Cyclist Killed on Howard

Deadly collision with a box truck occurred on block before protected bike lane begins

The woman's GoBike, on Howard near 6th. Photos Streetsblog/Rudick
The woman's GoBike, on Howard near 6th. Photos Streetsblog/Rudick

Update: a People Protected Bike Lane Protest has been scheduled for tonight/Friday, March 8, 5-6 p.m., on Howard between 5th and 4th Street

A woman riding a Ford GoBike west on Howard Street was killed in a collision with a box truck at around 8:15 this morning, just prior to the intersection with 6th Street.

The collision was brought to the attention of Streetsblog and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition by Morgan Bellinger via email. “I passed through the spot where the accident happened before the police got there this morning. I have what I can only assume to be extremely graphic GoPro footage of the aftermath. I certainly haven’t looked. Please let me know if it could possibly be helpful. Otherwise I will definitely be deleting it.”

The victim was run over by this truck
The scene shortly after this morning’s collision

Police at the scene were still conducting their investigation at 10 this morning, but SFPD spokesman Officer Robert Rueca confirmed that a woman was killed and that the police have multiple witnesses and they are currently talking with the truck driver. It also seems likely there is video evidence, given the proximity of a security camera over the area, although Rueca could not confirm that.

Binod Singh was smoking a cigarette across the street when he heard the crash. He did not witness the initial impact, but said he thinks the white car in the lead image opened its door and the cyclist was either struck or attempted to maneuver around it and got caught under the wheels of the truck. It’s also possible the truck was starting to make a right turn and swept over the cyclist, although there’s no way to know until the police share the truck driver’s statement and complete their investigation or video of the crash is released.

Supervisor Matt Haney, whose district includes Howard Street, was at the scene and spoke with Streetsblog and other journalists. He emphasized that the recently installed protected bike lane on Howard starts on the other side of 6th, and if this infrastructure had simply been extended down the length of the street, it seems unlikely this crash would have happened.

Streetsblog will embed video of the full interview below.

“It baffles me why bike lanes deemed useful on one street or block are suddenly not necessary at the end of a block, so they just disappear right under your wheels,” wrote Devon Warner, who organizes the annual Ride of Silence commemoration for cyclists killed on the streets of San Francisco. “This is what killed Dianna Sullivan. Have we learned nothing??? …We must have protected intersections and bike lanes.”

This latest tragedy comes on the heels of a spate of deaths on San Francisco streets. Walk S.F. puts this year’s count at five pedestrians killed, one bicyclist, and two vehicle passengers. “We have a crisis on our streets,” wrote Walk S.F.’s Jodie Medeiros, in an email to Streetsblog. “We have an obligation to protect people who are doing the right thing by walking, biking and taking transit.”

Earlier this week Mayor Breed called on the police to focus enforcement efforts on speeding, failing to yield in crosswalks, and other dangerous motorist behaviors. She also asked SFMTA to work faster to get quick-fix safety measures installed throughout the city.

Meanwhile, Streetsblog has an inquiry out to SFMTA to find out the official reason why none of SoMa’s newly installed protected bike lanes continue between 6th and the Embarcadero, and will update this post accordingly.

“The SFMTA keeps prioritizing street parking over people’s lives. That is the case here on Howard as well. I’m so mad,” said Matt Brezina, the advocate who organizes People Protected Bike Lane protests to get better cycling infrastructure. “We are going to keep losing members of our community until the SFMTA and our mayor take bold action. Less community meetings, less delay, more protected lanes now.”

Video of Haney talking about the crash, and the city’s lackluster safety efforts on infrastructure, below:

  • crazyvag

    It baffles me who would decide that protected bike lanes on Folsom and Howard must be done in multiple phases and connect go from Division to Embarcadero in a single effort.

  • ZA_SF

    I’ve been riding Howard Street on my bike commute for over a decade now, and honestly, I still have mixed opinions about these Class IV cycle tracks being put in.

    Overlooking the frequency of daily vehicle intrusions (parked and moving) in these cycle tracks on Howard Street, what they offer with increased spacing along the length of blocks does little to effectively manage the necessary mixing at the turning points of intersections.

    If we’re going to revisit the Howard Street bike designs, how about adding a green ‘bike box’ at the informal gathering point in front of cars on 10th Street for bike people intending to use the bike lane to turn left on 11th St? That might reduce the risk the riders feel compelled to use on the shortened mixing area between 10th and 11th, having been shunted out of mixing in between 9th and 10th.

    Then let’s get serious about the reality of what the Intercontinental Hotel and Moscone Center conferences do regularly to all traffic flow on Howard Street. If the Intercontinental feels it has the right to take entire lanes for bikes and cars for its conference coach-buses, they should also pay the city to set up proper traffic deviation signage at least a block in advance. And I should say, I’ve become “that San Franciscan” – no more damn Howard Street-blocking conferences! The city is too congested to do that anymore. This isn’t sleepy and tourist-hungry 2007 anymore.

  • Lorelei J.

    First off… totally agree about the Howard St. conferences. I’ve almost gotten killed using Mission as a go-around when Howard is randomly closed. Very frustrating.

    Secondly, the current long-term Howard (and Folsom) designs proposed by SFMTA involve fully separated, two-way bikeways, with no mixing zones (phased lights). The current short-term improvements being put in right now, however, are not great, the mixing area you mention is really not great, but I think the worst part is that they won’t implement improvements to the whole street, with predictable consequences.

