Driver Kills Cyclist Charles Vinson, 66, at 14th and Folsom

14th and Folsom Streets. Photo: Google Maps

Update: SFPD issued a response below.

Charles Vinson, 66, was struck by a driver at 14th and Folsom Streets in the Mission yesterday and died from his injuries today. A witness saw the driver of a Honda Civic “blow through a red light and strike the bicyclist as the bicyclist waited for the light to turn green,” according to the Examiner. Vinson suffered traumatic head injuries, and was wearing a helmet.

SF Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Noah Budnick called for a moment of silence for Vinson today at an SFMTA Board hearing on the redesign for a safer Polk Street.

“Mr. Vinson’s passing is sadly the latest example of the growing public demand for safe cycling that’s outpacing the city’s work to provide that space for them,” said Budnick.

When asked for confirmation of the witness report and information on any charges filed against the driver, SFPD spokesperson Grace Gatpandan issued this statement:

I don’t have any information yet on any citations or charges, but with any investigation, should the facts lead to an arrest/citation of one party, the officers will do just that. As far as the witness reports, the investigating officers are still working on determining who was at fault and I cannot confirm if the driver ran the red light.

  • EastBayer

    Of course, the author phrased it awkwardly and passively. Try “Are you aware that…motorists kill more pedestrians than cyclists?”

  • GetHubNub

    What I’m saying is our choices lead to these accidents. Think before you decide which path to take somewhere.

  • GetHubNub

    The reason their dangerous is this is a highly populated city. You can’t afford to be arrogant with a bad attitude that can lead to a bad outcome. If you blame the car driver you’ll attract that kind of energy you’re always looking for. It’s up to us and our decisions much of the time. I wouldn’t have taken that road he was on personally.

  • GetHubNub

    That’s an unfair comparison. Bad decisions lead to bad outcomes.

  • GetHubNub

    Who said he deserved it? I’m just saying don’t make it so easy to get hit by a car and stop holding the driver entirely responsible. It goes both ways.

  • GetHubNub

    No, just a way for me to emphasize bad decisions lead to bad outcomes. Just be careful what road you choose, consider a certain amount of accidents happen at certain intersections in this city. There’s a map online to show the most dangerous areas.

  • GetHubNub

    Death can come to any of us without warning. I was hit by a car in 2012 and woke up at SF Gen for two weeks without memory of it. One day I was riding on a beautiful summer day to the Marina and the next I was waking up to a doctor stitching up my forehead. My bad decision was to take a ride to Trader Joes that day when I didn’t have to be doing that.

    I had no medical insurance and $255,000 bill. So don’t be so cocky out there, I notice an incredible amount of arrogance among bicyclists who have no fear of death out there doing all kinds of stunts (not to mention skate boardists).

  • That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, cyclists are so out of control in San Francisco that stopping at a red light is considered a stunt.

  • SFnative74

    You’re right. He should never have left his house. Like those people who have been hit by out of control drivers while standing at a bus stop. They need to shoulder some of the blame for standing there in the first place.

  • murphstahoe

    14th is a very tame street used by flotillas of cyclists. It is the primary route from the Mission towards Caltrain.

  • murphstahoe

    Shut up troll. The driver ran a red light = 100% responsible.

  • murphstahoe

    Police report or it didn’t happen.

  • Sprague

    Please do not blame the victim. He and his family and friends have already suffered too much. Also, if I understand you correctly, this bicyclist would not have been killed if he was younger??!?? The more people (of all ages) that get out and bike the safer it will be.

  • Sprague

    Both 14th Street and Folsom have bike lanes at this location. By design, bicyclists are encouraged to ride here. Unfortunately, too many motorists disregard the safety of others (especially those more vulnerable – pedestrians and cyclists) and fail to recognize their potential to kill and maim.

  • SFnative74

    By your “logic,” you know who else are cocky? Anyone who leaves their home thinking that they shouldn’t get hit by a driver. And by your logic, if something bad happens to someone, they made a bad decision to be in that spot at that moment. Got jumped? You made a bad decision for walking down that sidewalk that day. Hit by a car even though you were doing everything predictably and safely? You shouldn’t have been in front of that distracted driver. By taking your logic a small step further, you shouldn’t leave your house, otherwise you’re asking for it and are to be blamed for whatever happens. And if you think walking around and being in fear of death is a healthy way of living, you have a twisted approach to life. As a society, we are so quick to blame the victim that I am starting to think of it as a societal psychosis. In this case, you may be the ONLY person blaming the victim, which says a lot about you.

  • StrixNoctis .

    You sound like you’re trying to blame cyclists, but here in SF much fewer cyclists get into collisions with motor vehicles than motor vehicles do with each other. The significantly highest number of collisions being between motor vehicles screams where the major fault is.

  • Anthony R

    Stockholm syndrome, car culture so pervasive cyclist blames himself for riding. Doesn’t even mention driver.

  • StrixNoctis .

