Man on Bike Killed by Garbage Truck Driver at 16th and South Van Ness

A Recology garbage truck driver ran over and killed a man on a bike at 16th Street and South Van Ness Avenue this morning at about 6:45 a.m., according to the SF Chronicle:

A witness said the truck, which was paralleling the male bicyclist on eastbound 16th, tried to make a right turn onto southbound South Van Ness and collided with the rider.

The garbage-truck driver continued a short distance South Van Ness after the crash, said the witness, 29-year-old Jorge Marquez of San Bruno, but stopped after people on the street yelled and alerted to him what had happened. He drove the truck around the block and parked back near the crash site, Marquez said.

The bike was dragged for one block. It was found mangled on the corner of 17th Street and South Van Ness.

The driver was cooperating with investigators, police said. They said drugs or alcohol were not suspected factors in the crash.

Of course, most of those who tweeted about the story — including Ellen Huet, the Chronicle reporter — didn’t call for safer streets, or ask why the truck wasn’t equipped with convex safety mirrors, or talk about the extra care that truck drivers must take to not run people over when making right turns (the driver may have violated CVC 22100, which requires drivers to make right turns “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway”). Instead, the attention centered on the report’s mention that “it does not appear that the bicyclist was wearing a helmet.”

But as Mark Dreger noted in his response to Huet, “A helmet is not going to protect you from being run over by a garbage truck. Separated bike lanes, maybe.”

  • bicicletera

    So sad for the victim. So disgusted at the response and at a general culture that encourages drivers to be aloof and oblivious.

  • Riding in mixed traffic often involves unfortunate trade-offs: you either confidently take the lane and risk irritating drivers behind you, or you stay to the right and risk doorings and right-hook collisions like this one.

    RIP <3

  • To be clear, not just “separated bike lanes”, but separated turning cycles in key intersections. NOT “mixing zones”! (The only difference between this and the new mixing zones is a bit of paint in the latter to tell you they are “safe”, or better than nothing.)

  • eltejano

    Why would a reporter “call for safer streets”? She’s reporting the story not writing an editorial. Also she didn’t “talk about the extra care that truck drivers must take to not run people over when making right turns” but she didn’t talk about but she didn’t write about taking the lane either as Mark D commented. Either way, sad story

  • I try to avoid riding around buses, taxis, dump trucks, or garbage trucks….any vehicle that I know would equate to instant death.

  • Joel

    Protected, center lanes with no left turns would make the most sense. That’s what the SFBC proposed for Valencia in their CTC plan a few years ago. I’m not sure why so much time and energy is being poured into Polk when the low hanging fruit hasn’t been picked yet – fix Valencia!

  • michael o.

    This area where the accident happened is quite dangerous. As a daily BART commuter that has to walk across said intersection, I often have to keep an eye out for cars trying to bet yellow lights and ones that make turns against the light when pedestrians are crossing. I’m surprised that this is not a red light camera zone – that would likely deter motorists from careless and rushed driving habits. Also, bicyclists have to be just as cautious in yielding to automobiles.

  • In that same vein, why would a reporter put out a tweet focused exclusively on the victim’s not wearing a helmet without even apparent evidence that he suffered a head injury? Meanwhile, no call for people to drive multi-ton trucks safely to avoid killing and maiming others?

  • Anonymous

    Further, Garbage Truck vs. Helmet.. C’m-thefuck-on! Only someone completely insensitive, ignorant, and car-cultured would make helmet status the issue here

  • Anonymous

    wish i could upvote this more than once…

  • Anonymous

    This is tragic, just like every other time it happens. These deaths are about as predictable as clockwork, and act as constant reminders that we are light years away from safe-enough streets.

    That’s the last I’ll say about that. It’s nice to have a forum like Streetsblog where we can mourn these tragedies without having to engage in constant political battles at the same time. I am sorry for the deceased and his/her family.

  • Everett Chan

    EVERYDAY I see cyclists ride straight through an intersection EXPECTING a motorist making a right to stop and look. BE SMART! You’re not going to outmaneuver a car and while you’re both moving, the guy ahead (whether bike or car) has the right of way and you need to slow down and let them go first. Thinking that you’ve got the right of way all the time = accident waiting to happen.

  • Everett Chan

    I really wish more cyclists would have the common sense you do!

