Bicyclist Killed by Muni Bus on 6th Avenue in Inner Richmond

UPDATED Friday, 9:05 a.m.

A 22-year-old bicyclist named Derek Allen was killed by the driver of a 44-O’Shaughnessy on 6th Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Clement Street late Thursday afternoon in the city’s second bicyclist fatality of the year. (The raw video above is from CBS5).

A spokesperson for the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office said Allen lived in the East Bay but he could not say which city.

An SFPD spokesperson said the crash happened around 4:59 p.m. as the bus was traveling northbound on 6th Avenue. A man who works at a nearby bakery and witnessed the aftermath told Streetsblog the driver may have been attempting to pass another 44 bus when he or she collided with the bicyclist.

At the crash site, the bus involved in the collision, 8456, sat in the southbound lane facing north in the middle of the block near a parking lot while another 44 sat idle closer to Geary Boulevard facing north in the northbound lane.

“One bus was headed in the right direction down 6th Avenue here and then the other bus was passing it on the wrong side of the street, and then we saw a bicycle wedged underneath and the body,” the witness said. He didn’t want to be identified and added that he often sees Muni operators speeding and trying to overtake other buses in the area.

The mangled white bicycle appeared to be a 10-speed. Allen’s body was draped in yellow tarp and two SFPD officers held white tarp over it until it was transported by the Medical Examiner more than two hours later.  The bicycle was taken away by uniformed officers and put into the back of a black SFPD SUV.

Photo courtesy of SF Citizen
Photo courtesy of ## Citizen##

Yellow police tape tied around poles and parking meters stretched for half a block. A lone bouquet of flowers was placed in the driveway of the parking lot in memory of the bicyclist. Around 7:40 p.m., a large tow truck hauled the bus away and police began to clear the street.

The driver of the bus will be placed on leave pending the results of the investigation. An SFPD spokesperson said the crash was being investigated by the department’s hit-and-run detail.

Allen became the second person to die on San Francisco streets this year while riding a bicycle. On August 13, 22-year-old Nils Yannick Linke, a German tourist, was killed by a drunk driver while riding a bicycle on Masonic Avenue.

More coverage from SF Citizen, CBS5 and the SF Examiner.

  • EL

    Bryan Goebel wrote:

    It is always “driver hits cyclist” or “driver hits pedestrian.” When we say “car hits bicyclist” or “bus hits bicyclist” it helps absolve any accountability/ responsibility on the part of the human being who was operating a machine that killed another human being. Did I go too far, and did my headline suggest this was intentional? I don’t think so.

    My response:

    So for the purposes of absolving accountability/responsibility on the part of human beings, it would be equally fair to write “bicyclist illegally riding on sidewalk enters street into path of bus and accidentally kills himself”. But hey… I wrote “accidentally” so I haven’t gone too far, nor have I suggested it was intentional. No negative comments please to this tragic accident please. The phrasing used to write an article on the death of someone is merely “semantics” according to Bryan Goebel.

  • Nora

    This was a real human being, He was part of my family.We are grieving and heartbroken. his name was Derek Allen. He was only 22……..we just want to know how this tragedy occurred

  • This story is really tragic and I really feel for what the Allen family must be going through right now. I bike everyday to and from work through the busy streets of the city and it is so dangerous out there that I can’t help but think that it is not if I get hit, but when I will it will happen. I believe that I am a very safe Biker, I wear a huge helmet, I have the blinking lights and I obey the traffic rules. However, until more bike lanes are created and drivers become more aware of there surroundings I am afraid that these terrible accidents will continue.

  • friend

    One of closest friends during highschool, a great guy and lots of experiences with him….

    Can i just say that looking at the video this looks llike the drivers fault….

    Derek is on the left of the bus and the parked bus is behind it…

    He was passing around a parked bus and had already cleared it’s length.

    The relative speeds of the bike and bus and the fact that he was hit in the front corner shows that he had to have been in front of the bus moving towards the curb…

    This bus is angled towards the curb as well and hit him on that side…

    How could the bus not have seen him in the middle of the road and why was it turning the direction of him and not angled towards the opposite curb????

    If derek had indeed shot out in front of the bus and the driver indeed attempted to avoid him then the angle of the bus would be turned opposite of the side he was hit in order to move AWAY from him.

  • Mick

    friend and others,

    I would counsel against jumping to any conclusion here. It simply isn’t helpful. Of course that goes double for the editors here.

    Second-hand speculation from people who “arrived 5 minutes later”, who watched a “video” or who often ride that route is understandable but prejudicial.

    Nor is the fact that the driver had a smoke and a drink afetrwards indicative of anything other than she might have been stressed and dehydrated.

    Some attribution of blame to the driver is rhaps understandable, at leastf rom those who personally knew the victim.

