Motorist Tailgates, Menaces and Hits Cyclist on McAllister

Details are still sketchy, but looks as if SFPD refuses to investigate a dangerous driver

A still from a video of a motorist just before they ran into the cyclist on the left
A still from a video of a motorist just before they ran into the cyclist on the left

Last week, a cyclist riding down McAllister was tailgated, menaced, and ultimately struck by the driver of the Lexus seen in the lead photo. This is according to a post by George Francis on Facebook’s San Francisco Bike Ride Crew.

Francis was riding a few feet behind the incident and captured it on camera. You can watch the 20-second video here.

Watching the video, SBSF feels no obligation to call this an “alleged” crime–it’s just a question of which crimes/how many were committed by the driver. In fact, it looks a whole lot like the motorist intentionally bumped the cyclist (and thankfully at least had enough control of their road rage not to floor the gas pedal as they did it). Either way, the victim, whose name is not yet known to Streetsblog, is lucky to be in one piece.

“There is definitely the crime of hit and run,” wrote Andy Gillen, an attorney and specialist in traffic laws, after watching the video. “As to whether it’s an assault with a deadly weapon, a court would have to determine the driver did this on purpose or as a result of negligence.”

Streetsblog has reached out to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Supervisor Vallie Brown, who represents the district, and Mayor London Breed’s office. SFBC’s Brian Wiedenmeier and Supervisor Brown replied that they have assigned staff to look into the incident. Streetsblog has also reached out to Francis and will update accordingly.

From the Facebook post on the San Francisco Bike Ride Crew page
From the Facebook post on the San Francisco Bike Ride Crew page

As seen from the above exchange, Francis and the victim (who was apparently riding an electric pedal-assist bike) tried to file a police report, but were turned away. Streetsblog reached out to SFPD media affairs; they have no information on the incident. However, “Based on the 20 second video the car appears to be driving too close to the bicycle, which is tailgating. Depending on what the driver was trying to do, this can also be seen as an assault,” wrote Robert Rueca, a spokesperson for the police, in an email to Streetsblog.

Streetsblog pointed out that it’s also a hit and run.

“I did not clearly see contact. Without knowing what the witnesses and victim experienced we would just be speculating,” replied Rueca.

Streetsblog readers can watch the video again and “speculate” for themselves.

A still from the video of a motorist intentionally ramming a cyclist on McAllister... the number on the dealer plate is clearly visible
A still from the video of a motorist tailgating and crashing into a cyclist on McAllister… the number on the dealer plate is clearly visible

Streetsblog has written at length about the SFPD’s tendency to victim-blame cyclists and exonerate motorists, no matter where the evidence actually points. The real danger in this case is if the motorist is not pursued, it seems likely he or she will one day seriously harm or kill a vulnerable road user. As Streetsblog has pointed out before, a Mother-Theresa-of-a-motorist doesn’t wake up one day and go run down a cyclist–they almost always have a history of endangering people.

Either way, the police have an obligation to take a report and investigate, not blow off the complaint (which seems to be what they did, if Francis’s Facebook comment is accurate). “The fact that it is a dealer plate doesn’t mean that the owner can’t be identified. The owner can be identified in that if the police run the plate it will come back either as the dealership that owns it or the person at the dealership who owns it,” wrote Gillen. “If it’s the former, the police can then find out from the dealership who was driving it at that time and place.”

For now, if anyone knows Francis or the victim please stress the importance of saving evidence, including damage to the bike, clothing, accessories etc. Take pictures of any injuries. And please email Streetsblog or post below if you have any more information.

  • thielges

    Betcha every bicyclist who has commuted daily for a few years has experienced this sort of harassment (minus the actual physical contact) from impatient motorists at least once. Some will hang up their bikes after a close call. Behavior like this is borderline lone wolf terrorism. Those who aren’t killed are left scared. This type of motorist needs help from our justice system to correct their sociopathic ways.

  • PDiddy

    Such an open and shut case but SFPD are a bunch of car loving a-holes. That should be an automatic suspension of this person’s driver’s license at the minimum.

  • City Resident

    Other than the a-hole part, I fully agree.

  • PDiddy

    Why sugar coat blatant enablers of crime?

  • crazyvag

    One kinda wishes that bike had gotten caught in car’s wheel well and severely damaged suspension… With the rider hopping away unscathed, of course.

  • JamesM2

    When they won’t follow up when there is very video seems to evidence a pervasive bias and need for both disciplinary action and retraining. There is a lot going on in this short video.
    A) Car passed too close to first bike.
    B) Car tailgated second bike.
    C) Car appears to deliberately cause rear end collision.
    D) Street clearly marked with SHARROWS (Visible on street to end of video) which inform car drivers that cyclists may legally use the full lane, and cars must wait till they can pass safely.
    E) Car fails to stop after collision, to assess damage, render aid, or exchange insurance information.

    Let’s do that again with laws:

    A) Car passed too close to first bike. Traffic infraction.
    B) Car tailgated second bike. Traffic infraction, and maybe menacing and / or assault. (You don’t need impact for an assault, just have the means and put the person in fear of your intention.)

    C) Car appears to deliberately cause rear end collision. (Assault with deadly weapon).

    E) Car fails to stop after collision (Hit and run felony, on video).

  • mx
  • Jeffrey Baker

    Used, obsolete quasi-luxury car with dealer plates (or often without plates) and after-market window tint? Obviously I do not blame any of the bicyclists in this scenario but base on my experience, if I ever see a car like that I stay well away from it. There’s just something about the kind of people who would drive such a thing that correlates with driver violence.

  • John French

    Yup, I don’t even ride every day but in the last 4 years I’ve been explicitly harassed twice in SF (meaning, driver rolled down the window and followed me hurling verbal abuse – thankfully neither case escalated to physical attacks.)

    That’s not counting the many times I’ve been close-passed or cut off or otherwise endangered by drivers who are either not paying attention or just don’t care.

  • SDGreg

    Intent to harm someone with a motor vehicle should result in permanent loss of a driver’s license. There should be zero tolerance for that type of behavior.

  • The phrasing needs to change. The cyclist should go to the police and report an assault with a deadly weapon. Explain you were traveling along whatever road, when a motorist assaulted you. Explain any injuries, any harm, how you felt, take as long as possible to mention the weapon was a car.

    This shouldn’t even be covered under a highway rule, this is a plain old criminal assault.

    INSANITY that the police won’t investigate.

  • Seymour Butz

    and automatic suspension without pay for the officer who wouldn’t file the report for enabling violence towards bikers

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