a discussion about traffic circles on Page St.

    My point is that there are good changes and bad changes and until people can discuss them rationally we don’t get anywhere. Good: the Fell St green lane that stopped backups at the Arco. Bad: Removing pedestrians from the South side Panhandle paths. Just shouting “bikes are good” doesn’t help.

    At this point I don’t believe there is any proof that the changes we have made have had a net positive for the majority of citizens of the city. You might make the argument that we haven’t gone far enough. Other reasonable people might make the argument that we have already gone too far.

  • mikesonn

    “One time one told a painter friend of mine that he should lug his 30 foot ladder on a bike trailer when we attended a discussion about traffic circles on Page St.”

    Highly doubt this happened, and if it did then that person is an asshole – i.e. not representative of the vast majority of cyclists, much like the two incidents. Also, if only people like your painter friend, someone who actually “needs” an auto, drove then we wouldn’t be having this discussion. It’s much like the anti-parking meter hysteria that uses the “poor” as an excuse to fight meters when the poor are actually on the bus.

    “Bad: Removing pedestrians from the South side Panhandle paths.”

    I’m going to guess that meant to say north-side path, but not sure where you got that from. I’ve never heard anything out of the city suggesting that.

    “Just shouting “bikes are good” doesn’t help.”

    No, just shouting that doesn’t. But the media-blitz shouting “bikes are bad” doesn’t help either and actually puts cyclists at risk.

  • Dave Moore

    I was there. You may still not believe it, but it was several years ago at the Page St library, and I believe it was Leah Shahum herself (not positive about that). I did mean the North side. It wasn’t the city in this case but pro cycling folks saying that they wanted to go faster on those paths.

    There’s a lot of room for agreement: People drive for all kinds of reasons (weather, safety, speed, kids, carrying stuff). People bike for all kinds of reasons (exercise, cost, flexibility, fun). Currently way more people drive than bike. Cars are more dangerous than bikes. There are asshole drivers. There are asshole bikers.

    Enforcement of laws regarding road use should be supported by both bikers and drivers. Drivers can lose the privilege of driving if they violate those laws. But I don’t think there’s any way to keep a dangerous cyclist off the road. Shouldn’t there be?

  • @google-333a3c6be8253ca72913510f16918446:disqus IANAL but couldn’t a judge order an injunction prohibiting someone from cycling if they saw fit? Besides, licensing and insurance requirements don’t seem to prevent unlicensed and uninsured drivers from getting into accidents.

  • Dave Moore

    Licensing and insurance requirements don’t prevent unlicensed and uninsured drivers from getting into accidents, but I’m sure they do lessen the incidents. Better is better here, right?

    Having to have a judge order an injunction is a lot more of a burden than tracking infractions against a license. I know cyclists are against this (and I know they don’t do it in Europe) but it seems reasonable to me that if you’re going to demand the rights to share the public roads that you should be subject to similar responsibility of licensing and insurance. The rates would be lower of course as the risks are lower, but they’re not 0.

  • Anonymous

    @google-333a3c6be8253ca72913510f16918446:disqus wrote: “This city has been extremely supportive of the cyclers, far disproportionate to their numbers.”

    Disagree. Well, sure, compared to suburbia, absolutely. But it’s still *extremely* car-centric (and that’s sad considering that it is indeed one of the top cities in the US for cycling), so much so that, for example, 80 free parking spots for people who live in other neighborhoods trump cyclists getting protected space on what is almost a freeway through the city (see the Fell and Oak St cycletrack plans). With the city being “extremely supportive” of cyclists, we still can’t get more than a few percent of trips to be by bicycle.

    Instead of comparing to suburbia, I compare ourselves to northern Europe. In that regards, we are far behind. I’m not saying we haven’t made progress (we have), but we have a long way to go to make cycling a legitimate form of transit. I think we have achieved legitimacy when we have reached the MTA’s goal of 20% of trips by bicycle.