    But please, all that needs to be said here is that a bus and a cyclist were involved in a fatal collision. Why embellish it with personal blame?

    Still, I guess if it had been a SUV and a cyclist, the rhetoric would have been even more biased.

    The truth will come out in time. Until then, let’s spare a thought for both parties to this accident, and hope to elarn from whatever the verdict eventually is.

  • Jenneane Eslami

    I am so sad about Derrick. My daughter Kadie went to senior prom with him. They dated in High School…I will always have fond memories of his smile…We had a great time in Monterey with him and his Mom. I had just got back from a trip from Monterey on Thursday night then we heard the sad news…..Rest in Peace Derrick and we love you!!

  • DarkKnight

    Investigators, more usually than not, arrive at the scene of an accident, or a crime, after the act. Yet it is still possible, many times, to figure out what happened. So, arriving 10 minutes later is immaterial to a non-eye-witness finding out what happened.

    This accident never should have happened; but it did, likely because so many corners were cut along the way.

    The operator of every vehicle, MUNI or not, must be held 100% responsible for their actions behind the controls. Even if an unattended bus rolls away and hits someone or something, the operator is responsible for the runaway. (As in why weren’t those wheels chocked? 30 Stockton, anyone? Was is a malfunctioning wheelchair lift inspection or a impromptu, mid-run coffee break?) I have also witnessed supreme acts of recklessness and stupidity on the part of a some cyclists, too, but not the victim in this case.

    8456 was stopped north of Smart&Final, yet still south of the intersection of 6th Av and Clement. This was a mid-block incident, not an intersection incident. No possibility of anyone running a traffic signal. A real possibility of last minute oncoming traffic from Clement, though.

    8420, which was also northbound, was stopped entirely in the northbound lane, albeit crooked, pointing slightly rightward, nearly a bus length behind 8456. 8420 was all dark, no flashing hazard lights and with the front door open (no operator tending the vehicle).

    By the time I arrived, I saw neither operator. Presumably, they were being interviewed elsewhere.

    Northbound 44 runs at 10 minute intervals at that time of the day, according to the official schedule.

    I have a lot of questions for MUNI and these do not end with the operators of 8456 and 8420.

    I strongly suspect, from past experience, that 8420 was a 44 run *ahead* of 8456 in the schedule. Whether or not that is correct needs to be disclosed to the public. For some, as yet undisclosed reason, 8420 stopped in the middle of the block, in the northbound lane of traffic. The reason for 8420’s stoppage also needs to be disclosed to the public.

    1) If that much proves to be true, when was Central Control notified about a service stopping malfunction on 8420?

    Operators don’t get to go Out of Service without calling it in.

    2) When did Central Control order the 44 line to be rerouted away from 6th Av, between Geary and Clement?

    I arrived on scene about 10 minutes after the accident. SFPD had already completley sealed off the block to vehicle traffic, at both ends, and the two busses were already surrounded by marked and unmarked official city vehicles.

    When I called into 311 to find out about the status of the 44 line, 311 had no information about any delays or disruptions to 44 service, let alone any clue about a MUNI-involved fatality on the 44 line. There was no notice of any rerouting of the 44 line to 311 a/o 5:15p.

    3)a If Central Control knew about a stalled 8420 on 6th Av, why wasn’t 8456 ordered to reroute to 7th Av *before* 8456 came up on 6th Av and Geary?

    3)b Why allow any other northbound 44s to rollup on a stalled-in-traffic bus, forcing an ill-advised choice to pass, or not, on a two-lane, two-way street?

    4)a Where was the operator of 8420 when 8456 came up from behind? Was the operator of 8420 tending to the stopped vechicle or did she/he abandon it in the roadway?

    4)b Did the operator of 8420 signal to 8456 that it was all clear to pass?

    When I came on scene, 8420 was all dark. (If 8420’s lights were on at the time of the accident, why bother to turn them off?)

    A stopped MUNI bus in any lane of traffic creates a huge visual obstacle, even for operators of other MUNI busses approaching it. Even if you can clearly see the adjacent/opposite lane, you can’t know what, if anything/anyone, is on the other side of the stopped bus. There is a large blind spot. While the oncoming, southbound lane of 6th Av may have been in the clear view of the operator of 8456, how did the operator know that the northbound lane, on the opposite side of 8420, was clear to reoccupy?

    5)a Did Central Control request DPT to control traffic around 8420, prior to 8456’s accident?

    5)b How far away was DPT from arriving on scene at the time of 8456’s accident, if they were requested at all?

    In my view, if no traffic control was dispatched to manage traffic around a stalled 8420 on 6th Av, then MUNI created an attractive nuisance at the scene, dramatically increasing the odds for some kind of accident.

