Cyclist Killed at Intersection of Turk and Taylor

A life lost at a dangerous, badly designed intersection of two known high-injury corridors

The aftermath of Tuesday evening's crash at Turk and Taylor.  Photo: alexindeed via Twitter
The aftermath of Tuesday evening's crash at Turk and Taylor. Photo: alexindeed via Twitter

A cyclist was killed Tuesday evening at the intersection of Taylor and Turk, near the start of the newly installed bike lane on Turk.

Streetsblog spoke with a nearby restaurant employee who saw security video of the crash. Apparently, the cyclist was heading north on Taylor when he was struck by a westbound driver on Turk who ran the red light. The driver then fled the scene. The employee, who asked not to be identified, said the video was turned over to police.

SF Weekly is reporting that the crash occurred at 5:44 p.m. and that the victim was 65-year-old San Francisco resident Gregory Blackman. The motorist was apprehended shortly after the crash and charged with hit-and-run, driving under the influence, and vehicular manslaughter.

“The SF Bicycle Coalition stands with our members and the Tenderloin community to mourn the victim of another collision at the intersection of Taylor and Turk Streets, two known Vision Zero high injury corridors,” wrote Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

It’s unclear if proper safety infrastructure would have prevented this crash, but it could have at least given Blackman a chance. AlexIndeed, who posted about it on Twitter and took the photo in the lead image, commutes through the corridor and observes that “…the construction barrier jutting into the street on the SE corner of turk and taylor is a big blind spot. Combine that with no bike lane on turk leading up to this intersection (there’s one after), the large amount of foot traffic, and the near daily occurrence of motorists running this light, this was inevitable.”

“The latest public data shows that every single street in the Tenderloin is part of our city’s high-injury network. One-way streets like those found throughout the Tenderloin encourage speeding and put the lives of people walking and biking in danger every day,” wrote Wiedenmeier.

The location of Tuesday's fatal crash. The victim was in approximately the same location as the cyclist in this picture, according to witness who saw video of the crash, the motorist ran the red light. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick
The location of Tuesday’s fatal crash. The victim was in approximately the same location as the cyclist in this picture (upper right corner of the frame), according to a witness who saw video of the crash. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

Adding to the potential danger at this intersection, the Turk bike lane, when it starts west of Taylor, is on the left, so cyclists have to cross two lanes of automobile traffic to get from the right side of the road. There’s also the issue of the long-delayed safety upgrades to Taylor Street. “It was almost exactly a year ago that I checked out the MTA’s great demonstration bike lane for the Safer Taylor Street project,” wrote bike advocate, former S.F. City Hall staffer, and occasional Streetsblog contributor Jeremey Pollack in a post on social media about the crash, “…the fact that it’s planned for construction in 2021 is unacceptable.” SFMTA has also apparently dropped protected bike lanes from the Taylor project. Nor does the plan include protected intersections, which never seem to make the cut.

Streetsblog is still gathering information about this tragedy and will update this post accordingly.

  • Bobbie Garnet Bees

    How long before the cyclist is blamed for his own death because of the usual red herrings?

  • anon408

    The PD and the DA’s office need to throw the book at the a@@hole behind the wheel.

  • jonobate

    For me, this crash is another illustration of why the most important thing we could do for street safety is to two-way all the one-way streets in Soma and the Tenderloin. This would be easy to do and wouldn’t reduce auto capacity, but would reduce auto speeds, as drivers tend to drive more carefully when there is oncoming traffic just the other side of a painted yellow line. One-way streets with 4-5 lanes going the same direction encourage drivers to treat the road like a freeway, and I would much prefer to cycle on a two-way street with 1-2 lanes in each direction, even if it doesn’t have bike lanes.

    In the case of this crash, the one-way nature of the streets directly contributed to the crash because the westbound driver appears to have been rushing through the red light at the far left of Turk, which meant that as soon as the cyclist moved out into the intersection he was in the path of the car. If the driver had been on the right half of the Turk, as would be the case if it was two-way, the cyclist and driver would have had more time to see each other and stop before their paths intersected.

    None of this is to excuse the driver (who in their right mind drives drunk at 5:44pm?) but we should design streets that do not result in fatalities in the event that one person behaves like an idiot.

  • Parque_Hundido

    Nobody is going to blame the cyclist when the driver was drunk, as appears to be the case here.

    The sad part is that there isn’t much anyone can do to protect themselves from a drunk driver. I recall a similar incident on Masonic a few years ago and, despite the expensive re-do of Masonic, that could still happen there or most any place else in the city.

  • 94103er

    Are you an acolyte of Rob Anderson’s? What a bunch of bunk. Nils Linke—who I’m pretty sure was hit from behind on Masonic, not T-boned like this poor cyclist—would almost assuredly be alive today if he’d been on the cycle track that has just been built. Truly protected bike lanes (which are always better and would’ve been possible without that stupid median on Masonic), of course, are better. They should be required infrastructure on one-way streets in SF. Two-waying all streets would be cheaper if you put it that way.