    And you have to remember that getting people cycling requires building a complete network of infrastructure. For example, if you only had, say, a half dozen north-south roads and another half dozen of east-west roads for motorists in the city, and then you had other roads that randomly ended, or where you were suddenly subject to fast moving semi trucks going twice as fast as you a few feet from you (I know that’s impossible, but I’m trying to come up with an analogous situation for a motorist compared to what a cyclist goes through when they are several feet from cars going twice as fast as them and that weigh much more), you wouldn’t drive much. In fact, with each additional segment of road, you wouldn’t get a corresponding increase in motorists. It wouldn’t be until you hit that tipping point, where there are enough roads that are safe enough and go enough places that suddenly everybody would start driving. So if you plotted number of miles of safe roads on the x-axis and the number of drivers on the y, the curve would be almost flat and only barely increasing until you hit that tipping point, when it would almost exponentially grow.

    That is exactly how it works with bikes. We will always be dabbling in the 1-5% range of people bicycling until we get enough infrastructure (and corresponding appropriate laws and enforcement) built, and then the curve will grow quickly. In other words, it’s an investment that isn’t paid off until you reach that critical tipping point. Of course, this also means that half-assed investment in bicycle infrastructure (which is all we’ve seen until the very recent cycletrack proposals) will definitely waste your money. But if you want to reach that long-term goal, you have to go through this point.

    So as a city, the MTA has made it their goal to get 20% of people cycling (by 2020 no less, though I don’t think they will reach this at this ridiculously slow rate of building safe bicycle infrastructure like cycletracks). The only way they will do this is with a long-term investment in bicycle infrastructure that blankets the city and that is safe (that excludes, by the way, what we previously have called “bike lanes”, i.e., a painted line between parking cars with opening doors on one side and fast moving cars on the other, which has for decades proven to never anything but a fraction of a percent of trips by bicycle). And in the short-term, they won’t see a huge increase (in percentage of trips by bicycle) for a while until they hit that critical point.

  • Dave Moore

    jd_x: Good argument, but unfortunately it can’t be proved or disproved until you’re done and forced everyone to go through a fair amount of pain and cost. There are smart moves that can be made for small cost but the city seems very willing to commit to big things (the Masonic changes for example) without acknowledging the pain they will put people through or having rational discussions about them all in the name of this 20 by 20 plan and the “transit first” program that got turned into “bikes first”.

    Maybe at the end you’ve relieved everyone of the burden of those 20%. Or maybe, just like the studies that show that adding capacity doesn’t improve traffic, all you’ve done is made it harder for most people to get around while a minority bikes.

  • mikesonn

    “Or maybe, just like the studies that show that adding capacity doesn’t improve traffic, all you’ve done is made it harder for most people to get around while a minority bikes.”

    Are you implying that adding bike capacity won’t increase the number of cyclists? Can you clarify?

  • Anonymous

    Cycling in San Francisco, like it or not, still skews young & male. The average cyclist is probably more aggressive than the average driver, simply as a result of that (on the other hand, this is probably not true in Concord). So while it’s fair to say that there should be an effort to crack down on aggressive and dangerous behavior, I think we should recognize that simply getting the people most likely to drive dangerously out of cars and on bicycles is itself a big step in improving overall safety.

  • EZEKIEL

        **********    PLANETERY  COMMON  SENSE  by   EZEKIEL’S  WHEEL  ***********
     
     
    OK———————— DIRECTLY  TO  THE  POINT!             “THE   BICYCLE” 
     
    1   ESPECIALLY  IN  SAN  FRANCISCO ——  IT  HAS  MANY  MANY  HILLS,  TRAFFIC  AND  PEDESTRIANS.
     
    2.   A  BICYCLE  IS  A  MOVING  OBJECT/VEHICLE—-  WITH  WHEELS.
     
    3.   A  BICYCLE  CAN  REACH  SPEEDS  OF  APPROXIMATELY  40  MILES  PER       HOUR.   AND  GREATER.
     
    4.   A  BICYCLE  CAN  CAUSE  DEATH  AND/OR  SERIOUS  DAMAGE  ON  HUMAN  BEINGS  AND  PROPERTY  DAMAGE.   FOR  EXAMPLE:  SIDE  SWIPING  OF  SIDE  MIRRORS  ON  CARS    AND  TRUCKS.
     