  • cars kill and drivers should be expected to take extra caution so that they don’t kill with their motor vehicles. we should also expect that cyclists yield to pedestrians, whom they can kill or injure in a collision. vulnerable users of the road need to be PROTECTED, by holding motorists accountable for their actions (distraction, road rage, etc.) behind the wheel. I will be surprised if anything serious happens to this driver as a result of killing someone with his truck and that is exactly what needs to change.

  • Anonymous

    “…any vehicle that I know would equate to instant death.”

    In other words, any motor vehicle.

  • Anonymous

    Bikes are WAY more maneuverable than cars.

    And from the report I read, the truck was abreast with the cyclist, not in front. With most right-hooks, the auto will pass from behind only to turn right across a cyclist’s path. There’s not a whole lot the cyclist can do to prevent it except take the lane (or have lightning-quick reflexes and good brakes).

  • Anonymous

    Why should the driver be punished? Based on the facts in the story, it’s unlikely he even saw the cyclist, so distraction or road rage would not apply.

  • While the driver may not be at fault – “not seeing a cyclist” is not a valid defense. It’s a defense that appears to work, but it’s not valid.

  • Filamino

    I agree. It’s called defensive cycling (just like defensive driving and defensive walking). Be aware of your surroundings to avoid a collision in the first place. Trucks have large blind spots and drivers may not see you on a bike, so slow down and decide who goes first.

  • Filamino

    Mixing zones are still the way to go for most intersections. I cannot see an extra cycle for bike turns added to the signal cycle being efficient. Maybe a bike leading interval like a pedestrian leading intervals used at many intersections around the city would be a better idea.

  • Mark Dreger

    I think there’s something to using bicycle signals with a few seconds lead time. There’s now one in action on Oak St @ Broderick (you may have noticed).

  • uh p chazz, the driver should be punished because he killed someone. while he may or may not be at fault, why do you assume that he is not? Drivers, especially commercial drivers with routes in dense urban areas should be expected to be extra cautious and not kill people. another commercial driver killed another cyclist, Diana Sullivan, in february this year while making a right hand turn. In 2011, Nancy Ho was killed while cycling when a commercial driver struck her making a left turn. Derek Allen was killed riding his bike in 2010 by a Muni driver. As a cyclist, every time I see a commercial vehicle, I think about these deaths and I make sure I am not going to get killed. Instead of me, the vulnerable user of the road, the vehicle operator should be the one that is thinking every time he/she makes a right turn that he better make sure he is not about to kill someone. Every driver should be aware that they have the potential kill and the law should protect pedestrians and cyclists by making drivers accountable for their actions. As things are now, we will probably never again hear about the driver that killed someone with his truck today, nor the others who kill and injure people with their vehicles every day. That has to change if we want to have safe streets.

  • biking in SF

    We don’t know the facts yet, but pointing out the cyclist was not wearing a helmet is implying that it’s their fault they died. Same thing when saying a pedestrian was not in a xwalk when they were hit. More often than not, it’s not the cause of the crash or the death, just a convenient and subtle way to blame the victim.

    Something needs to be done to educate drivers turning right and cyclists going straight as it seems very few people know what to do. Given the law in CA: Drivers, signal your turn, move as far to the right (into the bike lane if there is one) prior to the turn when it is clear, then continue to the intersection and turn when it is safe. Cyclists, do not pass motorists on the right if they are turning right. Either wait or pass on the left.

    Other thoughts/considerations:
    1) A helmet would have made no difference here, most likely.
    2) It’s not against the law to ride without a helmet, nor an indication of how responsible the person is. Some of the safest and best riders I know do not wear a helmet to ride their bike on an errand around town.
    3) Jaywalking is only illegal when there is a signal at the two intersections on each end of the block. Otherwise, one does not need to cross in a crosswalk.
    4) Sometimes crosswalks at intersections are not marked. That doesn’t mean the person crossed outside a crosswalk. I’ve heard too many reporters and cops not understand that.

  • Anonymous

    The victim was a friend of my children. We are all just devastated at his loss. What a horrible, horrible tragedy. To have been taken away so horrifically is the hardest part. He was a really GOOD, decent young man. He was still just a kid. Something MUST be done with regard to safer streets and ways to avoid this kind of travesty in the future. Still in shock… and I haven’t even broken this awful news to my daughter yet. She adored him. May God bless his family. RIP “D”

  • Anonymous

    So, you would spend scarce civic resources clogging up the already crowded court and prison systems with drivers whose only “crime” was not seeing a bicyclist who was in their blind spot when they went to make a right turn. That’s not justice, that’s revenge. Bad things happen. People die. But that doesn’t necessarily make it a crime.