    Impatient San Francisco drivers, of all manner of vehicles, thoughtlessly, if not recklessly, cross yellow lines (including implied yellow lines) and double yellow lines to pass anything/anyone that’s in their way, regardless of whether it is safe to do so or not — no texting-while-driving required. Passing for them is a reflex, not a matter of judgement.

    Media has reported that the operator of 8456 tried to swerve to avoid the collision.

    At the scene, with the bicycle and deceased still pinned beneath the front of 8456, northbound 8456 was more than 50% in the southbound lane, with wheels pointed straight ahead, and 8456 was lined up perpendicular to Clement.

    Daylight photographs of 8456 show it stopped almost entirely in the southbound lane of 6th Av by the time it crushed the cyclist. Aligned in the oncoming traffic’s lane and wheels pointed straight.

    Nothing on scene to indicate to me that any swerving maneuver was in progress at the time of the collision, unless 8456 swerved right and then left, winding up dead straight ahead, after striking the cyclist.

    6)a Does MUNI train operators to swerve back and forth while/after striking a cyclist or pedestrian?

    6)b How many times do operators have to perform that manuever before they are determined to be proficient at it?

    If it is even safe to swerve, to begin with, if you are swerving to avoid a collision with another vehicle moving in the same general direction as you, but also moving across your initial path, then you are supposed to swerve in the direction that the other vehicle’s tail is pointing — which is where they are moving away from. If you swerve in the same direction as the head of the other vehicle, then you will be tracking into a collision, not avoiding one. You swerve to go opposite of where the other vehicle is going. You swerve toward where it has been. You swerve to miss, not to hit.

    But forget about the swerving.

    7)a When 8456 decided to pass 8420, did 8456 slow to well below 25 MPH while passing, in order to be able to control the bus in case there was a sudden need to stop — like anything/anyone in the blind spot ahead of 8420?

    One bus passing another bus has nothing to do with a person stepping in front of a moving train. The passing bus is only allowed to pass when it is safe to do, in a manner that is safe accoording to the conditions. If there are blind spots, and no flagman signaling all clear, then you absolutely must slow down. A bus is no train with no choice but to track.

    7)b At what speed did 8456 strike the cyclist?

    Dragged for 50′? If so, then >= 20-25MPH.

    There was always the risk of oncoming southbound traffic turning from Clement onto 6th Av, too.

    The only way anyone can control how soon they can stop is by controlling their speed. It does not matter how big or small the vehicle, that is the fundamental rule. Every MUNI operator who says a bus can’t stop on a dime has to be reminded that not even a car can stop on a dime from 25 MPH. The speed limit is only the limit, not the speed at which it is safe to proceed, which is often time less in The City. When a bus needs to be able to safetly stop quickly, it has to be going much slower than 25 MPH.

    If 8456 didn’t slow down to pass 8420, that would have been a very fatal error of judgement.

    MUNI claims that Safety is Job #1.

    There is NO WAY that Job #1 is Safety at MUNI.

    Job #1 is SPIN.

    Job #2 is Speed It Up!

    MUNI wants to speed up the busses in order to lower operating costs.

    MUNI wants to eliminate stop signs in order to speed up the busses.

    MUNI wants to eliminate bus stops to speed up the busses.

    MUNI would eliminate passengers, if it could, to speed up the busses.

    Too many MUNI route schedules do not allow MUNI operators anywhere near enough time to get from one end to the other safely and also meet their schedule. You might not be able to make some day routes in a car.

    MUNI has implemented a fare inspection system that stops busses dead in their routes. Yes, it does, but it doesn’t have to.

    While there are some negligent, and even routinely reckless, operators, MUNI’s safety problems are more the making of eggheads who have no idea how to make Safety Job #1. These eggheads use 20th century thinking, bolted onto barely 21st century tech, to come up with what we’ve got. Crap.

    Safety depends on Best of Class operator training and *screening*.

    The operators are the first and last line of defense, but only tactically. Tactics, no matter how heroic, can’t save a doomed strategy from failure.

    Safety depends on rock solid equipment maintenance.

    Not just the busses. Rapid and focused commnications with all assets in the field matters, too. Almost everything MUNI buys, MUNI allows to fall into tatters.

    Safety depends on pro-active traffic control in support of special MUNI circumstances.

    Even if that means pulling meter enforcement off of writing tickets, in order to control traffic, in an attempt to prevent collateral damage from breakdowns that increase the risks of collateral incidents. Whether or not we ever get a Yield to Transit Law in California, MTA must deliver pro-active traffic control support for MUNI, as part of protecting public safety.

    Safety depends on rapid response emergency towing and in-service equipment replacement.

