Today’s Headlines

  • Buried in Muni Shooting Story: DA Gascón Blames Emily Dunn for Getting Hit by Muni Driver (SFGate)
  • Still Unclear if BART, Unions Will Come to Agreement by Midnight (SFGate, SF Examiner, SF Weekly)
  • C.W. Nevius Has Difficulty Using Bay Area Bike Share (SFGate)
  • 7×7 Profiles Some of the Key Recent Players in the SF Bike Movement
  • KTVU Fails to Question Legitimacy of SFFD’s Fears About Narrower Minimums for Road Widths
  • SFPD, AT&T Use Simulator Show Washington High Students Dangers of Driving and Texting (ABC)
  • Driver Takes Out Hydrant, Streetlight, and Median on Geary Near Park Presidio (Richmond SF)
  • An Update on the Ongoing Replacement of Doyle Drive (Marin IJ)
  • San Carlos Mother Leads Group Walk on Walk/Roll to School Day — Beware of Drivers, Notes KRON
  • San Carlos Planning Commission Approves Transit Village Development (SM Daily Journal)
  • City Planners in Half Moon Bay Look to Make Crossings Safer on Highway 1 (Peninsula Press)
  • Cloverdale Driver Charged With Veh. Manslaughter for Killing Woman While Not Wearing Glasses (PD)

More headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill

  • mikesonn

    I’m now convinced Gascon gets incentive based bonuses for blaming the victim.

  • BikePundit

    Alternative title for the Bike Share article:

    C.W. Nevius and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

  • biking in SF

    Re the SFFD story by KTVU, the SFFD acts as if their needs are the only public safety needs in the city and fail to recognize that the ped and bike measures they complain about result in fewer injuries and deaths. How many people are hurt by fires vs hurt by traffic crashes? Thankfully, Sup Wiener is balancing out SFFD’s incredibly myopic view of safety and supporting important safety improvements to our streets. I’ll trade safer streets for an 8 second drop in response time, and I say that as a property owner who may need SFFD’s help in a fire.

  • Anonymous

    KTVU story: “Bicycle lanes are making it impossible for emergency responders to navigate through city streets!” Cut to video of fire trucks squeezing past angled parking spots and double parked cars. *facepalm*

  • Anonymous

    Also, getting more people out of cars and onto bikes, transit, or their own two feet makes it significantly less likely that a fire truck will be slowed by congestion or gridlock. In the video I didn’t hear a single SFFD rep mention bike or ped infra as the problem, though, so that might have just been KTVU’s spin/agenda for the piece.

  • mikesonn

    One SFFD driver did mention bike lanes and medians.

  • Anonymous

    His quote had notable similarities to the messed-up logic that blames sexual assault survivors for their own assaults based on their wardrobes.

  • Anonymous

    Fewer ped accidents has the effect of *reducing* response times because SFFD ends up responding to those incidents. Reduce the stress on those resources and they work better.

  • Rogue Cyclist

    I guess I had a bad day using bike share for the first time
    too. It took me a good 10 mins to click through the series of screens. Trying
    to read the entire rental contract on that little screen with the commotion of
    Market St going on around me was brutal. It took me a while to find the keypad too. Then I couldn’t undock my bike. Eventually I figured
    out that I had to lift the back wheel while pulling out [insert sexual comment

    Docking my bike turned out to be another ordeal. Apparently I didn’t dock right because the
    green light didn’t pop on. I was then
    charged the $150 late fee a couple weeks later.
    Customer service was nice about it and cut it in half.

    All for a 24 hour membership. Fun ride though.

  • Andy Chow

    If a car driven by a drunk driver hit another vehicle and one of the occupant of the other vehicle got killed for being thrown out of the vehicle. That occupant got thrown out because he wasn’t wearing the seat belt. Am I blaming the victim by saying that he would’ve survived if he had worn the seat belt?

    Shouldn’t we be looking both ways before crossing the street like wearing a seat belt when we get into a car, or wearing a helmet when biking? You may not be at fault but those defensive measures can become the only factor between none or minor injuries and serious injuries or death.

  • mikesonn

    You just don’t give up, do you?

  • Anonymous

    Recent news stories, including one today (above), seem to indicate SF needs a different mayor, district attorney, and police chief, if we are ever to change over to a culture of safe streets for all. All three of these men pay lip service to safety, but blame inattentive pedestrians and law-breaking bicyclists for the collisions they suffer with car drivers, even if the drivers are at fault. None takes double parking, speeding, and pedestrian right-of-way infractions seriously. And none has shown leadership in pushing for changes to street design, such as insisting on significant new funding for wide sidewalks and protected bike lanes. Elections should have consequences. Here’s looking at 2015!