  • gneiss

    Sure, and drunk drivers never set out to kill anybody either and most don’t even do that. So why should drunk driving be a crime? There’s no reason to fill up our already crowded courts and prisons with people who’s only “crime” was having 4 drinks instead of 2 at a party. I mean it’s only an accident if someone dies on our streets, even if the driver was drunk or high.

  • Ryan Brady

    Ever heard of criminal negligence?

  • Anonymous

    Where is your proof? People are innocent until proven guilty.

  • mikesonn

    Pot meet kettle.

  • We should look to become a semi-civilized society and ban all trucks from the city, then from everywhere. Plenty of people need jobs — we can use cargo bikes, smaller light duty vehicles, etc. No need to have these GINORMO death monsters roaming the streets killing innocent people.

  • Anonymous

    You jumped to the assumption that this is about punishment as court and jail time. Drivers that kill someone should lose their license to drive a commercial vehicle and probably any vehicle. Same goes for any driver.

  • Anonymous

    Not an apt comparison. Drunk driving js clearly negligent and so criminal. There is no evidence that the garbage truck driver was negligent.

  • Anonymous

    Everett, as easy as it is to think that bike riders can avoid all the death machines on our roadways, we really can’t. Yes, I can avoid pulling up to the right of a stopped truck. But the only way I can truly prevent a truck or taxi or bus from taking me out is to drive instead of ride a bike or walk.

    But even that’s not good enough. Tens of thousands of people die every year in motor vehicles because other drivers aren’t paying attention, are speeding or are driving impaired.

  • Ryan Brady

    If you can unintentionally kill someone in a vehicle and not notice, it’s clearly an unsafe vehicle.

  • Anonymous

    It’s the open-wheel trucks that are clearly dangerous. If the wheels were properly covered it would be impossible to fall under them. I stay at least 5 feet away from any vehicle of that type unless it’s fully stopped.

  • if anyone is down, i’ll make a special trip up from SJ next week sometime — let’s protest at the scene and make SF officials start paying attention. if traffic wasn’t able to move thru the area all that well because at least a few people were severely pissed off about these killings, the powers that be would start paying attention real quick.

  • Anonymous

    What about buses? They’re pretty ginormo. But somehow, I don’t think that minibuses would work on the 38 Geary line at rush hour. And garbage trucks need to be that big to haul away the consumer waste that we produce. Someone suggested covered wheel wells. That might help. And another person suggested that bicyclists exercise more caution around large vehicles. We should be looking for solutions not blamestorming.

  • Buses are disastrous, too — we shouldn’t tolerate them, either. Ditto cars, of course.

    Big protected bike lanes on all our major corridors is obviously the best way to allow the city to get back to being able to move efficiently again, but until bike ‘advocates’ start taking that option seriously, we’ll be confined to keeping the strees clear for all manner of life-killing devices.

    A simple surface tram system could move bajillions of people easily, quickly, efficiently, inexpensively. That, too, seems to be an option off the table b/c very serious people are insisting we mimic the failed transportation systems of third world countries.

    I’m not aware of any consumer waste that could not be carried by _much_ smaller vehicles, like cargo bikes. One the myriad side benefits is doing the switch would actually create jobs instead of destroy jobs. So investors, Very Serious People, and most ‘advocates’ won’t be too interested.

    Not sure about covered wheel wells, but side guards have proven effective.

    Bikers already have to exercise too much caution — we need to fix the broken parts of the system.

    Blame is essential — it allows us to figure out what’s wrong and fix it. In this case, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and we need to fix everyone and everything that deserves blame, starting with our big political donors/corporations, our politicians, and our transportation officials and engineers. Let them all spend a few days in jail to contemplate how they’re not going to get anyone killed anymore. And we’ll keep sending them back to jail until they figure it out. They’re all a danger to society — putting them behind bars where they can’t continue harming us is probably our only recourse at this point.

  • Ryan Brady

    I was looking up pictures of recology trucks, and it looks like they do have covered wheels. Maybe this was an older model?

  • Anonymous

    In this case I don’t know, but there have been many cases of people falling under semi trailers, and the concrete truck a few months ago. All it takes is a small obstacle like a muni track or getting doored.

  • gob

    you are a genius! seriously you are!
    no more trucks around yes!…actually let’s go back with horses..right?