    If MUNI doesn’t work to keep the road clear of its breakdowns, then MUNI is creating new and random hazards for all of us. Stranding passengers with equipment shortages does nothing for service or safety.

    8) How many Pillars of Safety has MUNI undermined? One? Two? All of them?

    Operator failure only accounts for part of one pillar. The vast majority of operators are doing the best that can be expected under the circumstances.

    “Restoring” service, without providing the necessary support for sustaining those routes through their forseeable operational contingencies, is short term stupid. It panders to the appearance of delivering service, but it will be damned unreliable service and it will be unsafe by design.

    If a butterfly beats its wings the wrong way somewhere that MUNI runs, MUNI service is disrupted, across large swaths of The City, for the remainder of the day. It’s all a joke, until it kills someone.

    9)a As MTA’s real estate occupancy goes up and the ratio of non-operating to operating staff increases, where does all of the money really go? (Whiz-bangy technology that doesn’t really work or save any money is part of the answer. How much does TransLink, er Clipper, really cost? No one has a real figure. Six-figure salaries are another Money Pit.)

    9)b While SFPD, SFFD, DPW and other city agencies have found ways and means of communicating with their mobile workforce, why does Central Control complain, for two decades, that it still can’t communicate with bus operators?

    10)a What is a firing offense at MUNI and MTA?

    10)b Why is fault only/mostly found with MUNI operators?

    10)c What penalties do any of the eggheads pay for their “insanely great” ideas that have failed over the past two decades?

    As for cyclists, in general, it is never a good idea to enter a lane of traffic from mid-block, let alone from between parked cars mid-block, unless you can see several hundred feet in all directions. You may be more maneuverable, but you KNOW you don’t have any acceleration. Yet, it happens in The City, more often than not, anyway. Seeing no threat, because of visual obstruction, is not the same as being able to see that there are indeed no threats.

    Then there’s cyclists vs pedestrians. The no stopping thing is just a downright stupid attitude in need of a deep correction. You are supposed to be biking for the exercise. That includes starting and stopping on the public roads according to signage/signals. That includes yielding to pedestrians on sidewalks and in crosswalks.

    No matter how many bad apples are out there, in every demographic, there is no one who deserves to die just for using the roads and sidewalks of The City. No one.

    The point of Safety is not to create paralysis.

    But when corners are cut, every day and in every way, in the name of lazy convenience and/or penny-wise/pound-foolishness, we make decent measures of Safety a lot less attainable than they really are.

    MUNI has been cutting corners for more than 20 years. Sure, there is going to be hell to pay fixing that.

    But MUNI isn’t fixing it.

  • Alex

    8420 arrived after 8456. My guess is that 8420 stopped as a result of 8456 having stopped.

  • Alex

    vehicle | reported_at | coordinates | speed_mph | heading
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:50:36-07 | 37.76547,-122.4664 | 19.26 | 357
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:50:55-07 | 37.77075,-122.46609 | 0.00 | 6
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:51:10-07 | 37.76579,-122.4664 | 0.00 | 357
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:51:47-07 | 37.76718,-122.46653 | 19.26 | 350
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:52:06-07 | 37.76855,-122.46791 | 27.34 | 305
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:52:26-07 | 37.77118,-122.46606 | 18.01 | 350
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:52:48-07 | 37.77181,-122.46635 | 22.97 | 341
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:52:48-07 | 37.77019,-122.46692 | 26.08 | 47
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:53:04-07 | 37.77193,-122.4664 | 31.05 | 341
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:53:43-07 | 37.7735,-122.46586 | 14.90 | 356
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:53:43-07 | 37.77366,-122.46592 | 18.01 | 349
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:54:02-07 | 37.77373,-122.46586 | 0.00 | 354
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:54:02-07 | 37.7748599,-122.46598 | 12.41 | 356
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:54:21-07 | 37.77521,-122.46601 | 1.86 | 358
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:55:23-07 | 37.7767,-122.46396 | 28.57 | 356
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:55:42-07 | 37.7754199,-122.46385 | 7.45 | 37
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:55:42-07 | 37.77713,-122.46396 | 0.00 | 359
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:56:14-07 | 37.7784199,-122.46409 | 31.05 | 357
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:56:34-07 | 37.78014,-122.46422 | 9.93 | 355
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:56:53-07 | 37.77714,-122.46399 | 0.00 | 359
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:56:59-07 | 37.78075,-122.46424 | 0.00 | 357
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:57:16-07 | 37.7789,-122.46413 | 19.26 | 357
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:57:37-07 | 37.78062,-122.46426 | 21.74 | 357
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:57:37-07 | 37.78189,-122.46435 | 27.34 | 356
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:58:39-07 | 37.7808599,-122.46423 | 0.00 | 218
    8456 | 2010-10-07 16:58:39-07 | 37.78231,-122.4644 | 0.00 | 357
    8420 | 2010-10-07 16:59:52-07 | 37.78207,-122.46436 | 0.00 | 357
    8456 | 2010-10-07 17:01:28-07 | 37.78231,-122.4644 | 0.00 | 357
    8420 | 2010-10-07 17:03:12-07 | 37.7821,-122.46434 | 0.00 | 357
    8456 | 2010-10-07 17:04:30-07 | 37.78231,-122.4644 | 0.00 | 357
    8420 | 2010-10-07 17:06:05-07 | 37.7821,-122.46434 | 0.00 | 357
    (31 rows)