  • biking in SF

    I’d blame the drunk driver first.

  • biking in SF

    SFFD – this probably happened because someone was speeding. If traffic calming measures are in place, you don’t have to respond to as many messes as this. Thankfully no one was hurt this time:

  • Mario Tanev

    Re: Gascon blaming Emily Dunn

    I think “make sure you look before and as you cross” doesn’t rise to blaming the victim to me. Don’t get me wrong, Gascon has a windshield perspective and likes to blame the victim and I don’t agree with him on that. But if any deaths can be prevented by making all participants more aware on the street, that’s a good thing.

  • mikesonn

    “She never saw it coming,” he said. “Had she looked up just once, she would be alive today.”

    That’s victim blaming. The driver was CLEARLY at fault, beyond all doubt, but Gascon just can’t grasp that.

  • 94103er

    No, it’s really not a good thing unless we’re talking about educating little kids. (Even in that instance, I get angry about street design, because if all intersections were daylit we wouldn’t have trouble seeing a short person who wants to cross the street.)

    We all know who wins if we step in the path of a moving vehicle. But what is so damn messed up in this country (and many others) is that we only pay lip service to pedestrians having right of way. What that really should mean is that if you choose to operate a vehicle, you have absolute liability and duty of care. You do not get a free pass if you make a mistake. Think about a workplace with heavy machinery–are you allowed to get a free pass if you kill a coworker?

    And yet. Somehow by simply walking–the most natural of activities–the burden’s still on us to anticipate a left-turning bus coming up from behind? Have you paid full attention crossing every minor street in your entire life? It doesn’t matter that Emily was looking at her phone. She could’ve been looking at her watch if this were 20 years ago, or just thinking about something else.

    And by the way, police have been known to blame the victim even when someone’s hit while walking on the sidewalk. So it’s not a question of ‘paying attention’–it’s tolerating our culture being enslaved by fuel-powered vehicles.

  • Mario Tanev

    There is a question as to whether what Gascon said was factual. Was this accident avoidable if she saw the bus (and is it true she didn’t see the bus)? If there is no evidence to that, then I would agree Gascon is just victim-blaming.

    But if there is evidence to that, then I am not sure it is victim-blaming. Certainly, the driver is at fault, and the article says as much, but it doesn’t mean that it may not have been preventable by the pedestrian. Certainly a blind person wouldn’t have the opportunity to even see the bus, so the driver is at fault no matter what. But NOT everything is out of our control. And clearly, cell phones are a distraction that detracts from our ability to protect ourselves.

    To elucidate this point: are those ads telling Muni riders to be on the lookout when using their phone about blaming the victim? Clearly, Muni riders who get their phones stolen are victims and don’t deserve it, but does that mean they can’t exercise some caution and protect themselves from the failure of society?

    I think it is important to call out when our institutions blame the victim. Our government likes to think of itself as “fixing” things. Sometimes it finds the wrong things to “fix” because of biases and false intuitions and we need to re-channel their intentions into the right fix. But there will always be situations which can be prevented by the victim, and those “fixers” can’t get that nagging feeling out of them. We need to guide them to prioritize fixes that address the long-term problem: our culture of inattention on the road by drivers. And in their spare time they can also target some other ways to minimize death (such as telling people to be more aware at all times).

  • “You would have survived the situation you were put in by an idiot driver had you worn your safety device. You should have anticipated it, but it’s not your fault you’re dead.”

  • mikesonn

    “And by the way, police have been known to blame the victim even when someone’s hit while walking on the sidewalk.”

    Reminds me of the principal at the school in NYC where the 5 kids were hit on the sidewalk, she sent out a letter to parents telling them to make sure their kids don’t walk with headphones in – none of the kids hit were wearing headphones.

  • Mario Tanev

    I think context is important here. This article was written in reference to an incident where a gunman went unnoticed by many people. Only in that context did Gascon bring up a case he also believed (unclear if correctly or wrongly) was avoidable by the victim. In that context, he is correct: victims can do certain things to minimize their chance of being a victim.

    But do you think this article is trying to deflect blame away from the gunman? I don’t think so, and that’s why I don’t view it as victim-blaming. Victim-blaming is when the institutions find PRIMARY fault in the victim. This is not the case here: in fact, the driver that killed Emily Dunn was prosecuted.

  • Anonymous

    @94103er:disqus Great points and well said. I totally agree. However, I’m kinda with @mariotanev:disqus on this particular one as, though Gascon is usually completely guilty of blaming the victim, I don’t think this is a great example of that.

