Woman on Bike Killed by Truck Driver on Folsom: Charges Off the Table?

Photo: Will Tran via hhttp://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Bicyclist-killed-in-SoMa-crash-with-truck-4731657.phpSFGate

An unidentified 24-year-old woman was killed while bicycling on Folsom at Sixth Street this morning when she was hit by a big rig truck driver, according to SFPD and media reports.

The victim is the third bicycle rider killed in San Francisco this year, and each death has involved a truck driver. Although the driver seemed to be at fault in each case, none have faced charges.

Here are the details on this morning’s crash, via SFGate:

The crash happened as the truck tried to make a right turn at 7:07 a.m. at Sixth and Folsom streets, police said.

Both the bicyclist, a woman about 30 years old, and the truck driver were headed east on Folsom. When the trucker tried to turn south onto Sixth, he hit the bicyclist, said Officer Bryan Lujan.

The woman died at San Francisco General Hospital. Neither her name nor the name of the trucker has been released.

The truck driver stayed at the scene and was interviewed by police. He has not been cited. The truck was later towed away.

As police investigated the crash, the woman’s crumpled blue, road-riding bicycle lay at the southwest corner of the intersection. A bike helmet was nearby.

Police have already determined that the truck driver won’t face any charges, according to a tweet from KTVU reporter Brian Flores, who also specified the victim’s age at 24.

SFPD spokesperson Dennis Toomer said he couldn’t confirm those reports, however. “This is still an on-going investigation and I cannot confirm if charges are pending for a later date or not,” he said. Toomer said state law also prevents SFPD from releasing information about the victim or driver at this time.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition, called the crash “another tragic reminder of what can happen when bikes and large trucks mix on our city’s high-speed corridors.”

Folsom, a street designed as a one-way, high-speed motorway — common in SoMa — has a painted, unprotected bike lane at the site where the victim was killed. “Folsom Street is one of the city’s few designated bike routes to downtown,” said Shahum. “Still, this street feels intimidating. This core route sees thousands of bike riders every day, yet large trucks travel next to these bike riders — completely unprotected.”

Such crashes might be prevented under a plan to redesign Folsom with a two-way, parking-protected bikeway, as called for in the Eastern Neighborhoods Transportation Implementation Planning Study (EN TRIPS). The plan would also convert Folsom into a two-way traffic street and remove one of its traffic lanes, creating a calmer environment. However, city agencies have yet to initiate the street redesign.

The Folsom redesign called for in EN TRIPS includes a two-way, protected bikeway.

Shahum pointed out that in Manhattan, one-way protected bike lanes installed on Eighth and Ninth Avenues led to a reduction in overall traffic injuries of 35 and 58 percent, respectively. “San Francisco is woefully behind other cities in adding separated bikeways on arterial streets,” she said.

“Where is [the Folsom] plan?” she said. “Why is there still no progress? It’s time for the city to implement their safety redesign.”

Truck drivers should also be required to have convex safety mirrors, “so drivers can more easily see vulnerable road users,” said Shahum.

She also called on the city to “require that large vehicle operators take safety courses in how to safely share city streets with people biking and walking,” and noted that the SFBC has “reached out to multiple companies to teach bicycle safety classes.”

“It is the responsibility of the city and these companies to help ensure the safety of our most vulnerable street users,” said Shahum. “With more building and development planned for San Francisco, and subsequently more large trucks, it’s imperative that safety measures are put in place to prevent further tragedies like this from happening.”