  • Recology trucks — seem pretty typical truck-ish to me:

    I think what we need to do is allow every SF citizen and visitor the chance to actually jump into the drivers seat of one of those trucks and see how impossible it is to see anything at all — then we’ll just ban them outright, which is the appropriate solution.

    There could theoretically be some level of protection that can be installed on the trucks — wheel covers and side skirts — that would prevent them from killing bikers and pedestrians, but we should get them off the streets right not until they’ve been proven safe — if that ever becomes possible.

  • you must be a real joy at parties.

    there are myriad truck and bus size restrictions already — newsflash to “life of the party” gob — they are in place for a reason.

    cities and towns all around the world are restricting truck usage for a whole host of reasons. Dublin, Cambridge, and Warner Robbins were the first three towns to pop up in google news.

    and it’s not just trucks.

    the motorized transport we generally abhor today is going away, slowly but surely, at least in the developed world.

    at some point, some town that wants to warm my heart is going to hold a weekday ciclovia.

    can you imagine?

    no trucks, no buses, no cars, oh my!

    how will the world…….operate without internal combustion engines?? it’s never actually been done before to my knowledge. how would people eat? or get around? it’d be, like, armageddon. or worse. people would have to get around by…like, walking or biking or some other crazed form of transport.

  • i found a bunch more geniuses you can call geniuses, errr, i mean equestrian enthusiasts:

  • Ryan Brady

    I don’t know. I’d rather get rid of private vehicles before commercial ones. Commercial vehicle operators have a lot more incentive to drive safely, and presumably have more training.

    With the exception of movers and delivery trucks, they also are far less likely to be double parked in a bike lane.

    Also, as much as you’d like it to be feasible, I don’t see bicycle garbage service or bicycle moving service working too well.

  • Ryan Brady

    Is that not what covered wheels are? I thought it meant blocking the front of the wheel, not the sides.

  • Anonymous

    So then the elderly and handicapped would just get thrown under the bus? I want no part of your brave new world.

  • my pov is that it is virtually impossible to make trucks, as currently constructed, safe.

    check this video:

    take them all off the road right now/today, outfit them with wheel guards and side skirts, then maybe we can put a couple back on the road, with new restrictions, and we decide then if they’re too much of a safety risk to tolerate.

    my guess is that there were human societies that existed hundreds or thousands of years ago that figured out how to deal with waste/refuse without motorized transport — if they can do it, i’m confident we can do it. especially here in the tech utopianism HQ that is the SJ Bay Area, i’m guessing we can find some folks who are up to the challenge.

    if it means it helps us achieve full employment, then that’s one of myriad benefits. the 1% will hate it, but that goes without saying.

    there are smaller garbage trucks already:

    and even smaller ones:

    we’ve already seen the euro-style vans being sold for commercial and consumer purposes. Kara’s Cupcakes had one of theirs at the Googleplex today (I was just passing by).

    google/corporate campuses/stadiums and facilities crews and bike-rental/share companies uses all manner of NEV vehicles for lighter industrial duty all over the world. it’s not a problem it all — it just makes sense.

    nothing happens overnight, either. bikes didn’t disappear overnight a hundred years ago, and they won’t reappear overnight today. and that’s not perfect for us today, but we shouldn’t think of this stuff as ‘unfeasible’ — we have to work to convince folks that a much better life is possible for the 99% if we can do these things.

  • gob

    dude I agree with that…I used to live in London..and that city has barely few bike lanes here and there. they need to do something. and they already did something called congestion charge for business transportation. it helped a lot!

    but still you can’t ban busses and would you move your stuff when you translocate? with a bycicle and a dolly?? how would you get your food at your favorite grocery shop next to your house? or farmers market? How would you make a construction going on? how would you transport the material for it? on your rump?

    and talking about a free world from cars and combustion engines..don’t you think other forms of transportation have been invented yet? but they can’t be used or being sold yet…the dominion of oil is still to big to make the corporations even consider it.

    especially in this nation like the rest of the world my man.

    our lives and this planet are nothing compare to the power of money.

    have you ever heard about the magic word “externality”?

  • Anonymous

    More likely, he had passed the bicyclist earlier, then stopped at the intersection to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic and didn’t notice the bicyclist had caught up and was about to pass on his blind side. A lot of these bicyclist are listening to music, so they’re distracted from drivers who don’t see them, or fail to realize they’re on driver’s blind side. If you’re on a bicycle or motorcycle, you should assume you’re invisible until motorist makes eye contact to acknowledge the driver see’s you.


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