    5.   SINCE  A  BICYCLIST  WISHES  TO  COMMODORE  A  BICYCLE ————- A  LICENSE  PLATE  AND  PROPERTY  LIABILIY  INSURANCE,   THAT  WILL  COVER THE  DAMAGE  TO  CARS,  TRUCKS,  HOMES  AND  PEDESTRIAN,  INCLUDING  DEATH  TO  A  PEDESTRIAN  OR  A  BABY,  IS  AND  WILL  BE  IMPLEMENTED  AUTOMATICALLY,  BY  THE  CALIFORNIA  STATE  D M V.
     
    6.   SINCE  THIS  STATE  HAS  BECOME  POORER————————-  AND  THE  AVERAGE  PERSON  IN  THIS  STATE  IS    LAWLESS ——————-  THERE  IS  A  FINANCIAL  PENALTY  THAT  YOU  SHALL  EXPERIENCE.  SINCE  EPECIALLY  THE  BICYCLIST  IN  SAN  FRANCISCO,  FEEL  THAT  THEY  DO  NOT  HAVE  TO  STOP  AND  STOP  SIGNS  AND  STOP  LIGHTS,  AS  OTHER  VEHICLES  DO,  THAT  HAVE  WHEELS,  AND  TRAVEL  AT  SPEEDS,  OVER  2  MILES  PER  HOUR.
     
    7.   FOOD  FOR  THOUGHT,  IF  YOU  DO  NOT  KNOW ————————  YEARS  AGO,  KNOW  ONE  HAD  TO  HAVE  A  DRIVERS  LICENSE,  A  LICENSE  PLATE  ON  THEIR  VEHICLE  OR ———————–  INSURANCE.
     
    8.  SAN  FRANCISO  BICYCLISTS  HAVE  ABUSED  THERE  SHORT  FREEDOM,  AND  DO  NOT  HAVE  COMMON  SENSE  TO  CONTROL  THEIR  LAWLESSNESS.  SO  SINCE  “CITY  HALL”  DOES  NOT  KNOW  WHERE  THE  TOP  OF  THE  ELEVATOR  IS ———————————– THEN  THE  STATE  OF  CALIFORNIA  WILL  SHOW  THEM.
     
    9.   SO ——————————–  NOW  YOU  SO-CALLED  BICYCLE  RIDERS —-  YOU  HAVE  ADVANCED  TO  HAVING  STATISTICS  OF  HUMAN  DEATHS.  
     
    10.   IN  SAN  FRANCISCO —————————————– THERE  ARE  HIGH  REPORTS  OF  VEHICLE  DAMAGE  TO  SIDE  SWIPING  OF  SIDE  MIRRORS,  AND  SIDE  DOOR  BICYCLE  TIRE  INDENTATION,  SCRAPS —-  THEN  CAR/TRUCK  ACCIDENTS.
     
    11.   KEEP  IN  MIND ——————————————-   WRITTEN  COMMENTS  BY  BICYCLIST  IS  EXTREMELY  PREJUDICE.   THE  ADVERAGE  PERSON  THAT  RIDES  A  BICYCLE  FREQUENTLY ————————  HAS  NO  “BACK-UP  LIABILITY  INSURANCE  OR  CONCEPT  OF  “LOW  SPEEDS”  OR  SAFTEY.,  BECAUSE  THEY  ARE  FINANCIALLY  BURDEN,  WITH  OTHER  PROBLEMS.  THAT  IS  WHY  THEY  ARE  RIDING  A  BICYCLE,  WHEREVER  THEY  GO. 
     
    12.   SAN  FRANCISCO —————————– LIKE  MOST  CITIES  IN  AMERICA.  
     
    YOU  HAVE  TWO  KIND  OF  PEOPLE.   THE  PEOPLE  THAT  ARE  RESPONSIBLE  AND  ARE  LEADERS,  AND  FINACIALLY  SET —————————– AND  THOSE  THAT  ARE  “WANT-A-BE’S”  THAT  ARE  SIMPLE  “FOLLOWERS.”    
     
     

  • Anonymous

     Ezekiel,
    What a load of bull.
    Dump the rhetoric and try using some checkable facts.

  • phli

    A bicyclist hits a pedestrian–and a story about bad cars is written.   That says alot more about bicyclists attitudes than cars. 

  • mikesonn

    Three major car crashes on Embarcadero in less than a week. Two bike-ped crashes in a year.

    Which is the major focus of the media?

    Let us not forget that two pedestrians were killed by drivers within a day of the Castro/Market crash – nary a mention on any news source.

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