What Happened to the Term “Allegedly” When it Comes to Cyclists?

Press Tries and Convicts Bike Rider Without Evidence after Collision at 24th and Guerrero

Peter Bagain, owner of a deli just north of the intersection, pointing at the dried blood still on the street. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
Peter Bagain, owner of a deli just north of the intersection, pointing at the dried blood still on the street. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Tuesday morning at around 11, a cyclist collided with a motor vehicle that was heading north on Guerrero at the intersection with 24th.

Peter Bagain, the owner of Jump Start Coffee and Groceries, across from where the collision occurred, “heard what sounded like two cars hitting each other.” He ran outside and saw the aftermath. “I saw the guy on the ground, blood gushing.”

He didn’t see the crash, so he can only speculate about who was at fault.

But the press seemed to know already. Here’s the Examiner’s headline from yesterday:

Examinerheadline2

How did they know the cyclist ran the red light? A couple of paragraphs down, we see the word “allegedly” and the phrase “according to police.”

But with that headline, the damage was already done.

Our friends at Hoodline wrote in the body of their story that a “…bicyclist ran a red light [emphasis added] at the intersection of Guerrero and 24th St. and struck a car.” That bit of information wasn’t even attributed to anyone.

The intersection, looking north, during a rare break in speeding traffic. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
The intersection, looking north, during a rare break in speeding traffic. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

As Streetsblog has reported previously, police have a bad habit of writing one-sided reports based on interviews with the motorist, since the cyclist is usually incapacitated, at best, and incapable of giving a statement. That’s a systemic problem and if the mainstream press doesn’t want to go there, fine, maybe that’s our job–but they should at least stick to attributing information to police statements rather than stating them as absolute.

Or, as Mike Skalnik posted on the San Francisco Bike Ride Crew Facebook page, “Maybe wait for more details to come out before shaming the dude in the hospital.”

For the record, here are more details about the crash: Luis Sanjose, the manager of Fiore Cafe on the southeast corner of the intersection, showed Streetsblog some security video that captured part of the intersection at the time of the crash. He said that nobody else has seen his video. Although the impact occurred outside of the frame and the bicycle was not visible, the traffic light is visible, along with cars stopping and people looking (towards the sound of an impact presumably), standing, and running towards something across the intersection. And yes, going by that video evidence, and some consistent hearsay about witness statements, it seems likely that the cyclist ran a solid red light.

Either way, Sanjose said he’s seen six crashes since 2010 and he wants something done to make the intersection safer.

“People get off San Jose and continue driving like this is a freeway,” said Bagain, pointing at the cars on Guerrero street, all clearly going faster than the 25 mph posted speed limit. “If I were a cop I could stand here all day writing ticket after ticket.”

He also said he can’t get the sight of all that blood, plus the sound of the cyclist’s labored breathing, out of his head. “Nobody deserves that, even if it was his fault.”

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