  • Corvus Corax

    Ditto on Valencia. Putting parking-protected bikelanes on the least dangerous parts of Valencia is like putting a band-aid on a heart attack.

  • jd_x

    To the witness with the GoPro video: do not delete the video! Please hand it over to the authorities. Although the SFMTA deserves a large part of the blame for designing these “murder strips” when they damn well know better but keep prioritizing motorist convenience over bicyclist/pedestrian safety, it seems at least one motorist (the driver who doored the victim) and possibly another (the truck driver who may not have given 3 ft of clearance to the victim) acted illegally and deserve the severest of punishments (as pathetically weak as that will be given our car-centric justice system). And your video may be crucial in helping sort this out.

  • mx

    I believe Supervisor Haney’s office is looking into city policy around the closures of Howard St for conferences (I did the math a while back and I believe Howard was closed for a total of six weeks last year for various events plus setup and takedown, which isn’t something we’d tolerate anywhere else; it turns the whole area into a traffic sewer. I love closing streets and handing them over to people, but maybe not closing major thoroughfares and bike routes to hand them over to private corporate events).

    Even when Howard is open, the blocking of the bike lane past 5th is an epidemic during conferences. If that’s going to be necessary, convention organizers should pay for DPT to do traffic control and to setup cones to keep it safe. Otherwise, there are ample loading zones already that could be used and enforced.

    This video really shows it all:

  • @mx – The icing on this cake was closing streets for the Global Climate Awareness Summit except of course for Uber and Lyft. Their exemptions never seem to end.

  • George Francis

    “Please let me know if it could possibly be helpful. Otherwise I will definitely be deleting it.”

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard today. Yeah, I’m sure nobody wants the only evidence that will solve a manslaughter case. What universe did you come to this dimension from.

  • Stuart

    Yeah, I’m sure nobody wants the only evidence that will solve a manslaughter case. What universe did you come to this dimension from.

    Well, since they said:

    I have[…] footage of the aftermath.

    it seems likely that they came from a dimension where video from after everything had already happened is unlikely to be case-altering evidence.

    Also, the article says that there’s probably video of the actual collision, and that there were multiple witnesses, so even in the relatively unlikely event that it’s useful evidence, it’s certainly not “the only evidence”.

  • George Francis

    ah, i didnt catch that part

  • crazyvag

    Anytime Howard is closed, we can simply detour bikes along 3rd, Folsom and 4th by removing a lame of parking or traffic.

    Folsom certainly doesn’t need 5 lanes for cars on that block given its current traffic volume.

  • mx

    Yep. I think it used to be Oracle. Then Oracle and Salesforce. Then Oracle, Salesforce, Global Climate Awareness Summit, IBM, and who knows what else this year. And that’s with a brand new skybridge over Howard that Moscone just built.

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  • Love2Ride2

    I find it amazing that in all of the articles about this collision, there’s absolutely no mention of the driver violating CA VC 22517. Why? The driver broke the law and her actions caused the death of this cyclist.

    And apparently SFPD hasn’t mentioned the fact, nor cited the driver. Was the driver detained? Drug tested? Cell phone records checked? ANYTHING?

    How is it that we have laws on the books that are designed to inform drivers about safe practice behind the wheel, that are broken with impunity and no consequences result? Why have the law if it is never enforced – even when a person dies?

    How on earth can law enforcement sit back and do nothing?

    Drivers kill and face no legal consequence – after breaking the law?

    Total bullshit!

    This happened in Oakland over five years ago. The “poor” driver, so traumatized, left the scene shortly thereafter to attend a hair salon appointment! Unbefuckinlievable!

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  • Lorelei J.

    Yes, and things will get better (hopefully… eventually…) in the future when Folsom has its two-way bikeway and Howard isn’t the only option.

  • If a rider gets doored and is on the trucker’s right there is a 80-90% chance that the truck driver doesn’t see it happen and physically impossible for the truck to move sideways 3 feet on a second’s notice too.

    The right side of the truck has a big blind spot, especially with the type of right mirror, which is legal equipment I’m afraid, though the driver of a truck must constantly look at 8 different things while driving in city traffic so they can only devote 1/6th to 1/8th of total time to their right mirror too.

    I have never thought that riding bikes immediately to the right side of trucks in city traffic between trucks or buses and parked cars is very safe for a whole number of reasons though.

    If a truck tire with 100 psi blows out and you are 4 feet from it the 12-ply steel cord shrapnel will tear you to pieces and the concussion can cause hearing damage as well as throw you sideways off your bike. I have seen rubber shrapnel fly 300 feet sideways after a blowout. There is that much force.

    In the event of a vehicle accident involving the truck you could get crushed into the parked cars too. You might not even see the accident and in one second flat with no time to react you are dead.

    You can get doored and cars can pull out from parking spaces too. All vehicles have left-side blind spots too. Elderly drivers can’t turn their necks like younger drivers can and have a larger left blind spot as a result.

    There are just too many things that can go wrong in moving multi-lane urban traffic to think that bicyclists riding in narrow bike lanes alongside moving traffic with parked cars on their right are safe.

    If you open the photo in its own tab and zoom in it appears that there is between 4 and 5 feet of clearance between the side of the truck and the extended plane of the left side of the parked cars,. It should have been plenty of room, considering that the truck must drive in marked lanes.

    Travel lanes must be wide-enough for truck or bus width and their mirrors too. Most city buses are 9 feet wide plus another foot for their mirrors. , How much more clearance should there be? At-least another foot minimum, which is just 6 inches on either side.

    The photo has good focus up to my entire 17-inch screen.


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