    If this doesn’t get formatted properly, copy and paste it into something with a monospaced font.

  • Ailuropoda melanoleuca

    It’s only here in the comments section where I can find a personality about Derek. Hopefully there will be an obit and pictures for those of us who want to know more about the person we lost, instead of the technicalities in the way he was lost. He deserves a ghost bike, and it is already in place. RIP.

  • Nora

    Derek Allen was my step-son. He was only 22 and was a sensitive, bright and beautiful human being.
    As a family we are absolutely heartbroken.
    Derek’s father and I want to thank all the people that have left wonderful comments about Derek.
    We also want to thank all the people who have come forward with information about this accident.
    We desperately need to know what really happened. please come forward and let us know.
    We are heartbroken. God bless all the people who have written kind words.

  • Nora


    Thank you so much for all the information you are providing. We loved Derek so much. We are immensely grieving right now.

    However, we eventually do need to know exactly what happened.

    Will there be any possible way that I can directly speak with you?


  • DarkKnight

    [ My sincere advice to anyone who has suffered a loss is to retain *reputable* counsel and begin your own investigation into what happened. If you think that any wrong may have been done, there is just no waiting to begin this. Vehicles, especially secondaries, at accident scenes get moved, after the fact, all the time. Information becomes redacted or changes or disappears all the time. Plenty of bystanders were snapping photos, too — not me among them. I didn’t see SFPD shooting pictures, but they may have been done by the time I got there. ]
    [ I don’t put smiley-s in any of my posts, so I have no idea how that crap got into mine here. ]

    OK. So now we have a snapshot of some GPS data. Maybe, this is helpful; but, also, maybe not.

    All of the GPS data for the 44 line that day has to be snapshotted, to make sure that *none* of it changes, from 07 Oct, to whenever the “official story” is spun out. Bits get flipped all the time in a no-paper-trail digital world…

    So, then, this “data”…

    First, MUNI GPS is *notorious* for giving wrong, if not completely wrong, information, on any line, at any time of day.

    MUNI GPS has reported/recorded continuous movements of busses that physically do not exist in the field at the time of those phantom readings/recordings. Other instances have MUNI GPS reporting locations that are nearly 100m/1000yd off the true location of physical assets. Understand that before you trust MUNI GPS. (Or does anyone believe that the Clipper fare gates, or the original “TransLink” chipsets, are the only broken-tech that MUNI very merrily buys?)

    Also, turn the bus ignition off and almost every MUNI bus, that has a working, non-tampered GPS, drops off the GPS grid — that includes the “new” electric/diesel hybrids (8456 & 8450).

    So, I’m not about to accept the validity of MUNI GPS on MUNI’s say so, nor should any court of law. MUNI GPS is crap.

    It should always be on (it isn’t, even though that’s partly why batteries were invented, to supply power when mains are off). It should be tamper proof (perhaps, impossible to achieve in SF). And it must be reliably and relentlessly accurate (no moving civilian GPS is).

    Second, just sorting by GPS time stamps isn’t good enough, and redacting down to 8456 and 8420 is the wrong way to start. We first have to try to determine the ways MUNI GPS was glitching that day, which is more normal than most people know. You cast a broader data net to try to expose and account for those inconsistancies, before you can begin to trust the remaining data. I am not volunteering. (MUNI GPS is a waste of my time and tax payer dollars. Professional communications and control capabilities, which includes old-style MUNI Street Inspectors, are far more important than GPS alone, in my view.)

    Third, unless we are investigating off-route MUNI, we can set aside (not discard) Longitude (-122.#######) for the most part.

    That leaves Latitude (37.#####), which should be increasing, for an on route northbound 44. Larger latitude numbers means further northward, because EQUATOR is O Longitude. And the speed, if we can trust that, too.

    That said, here’s what I noticed about the dataset above.

    8456 steps on the gas: 27.34, 26.08, 31.05, 28.57, 31.05(!) MPH in
    residential neighborhoods. MUNI speeding through its route. That’s what MUNI wants, Speed It Up. Cars can’t stop on a dime at 25 MPH, and much less so can a bus, but Go MUNI.