  • Parque_Hundido

    A drunk driver could easily weave into the new bike lanes on Masonic. There is only a slightly raised “bump” in the road. So my comment stands that there is never really any protection against drunk drivers.

    The idea of that central median is to provide refuge for pedestrians, and a safe distance between opposite flows of traffic. The trees will look nice, in time.

  • Parque_Hundido

    He’s being arraigned on a murder charge and his bail is set at $750,000. Good enough for you?

    Murder requires proof of an “intent to kill” so that is a pretty aggressive charge to prosecute. Should be interesting to see if it sticks over, say, a manslaughter charge which is more normal for cases of negligent but accidental death.

  • SF Guest

    I’ve never heard of a murder charge indictment in a DUI case unless the motorist knows the victim, and they would need to establish a motive. Involuntary manslaughter is the norm.

  • Parque_Hundido

    Yeah, I could see it in a road rage situation (Murder 2, presumably). Or someone who wants to kills his wife and make it look like an accident.

    But it’s quite normal for the DA to start with a serious charge (also bumps up the bail amount) and then they can plea down from there when the haggling starts.

    Man 1 or 2, I figure.

  • SF Guest

    For road rage it’s possible since provocation can be established.

  • Ziggy Tomcich

    There’s plenty we can do to protect ourselves from drunk drivers. First and foremost we should be designing our intersections with better visibility so everyone has more time to see and react to each other. Maybe if the cyclist could actually see the incoming BMW flying towards the intersection from more than 50′ away, he might have been able to avoid it. Maybe if the traffic light was directly over the driving lane rather than off to the side on the sidewalk, the drunk driver might have been able to notice the yellow light much sooner. To claim there’s nothing that can be done to prevent this sort of tragedy is dead wrong.

  • p_chazz

    Vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence is a wobbler. It may be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony.

  • Parque_Hundido

    Fair points, there can be improvements at the margin. But if a drunk moron is driving 2 tons of metal at 40 mph and has no control, then somebody is going to get hurt. He could just as easily have mounted the sidewalk or hit another vehicle head-on.

  • jonobate

    A drunk driver makes a collision more likely to occur. Better road design makes a collision less likely to occur. Both of those things can be true at the same time.

    We don’t have direct control over whether people drive drunk, although we can of course discourage it through breathalyzer checks, license suspension, cultural disapproval etc. We do have direct control over street design.

    This isn’t rocket science. That fact that it has to be explained is… troubling.

  • Parque_Hundido

    I get all that. Even so there is a downside to being punitive towards DUI. It makes it much more likely that a drink driver will leave the scene, which in turn means that they are less likely to call for an ambulance, take responsibility for the accident, and so on.

    But sure, all pedestrians and cyclists could be safer behind concrete barriers. But who would want to live in a place like that?

  • jonobate

    So you’re saying that instead of taking a drunk driver’s license away so that he can’t do it again, we should let him keep his license so that when he does do it again he can call for an ambulance? Pretty sure the preferable option is the one where the ambulance isn’t needed at all.

    In a previous comment, I outlined the improvement I think is needed at the intersection where this crash occurred, and that’s two-waying the streets. No concrete barriers required.

  • Parque_Hundido

    All I am saying is that if we make the DUI laws too punitive then drunk drivers are more likely to leave the scene.

    A drunk driver can hit you no matter where you are, absent concrete barriers

  • jonobate

    Okay, now I know you’re just trolling.

    Here’s an idea – let’s make the murder laws less punitive so that murderers won’t leave the scene!

  • Parque_Hundido

    There is a trade-off – we don’t want people driving drunk but we also want drivers to remain at the scene of an accident. Seems like many hit-and-run drivers are drunk and leave the scene to avoid dealing with a DUI charge. Show up the next day and you’re sober.

  • jonobate

    Ah, now it makes sense – you’re lenient on drunk drivers because you’ve been one yourself.

    Deterring people from driving drunk is far more important than ensuring drunk drivers remain at the scene of an crash, because deterring the act of driving drunk prevents the crash from happening in the first place, which is the preferable outcome. You’re clearly too biased to see that because of your personal experience.

    The other guy was right to want to call the cops. Even if there was no injuries, liability has to be established for insurance purposes, and the best way to do that is with a police report.

    You did two bad things – driving drunk and leaving the scene of an accident – and you shouldn’t be trying to justify either of them. Don’t expect any sympathy for that on this blog.

  • Parque_Hundido

    Dude, it was decades ago. Most of us did dumb things like that at college and whatnot.

    There is no need for cops unless there is an injury. Just exchange insurance details and move on. The other guy was a dick and he paid for it, as there never was a claim.

    All I am saying is that if you make the DUI penalties too stiff then don’t act surprised if there are more hit-and-run cases. It’s obvious. Pointing that out doesn’t mean I support drunk driving.

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