  • gneiss

    Because our legal and insurance system has developed the theory of ‘contributory negligence’ in crashes we have been brainwashed into thinking that victims are somehow at least partly to blame for their own injuries even when fault clearly lies with the other party. While I agree that a person walking against a light or riding a bicycle through a red is to blame for their injuries in a crash, implying that not taking safety precautions when they legally have the right of way is a trick used to reduce damages in civil litigation. However, assigning blame for the error or negligent act which caused the crash, is based on a different set of facts, which should not intrude on the facts of the injuries sustained by either party.

    Unfortunately contributory negligence has bled over into criminal traffic proceedings as well, so the police end up disproportionately assigning blame to vulnerable users for not “looking out” or armoring up into a car rather than walking across a street or biking down one. even when the other party is totally at fault. This is completely at odds with the reality of the situation, which is without the 3,000 metal device driven by a negligent or careless person, there would have been no injuries. The higher duty to care should really go to the party that has the greater potential for damage – not the more vulnerable. It just shows how backwards we have our priorities.

  • mikesonn

    Just like Rob Anderson has said about the kid run over at the East Bay school: “If they kid wasn’t riding a bike, he’d still be alive today.”

  • It’s not black and white. I believe it IS OK to tell people to watch out for the Death Monsters. I think that the strength of reaction here has to do with the constant drumbeat of “watch out, watch out, watch out” coming from our officials, especially.
    You could take any item from your local police blotter and find things the victim did that could be approved upon–though sometimes you’re going to be going pretty far: she shouldn’t have lingered at her front gate, she should have had her keys ready and the grocery bag well balanced and probably shouldn’t have left the house with a cell phone after 5pm anyway. But, especially when you stop there, there are a lot of other things which were far more important to the story: the lost bus driver running over someone in a crosswalk that had right of way, the mugger that has been hanging out for 4 hours looking for someone to take 3 extra seconds getting in their front door, etc.

    How visible and aware do I have to be to not be criticized when someone threatens/hurts/kills me by behavior that is found negligent/dangerous/culpable in a court of law?

    What if I’m visible and aware and just not quite fast enough to jump out of the way of a bus? Do I get blamed for carrying too much in my backpack? Will you blame my employer for not shelling out more money for a cheaper laptop?

    I wonder if Gascón would say the same about looking up to make sure the intersection is clear before stepping off the curb when the crosswalk sign says walk. You know, just to make sure there are no vehicles which have right of way still in the intersection who may have their Strava turned on.

  • Princess Di would be alive if she had been wearing a seatbelt…I worked at a company that did some investigation and video rendering for that. OK. I think it would be possible to set up an explanation of either situation where you point out that seat belts save lives even in situations that are completely not one’s fault.

    There’s some separation there: Situation which causes danger; behavior which may improve one’s outcome in such a situation.

    Teaching defensive driving isn’t blaming the victim–it’s also all hypothetical.

    Sure, I recommend looking both ways even when crossing a one-way street, wear my seat belt, wear a bright yellow bike helmet most of the time when I ride my bike even though that’s not required and I’ve covered it with reflective bits & front and back lights for night visibility and Swarovski crystals for visibility during the day. (If I run into someone else who isn’t as visible as me, I may question their commitment to sparkle motion.)

    And a single instance that is properly placed in context isn’t quite the same as a drum beat of finger pointing. I’m not sure if Gascôn is the one that provided all the disclaimer context there or the reporter. For someone involved in legal work, I’m somewhat surprised at his definitive statements of how she would have time to see, recognize, and avoid that bus. I’m not sure why the only thing we seem to see is ‘potential victim educating’ and nary a word for those who are oblivious AND in control of a giant machine.

  • Anonymous

    Just think. An annual membership is $88

  • Mario Tanev

    That’s completely different. Saying that pedestrians should look out for traffic is different than saying that pedestrians should just stay home. Obviously both would prevent pedestrian accidents, but having to stay home would have a huge negative impact on the quality of life of the pedestrian. Any comments regarding the existence of a certain class is discriminatory. It would backfire in terms of safety in the long term because everyone driving will lead to higher speeds and thus to more accidents.

    Saying the pedestrians should look out for traffic does not even discourage being a pedestrian. And since the pedestrian is not guilty, the only penalty for NOT looking out for traffic is increased chance by death by a reckless individual in a tin can. So, it’s hard for me to see how this hurts pedestrians UNLESS it is used to reduce the guilt of the driver.

  • Annual member here. I did have a bit of trouble the first couple of times, but once I realised you have to be quite firm when docking the bike, it became easier.
    New BABS slogan: Don’t be shy, ram it in hard.

  • If I hadn’t bought a helmet, I would have broken even by now, based on bus fares saved. Another couple of months and I’ll be clear.

  • The Overhead Wire

    You know in Japan they just buy smaller trucks. This need for huge fire trucks is a waste. Fire service shouldn’t be the city design code.