Man on Bike, 51, Seriously Injured in Crash on Laguna Near Broadway

Laguna, looking northbound from Broadway. Image: Google Street View

A 51-year-old man is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after he collided his bike into an SUV whose driver was pulling into a mid-block garage, on Laguna Street near Broadway. SFPD reported that the man was headed in the downhill, northbound direction on Laguna, “and failed to stop at a stop sign” before crashing into the right side of the SUV.

In an email, SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza didn’t say how close the driveway was to the Broadway intersection, but said the man’s treatment of the stop sign contributed to his “high rate of speed”:

The stop sign is a factor in the collision. There are independent witnesses who spoke with police at the scene who stated the bicyclist was traveling n/b on Laguna at a high rate of speed downhill and ran the stop sign. Bicyclists, motorists nor pedestrians are immune from laws enacted in this state. They are enacted for public safety reasons. The SUV did not crash into the bicyclist. It was pulling into the garage when the bicyclist collided into the right side of the SUV or passenger side.

While a driver pulling into a driveway bears responsibility for making sure that the coast is clear before turning across oncoming traffic, someone bicycling or driving straight through should also be prepared to stop in time to avoid such a crash. In this case, given Laguna’s steep downhill slope and the limited view over the hill crest, it’s easy to imagine that the man might not have been as prepared to stop as he should have been.

“Certainly, regardless of the circumstances, we do hope the bicyclist makes a quick recovery,” Esparza added. “It’s never good when someone is injured.”

  • Prinzrob

    Yes, at which point the police can crack down on that dangerous behavior, without also affecting all of the bicyclists who are safely rolling through the stop without “bending” the law to do so.

    When I was a young adult I worked as a councilor at a summer camp. At this camp we specifically set some unnecessary but very strict rules (no holding hands, shirts must be buttoned all the way up) for the kids. We knew they were going to act rebellious so if we gave them some harmless rules to break they wouldn’t bother getting into real trouble.

    However, at some point people grow up and don’t need to be coddled like we did for the kids at the summer camp. Most people on bikes aren’t rolling stops because they want to rebel against the man, they are doing so because a complete stop just doesn’t make sense most of the time. Give people sensible rules and expect them to act sensibly, and if anyone still acts like a lout then give em hell.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I hope you are right but that is not what I saw happening in Idaho.

    I will also say that advocates there (I worked closely with many) are worried that as cycling gets more popular in Idaho, they will see more of the reckless stop behavior I describe and there will be pushback to undo the Idaho Stop Law.

  • jd_x

    Yes, I would pass the law in my state (CA) because they have already studied it and determined that it works. What makes you think it wouldn’t work in any other state or city, like SF? Don’t say, “Because Idaho is a sparse state”. There are plenty of intersections in Boise that have just as much traffic as those in SF. Just because SF has *more* of said intersections doesn’t mean that the same concepts don’t apply.

    Also, the de facto behavior of most cyclists is to roll stop signs when nobody is there, and even with this behavior regularly occurring, study after study and data set after data set shows that cycling is safe, that it’s a net health benefit to society, that it reduces environmental impact, and that the biggest danger (by orders of magnitude) to pedestrians (and cyclists) remains cars.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    Give it a shot by all means but don’t tell me later I didn’t warn you. It will take a lot of political capital to get this to pass in any state and if it fails you’re likely not to get any more pressing bicycle safety legislation passed anytime soon.

    I can’t cite my source because I’ve been sworn to secrecy but I could get a very powerful and authoritative advocate on this topic who would vouch for everything I said here already.

  • Dave Moore

    if he wasn’t speeding, but is deemed to be at fault, then the speed limit is too high

    I can’t see how you can use the fact that an individual failed to do something, and was found at fault to prove that the speed limit is wrong as a safety measure for everyone else. Laws are not, and shouldn’t be, designed this way. A zillion things happen every day. This cyclist could have been distracted, could have had a less than optimal braking system, the road might have been slippery, he might just have slow reflexes and so many other factors that could resulted in him traveling too fast for conditions. Just because (in this hypothesis) he was going at or under the limit doesn’t necessarily mean the limit is wrong.

  • murphstahoe

    The law you are forgetting is that left turning traffic is supposed to yield to oncoming traffic. It’s not the responsibility of oncoming traffic to make sure that they will be able to stop for left turning traffic in front of them – it’s the responsibility of left turning traffic to yield.

    For that to work, the left turning traffic has to rely on the operator of the oncoming vehicle to be in compliance with the speed limit. Doesn’t matter if that vehicle is a car or a bike. The driver can’t presume they can turn left and that if the oncoming driver is unable to hit the brakes and stop that the oncoming driver is at fault.

    If the cyclist was going under the limit but despite doing so the oncoming driver was unable to see the cyclist and yield because of the conditions of the roadway, the limit should be lowered. If the cyclist was over the limit, the cyclist is at fault. If the cyclist was at or below the limit and the driver turned in front of him anyway, the driver is at fault. Or at least should be.

  • Dave Moore

    The standard to change the speed can’t be the simple existence of a driver who failed to react in time to a cyclist traveling at the legal speed (in this hypothetical). Somehow the expected capabilities of a typical driver have to be factored in. Or something more rational than “once there was this guy who didn’t see this other guy so now no one can travel at more than 3mph”.

  • amhey

    Too many cyclists are scofflaws when it comes to stop signs – rest your feet and put at least one of them on the ground whenever there is a stop – it’s good manners and means you are responsibly obeying the law which should make you feel good!

  • amhey

    Your risk!

  • Yeah, I got grazed by a tumbleweed one time.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty stoppy/yieldy cyclist. Just not when the intersection is totally deserted (which happens A LOT).

  • gneiss

    And to paraphrase… “Too many car drivers are scoflaws when it comes to stop signs – instead of rolling through them, come to a complete stop and wait 2 seconds whenever there is a stop – it’s good manners and means you are responsibly obeying the law which should make you feel good!”

  • murphstahoe

    If this is the case, then we set the limits, expect some incidents, and ticket the party at fault. In this case, if the hypothetical cyclist was traveling at the legal speed, then the driver (who appears to be less than typical) is at fault.

  • Dave Moore

    I expect we’ll never know. But the fact (and it doesn’t appear to be disputed) that the cyclist ran the stop sign certainly doesn’t help his case. It at least creates the possibility that he was travelling faster than the speed limit. And that he was cycling recklessly, which probably is considered when assigning blame in any accident. Consider if this was car on car. If one had just blown through a stop sign I bet he gets the official blame every time.

  • penguin42

    What does Idaho stop have to do with this story? California doesn’t have idaho stop, yet this guy still blew through the intersection. So what’s your point? Idaho stop won’t change bike behavior, but it will make it so that cyclists who roll through a stop *safely* don’t get harassed by police.

  • cherylmeril

    The city’s taxpayers will likely be paying for this man’s hospital stay at SF General that will be enormous but it will also cause him to go into bankruptcy if he survives. The driver wasn’t at fault so he’s stuck with the bill. Running a stop sign has ruined his life forever. Was it worth it?

    I was clipped nearly 2 years ago on Broadway at Polk and the SF Gen bill and add-ons added up to $255,000. Had I been at fault I would have been devastated.

  • Too many motorists are murderers when it comes to stop signs…and left turns…and right hooks…etc.

    But making sure bicyclists obey the letter of the law makes you feel good!

  • Before LCI there was ECI. ECI was largely the mastery of an ideology that finds the Idaho Stop anathema. LCI is a reformed version of that (causing John Forester to depart the League in a huff), but of course adherents to the ideology could qualify for either.

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