    In recent past months, there was a rash of reports of motor vehicles crashing into buildings here in SF and other Bay Area locations, so it’s possible a person could even get injured by a Bay Area motorist while sitting indoors on the toilet reading the newspaper!

  • StrixNoctis .

    Here in SF, the present-day motorists even drive fast through the narrow streets and around the corners that are sharp turns, and I can’t fathom why! Back in the very early 90s and prior, when SF was less populated, very few motorists drove so fast & recklessly through the residential areas of SF. Now this city is more populated, but motorists drive fast when they should be driving slower or the reasonable speeds that SF motorists used to.

  • Anthony R

    If your opinion is so humble why bother sharing it?

  • StrixNoctis .

    Yeah, the irrelevance acts as a smoke screen from the original topic and has me thinking he might be a motorist pretending to be a cyclist.

    The article is about a decent cyclist who followed the rules and was a benefit to our society but got removed from this world by a motorist who evidently didn’t drive safely.

  • @gneiss – Even with material evidence in the form of a video showing the “ran a red light” witness herself, entering the crosswalk during a yellow light, those charges were pursued.

  • I know @keenplanner and he is the real deal. What he’s written here is entirely sincere.

  • Let’s not be hasty here. Was the building wearing a helmet? Was the toilet high-viz?

  • Alicia

    It’s a perfectly fair comparison! The bike rider was riding in a legal and responsible manner. The car driver broke the law. Put blame where blame is due.

  • clementgarnier

    No you’re still wrong. The careless driver killed him, period.

  • NoeValleyJim

    Looks like another senseless and preventable tragedy without any charges, any arrest, anything at all done to prevent another death on our streets by our political leadership. I can’t even find an obituary.

  • jd_x

    Absolutely disgusting. Aaron: any follow-up on this incident?

  • jd_x

    Not period. You can’t design roads to inadequately protect cyclists and then not hold that poor infrastructure, to some degree, accountable. The driver is much more accountable, but the crappy infrastructure also must take some blame.

    For example, you know those guard rails on cliffs like on Highway 1? By your logic, we should remove those, because if drivers are paying attention and driving with care and skill, you don’t just go flying off the road. Yet we do put them there because we acknowledge that road design can change the outcome of situations when people screw up. We build in margins of safety so that when somebody screws up, we diminish the severity of the outcome. Same reason we have concrete medians in freeways. Or back-up alarms on trucks. Or seatbelts. Or air bags. See where this goes?

    If you think it’s okay that roads should be designed so cyclists should have to stand in front of 4000 lb vehicles with hundreds of horsepower and distracted drivers, and then when a case like this presents itself, and you don’t think that kind of crappy design is at all partially responsible, then you are unable to think outside of our car-centric design where the true solutions to dangerous streets lie.

  • No obituary, no ghost bike. Why do we treat our dead cyclists way? Other major cities put out white ghost bikes and leave them at the scene of bicycle fatalities as a reminder and a memorial. We need to start putting out ghost bikes in San Francisco where cyclists are killed, so that maybe people will wake up to this problem.

  • Anthony R

    There is a ghost bike there. SFDPW removes the bikes periodically, SF Yellow Bike has taken the lead on placing them. Ride of Silence seeks to draw attention. Ride with us May 20 to honor those killed and injured on bikes.

  • Lego


  • clementgarnier

    I agree with most of the points you’re making. Of course there are certainly a bunch of factors that led to this accident, I am not denying that. Now, we should be able to discuss it without diminishing the driver’s responsibility, which I think is what the wording “the city-designed placement of the bike in the road killed him” implies.

    Just like with any other crime – because yes, it absolutely is a crime – we can discuss the context and look for explanations, but they should not be presented as excuses.

    Also, as others have pointed out, there are indeed bike lanes at this location. And this is actually a good proof that bike lanes are helpless as long as drivers are careless.

    A bike lane doesn’t prevent someone to door you.
    A bike lane doesn’t prevent a pedestrian to appear between two parked cars while jaywalking.
    A bike lane doesn’t prevent a car to struck you at an intersection.

    The only way to prevent all of the above: people – drivers, cyclists, pedestrians – conscious about those dangers, paying close attention to other people and vehicles surrounding them. And it all boils down to having a reasonable speed.

  • Have there been any charges in this incident?

  • joechoj

    I like much of what you say. To be clear, I don’t present it as an either/or decision. In my eyes, highlighting one commonly overlooked cause doesn’t diminish another cause. Yes, absolutely let’s blame the driver!! But history shows that our enforcement and punishment is almost universally lacking in these cases. My argument is – if the goal is protecting cyclists – that blaming the drivers gets us nowhere. No harsher punishments, no increase in prosecution rates, no increase in policing the bike-injury hotspot. The only way I can see to *ensure* safety gains for people on bikes is to hard-code them into the streets with physical separation.

  • baklazhan

    Four months later, are there any updates from the police?


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