    Most interesting: 27.34 MPH, @LAT37.78189 & @LONG-122.46435, before coming to a stop on 6th Av @LAT37.78231 & @LONG-122.4644. A sustained, dead stop, slightly west of where the bus more or less had been, running up to the accident.

    In the data set above, I only find 7 timed data pairings that are of any value in guessing about the relative placement of 8456 and 8420 on the nothrbound 44 route.

    In the first pairing, 8420 is 0.00162 degrees north of 8456, but it also looks from longitude that 8546 is 0.00057 degrees west of 8420. 28.08 MPH (8456) vs 22.97 MPH (8420). Anyone else want to bet, on potentially garbage data, that 8456 is overtaking and passing 8420 at 16:52:48-07h?

    From that point forward, the remaining 6 useful timed data pairings show 8456 *north* of 8420 on route.

    But, again, all of these datapoints are well within the ridiculous, real-word, “margins” of known error for MUNI GPS.

    MUNI damn well knows what the schedule was that day and which bus was supposed to be ahead and which bus was supposed to be behind. These two busses should have been running ~10 minutes apart according to the “theoretical” schedule.

    Central Control may not have known which bus actually was ahead and which bus was actually behind, at the time, especially if Central never gave 8456 permission to pass 8420. Another question to look into.

    If 8420 wound up 3-3.5 minutes behind 8456, then it came to its sustained stop on 6th Av 10 minutes before I came on scene and sometime less after SFPD closed 6th Av from Geary.

    I’m open to that possibility.

    That would mean 8456 was not passing a stopped/stalled bus on 6th Av. So, no blind spot, unless there was some other vehicle, of which no one has yet made any mention, that blocked 8456’s path and/or view of a cyclist using the road, and that other vehicle also left the scene before SFPD arrived. Thin, but also possible.

    So then, swerve left to avoid a northbound cyclist allegedly darting… which way? Darting left? (Making swerve left a lethal MUNI choice.) Darting right? (Making swerve left an option, but first, best option is to control the bus’ speed — and stop.) The implications I’ve read from media are cyclist northbound, darting left/west? But, as is the case with most media coverage of MUNI accidents, nothing exactly so precise was reported anywhere. Northbound, darting left/west is a rumor, for now.

    And where were 8456’s passengers?

    Dramatic swerving and/or stopping, but no riders treated at the scene for any injuries? Maybe no passengers onboard at all? Or they were all real lucky? (There are so many poles in the new hybrid diesel/electric busses, that it’s hard not to bump into them during extreme manuevers or routine leadfoot bus operation.) Maybe no heroic maneuvering?

    This accident looks even worse, in my estimation, if 8456 was passing nothing on 6th Av.

    Clear view, or not, on 6th Av, 27+ MPH on a 25 MPH street? Speeding to avoid a collision? To make swerving more heroic? Hydration issues? Nicotine twinges?

    Bad operational outcomes always track back to leadership, management, policies and practices.

    Operators always play a crucial and, sometimes decisive, tactical role in any given situation, but the operators do not dictate or choose the decades of strategies of failure that MTA/MUNI have chosen for all of us.

    Generally, we pay more and more for less, as all falls into further shambles. With a few Speed It Up boondoggles, here and there. This was true long before the lastest recession.

    Saftey on MUNI requires always controlling speed as one significant component of operations.

    Speeding up MUNI, without *all* of the the other pillars of Safety that I’ve mentioned above, also in place is homicidal. There is no way to safely speed up MUNI without professional command and control over assets. Effective, real-time communications plays a huge role in C&C, as does workforce discipline and morale.

    MUNI busses breaking speed limits happens way too often and absolutely has to stop.

    What is that garbage GPS doing reporting/recording MPH if the data is not going to be used to monitor and curb speed violations? (One possible answer is that MUNI already knows that MUNI GPS is crap.)

    But the eggheads who run the show know far better than the rest of us.

    Some one has calculated that it is still cheaper to pay out settlements, and buy gobs of garbage tech geegaws, rather than really make Saftey Job #1 for MUNI.

  • Jan

    Does anyone know where he went to high school? The administrators would want to know, I’m sure.

  • Alex

    I’m perfectly aware that GPS is imprecise. Based on my observations, the glitches with the NextBus system, however, appear to happen in rather well defined ways. Entry/exit of the tunnels will often put the train at the portal for hours at a time. There are generally 3-5 vehicles a day moving in excess of one hundred miles per hour… supposedly. Sometimes vehicles will get placed on buildings, and almost always you’ll get unevenly spaced (timewise) vehicle reports. Sometimes it’ll be a bunch of reports at the same time (+/- a few seconds) at the same location and same (non-zero) speed. Stuff like that.

    I’m sure there are any number of ways to fill in the blanks and improve precision, but likely not in real-time. For my purposes I don’t care a whole lot about the blanks, don’t want duplicates at all, and want to deal with as little data as possible. And, this isn’t a court of law. So in the end I throw out a fair amount of data. That said, when I see a progression of two vehicles that appear to stay mostly on route, I’m inclined to believe that it’s accurate enough to come to this conclusion: 8456 was not passing 8420.

    If you wanted to be more precise you could certainly request the data yourself (from NextBus or from the MTA with a FOIA request). I believe NextBus will record the run number (but doesn’t really make this public) as well, and that would give you a good indication of intended order. Of course if someone managed to take a picture of the front or back of the buses, you could get that info just as easily.

    That said I don’t think that 30mph in a 25mph zone is hideously unsafe. I worry far more about the buses hitting 50-60mph, or otherwise behaving erratically regardless of speed. The impression I get (but have not verified) is that the speed glitches aren’t small, they’ll mostly be very large glitches. Quite frankly even if it’s only precise to +/- 5mph, I’d be okay with that. At the end of the day I’d be most happy to see the drivers consistently stop at stop signs and red lights.

    If you want to know why the GPS data is not used for disciplinary action look no further than the TWU. It’s in their contract. They simply refuse to be held accountable for their actions. It’s the same reason why they chuck out anonymous complaints. Red light cameras or no, safe driving or no, the TWU wants to ensure that as many of their members remain employed as possible. Supposedly the supervisor types put up a big stink about GPS devices in their trucks too.

    In any case, the idea that deviating from a specific set of emotional responses indicates culpability is horse shit plain and simple.

  • Mom

    Nora, my son and his roommates were the last to be with Derek on Thursday. If you would like to speak with them, contact me at My sincerest condolences to you and your family.

  • Friend

    Derek was a 2006 graduate of Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, CA.

    RIP Derek.

  • Another Pleasanton Mom

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I’m sorry for your loss.

  • Friend

    I will miss you Derek. You were a cool guy and a really good person. You will be missed greatly.

  • Nora


    Thank you so much. I have written you an e-mail. Yes, we want to talk with Derek’s frinds. Please have them call me.

    God bless all of you for writing. We loved Derek so much.

    We will soon be posting all the information on the services for Derek.

    Thank you all for your loving words about Derek. We will miss him forever.

  • Nora

    Matthew Roth,

    Would you be so kind as to contact me. Bryan wanted to do a story on Derek.
    I would like to forward the pictures and a tribute to Derek.
    Thank you so much

  • LB


    My condolences for your loss. A good friend of mine went to school with Derek since the second grade. She was distraught to hear the news and has been in a daze since. I personally know how it feels to lose a family member so tragically at such a young age. My friend recommended I’d reach out on her behalf to see if I can be of any legal assistance as we specialize in wrongful death suits. Please let me know. Our prayers are with you and your family.

  • Mick


    Ambulance chasing here is highly objectionable. That is beyond tasteless. It is morally repugnant.


    In honor of Derek’s of Life and to pay tribute to his passion for the Visual Arts, this Memorial Fund in his name will help fund the Ceramics Program at Amador Valley High School. Derek spent his high school years in this program that meant so very much to him and helped mold his amazing natural artistic talents. A vibrant, meaningful contribution will be made and inspiring stories about Derek with be shared among the teachers and students for many years to come. If you’d like to share in honoring Derek’s memory and Support the Arts as Derek did please feel free to donate below to Amador Valley High School Ceramics.

  • LB


    I agree with you totally. Personally, I can’t stand ambulance chasers myself. However, I am not a lawyer nor did I mention anything about legal representation. Any legal consulting or assistance offered to Derek’s family is for “free” given on behalf of a good friend who helped me when I needed her. She was totally distraught about what happened to Derek. I told her if there’s anything I could do for you, name it!

    I myself have personally experienced a tragic loss of the same magnitude so I totally understand what Dereks family is going through. Mick, I pray that you don’t recieve “that call!” and God forbid if you do, let me know how I can help you too “for free!”

  • Family

    Celebration of the life of
    Derek A. Allen
    Saturday, October 16, 2010, 11:30 am

    Music Before the Service
    Slide Presentation
    Music Amazing Grace Piper

    Entrance: I am Resurrection BCP. 491
    Cantor: Elaine Snyder

    Priest: The Lord be with you
    People: And also with you
    Priest: Let us pray

    Collect for Celebration of Life BCP 493

    A Native American Reading Gail Cropley

    Psalm 46 BCP 649 Jeanne D.

    Gospel Reading John 14:1-5

    Jesus said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.

    Memories of Derek Karen Haley Allen
    Bob Hardy

    Music The Awakening Jason Gluck

    Celebrations from the congregation

    Reading Psalm 121 Jay Blank

    Reading: Final Analysis(Mother Teresa) Lola Bullock

    Prayers for Derek BCP p. 497 Derek’s Friend

    “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” Elaine Snyder

    Commendation BCP p. 499

    Recessional: Amazing Grace Piper

    Derek’s Family welcomes everyone to this celebration of Derek’s life, Our service today uses the traditional Episcopal Liturgy and incorporates other traditions as well, reflecting Derek’s inclusive life-style.

    Saint Clare’s Episcopal Church
    3350 Hopyard
    Pleasanton, CA

    Family and friends can make contributions in Derek’s memory at:

  • danny

    Muni drivers are mad!! I knew this would happen one day, and that is why I no longer bike. Muni drivers take complete control of the roads, and are not courteous to anyone else

  • ex MUNI ee

    As a former SFMTA employee I unfortunately know all too much about the issues, history and inner workings of MUNI raised in this blog discussion. What I’d hoped would be an exciting job — serving in the City of SF’s public transit system (a cause dear to me) — turned into a personal nightmare. I became seriously ill fr the stress of going up against deaf ears w/ my suggestions to improve archaic processes/procedures in Human Resources, Operations, etc which govern MUNI’s ‘work rules’; and was forced to resign @ 20 months ago, just as the job market tanked. I’ve been unemployed ever since. Regardless of who or what was at fault in this unfortunate accident, it was a tragic occurrence and my deep condolences go out to Derek’s friends/family. Thank you

  • All of us would be very much interested in learning more about the inner workings of the MTA, especially about the work rules. You would be doing a public service by telling your story here.

  • ex MUNI ee

    Perhaps the reporter who covered this story can contact me, confidentially. Another SF Chronicle reporter who’s extensively covered/explained goings-on at MUNI is Rachel Gordon. All MUNI union contracts, work rules, etc. are on public record, under ‘sunshine’ rules; they’re just very hard to understand, arcane, and poorly written. I came to understand that for MUNI drivers it’s all about seniority, which determines bidding order on driving runs that pay most (nights/weekends/layovers/’built in overtime’, etc); all according to bargained union contract. Changes in ‘work rules’ could give MUNI mgr’s more say in determining shifts (eg use part time drivers — who don’t rvc full benefits –to help eliminate need for ‘OT’ pay.) Part timers were used extensively in the past; this was not terribly efficient either, esp w/ two separate hiring processes/exams — one for F/T, one for P/T– w/ the exact same people applying for both. A Transit Operator recruitment could take over a year, due to sheer volume of applicants, outdated civil service exam and hiring systems, multiple layers of MUNI regulations, applicable FTA rules; etc. Only w/in the last decade did the MUNI Transit Operator job require a high school degree; so many of the senior drivers + many now in supervisory positions, never completed high school. This is one reason, I believe, that senior MUNI drivers welcome protection offered by union-dictated work rules rewarding seniority/longevity above all. Also, any account of railways/public transit in the U.S. recognizes the historic importance of railways as a pioneer in the employment of African-Americans; and I saw a racial-distrust element w/in MUNI’s workforce and behind MUNI’s problems, that no one wants to talk about, also a ton of ‘cronyism’….

  • I am an S.F. attorney who currently represents a bicyclist hit by a MUNI coach. The SFPD investigation found that my client was at fault because he darted out into an intersection and was hit by the bus. Representatives of the SFPD reported to the family that my client ran into the back of the bus.

    The truth of the matter was revealed by the on-board MUNI camera. The tape showed the bus beginning approximately one-half mile before the accident. The tape showed that the bus ran every stop sign including the stop sign at the intersection where the accident occurred. The tape also revealed that the driver accelerated the bus as he ran the stop sign before the accident and that he made an illegal left turn before hitting my client riding in the crosswalk.

    Two Lessons. First, in any case of a MUNI coach accident, a copy of the coach’s video should be requested immediately using the Sunshine Ordinance. These tapes may be erased/re-recorded within a few days, so it is important to request a copy as soon as possible.

    Second, do not trust or rely upon the SFPD to determine the cause of a MUNI accident. There is a close and ongoing relationship between the SFPD and the SFMTA/MUNI. SFMTA pays the SFPD millions of dollars per year for police services. This relationship plus the fact that they are both creatures of the City and County of San Francisco have unfortunately compromised the integrity of SFPD Traffic Collision Reports for accidents involving MUNI. I would suggest that the victim, his family or his attorney immediately retain the services of an independent accident reconstruction engineer if there is any doubt about the cause of the accident.


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