Another Crash on Valencia as City Drags Feet on Safety

The victim could have easily been killed... would that have been enough to spur SFMTA into finishing Valencia's bike lane?

A shot of the Jeep, license #AB31H94, driven by the motorist who hit Glauser at 15th and Valencia and then fled the scene. Photo: Glauser
A shot of the Jeep, license #AB31H94, driven by the motorist who hit Glauser at 15th and Valencia and then fled the scene. Photo: Glauser

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Michelle Glauser was biking south on Valencia with her husband on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:50 in the evening. Her husband was slightly ahead of her, and crossed 15th as the light changed. Glauser crossed the “mixing zone” as she left the end of the protected bike lane and braked to stop at the light, which was turning red, when she saw a dark colored Jeep SUV come from her left and slam into her. “He was heading north on Valencia and did an illegal U-turn across the double yellow line,” Glauser told Streetsblog via phone. “I went over on my right side, landed on my hip.”

Glauser, who is at home nursing several bad bruises, was not seriously hurt. But that was just a matter of luck. As she told Streetsblog, had there been another car or a truck to her right–a normal situation with a mixing zone intersection treatment like the one she was in–she could have been severely injured or killed.

“I jumped up and yelled at him [the driver]… he said ‘let me pull over,’ Glauser explained. “Then he didn’t pull over, he just left!”

Her husband checked quickly to make sure she was okay, and then rode after the motorist, who escaped down 15th. At Guerrero the motorist clipped the Honda seen in the lead image, and continued on his way–but not before Glauser’s husband snapped a photo of the SUV’s license plate.

From Glauser’s post from Tuesday, Oct. 20 about the incident:

Tonight at 5:53 PM, I was biking south at 15th & Valencia (right in front of Valencia Garden Apartments) when a Jeep did an illegal U turn over the double yellow lines and hit me in the bike lane from my left. I was able to get up and yell at the guy, but I’m so mad—he hurt me, bent up my bike, and DROVE AWAY on 15th and hit the Honda shown at Guerrero. Watch out for this Jeep with temporary paper license plate AB31H94.

Michellecrashlocation

 

Glauser’s bike was too damaged to ride, so she and her husband headed to the Mission police station on foot and reported the hit and run. “They wrote down all the details, took some pictures of my bike and bruises, and told me I probably won’t hear back about if they catch the guy or not,” she wrote on a social media post about the incident.

She followed up with the police a few days later and got this reply:

Good afternoon,
Unfortunately, I am unaware of the investigator that’s been assigned to your case. I’m the principal officer that took the report however the report is then sent to the TCIU (traffic collision investigation unit).  After the report is sent to TCIU it is out of my hands and I don’t hear anything more on the case.
Thank you,
Officer Yesenia Roman #2408
Mission Station

In addition, an SFPD spokesperson sent this to Streetsblog about the incident: “This is an active and open investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call the SFPD Tip Line at 1-415-575-4444 or Text a Tip to TIP411 and begin the text message with SFPD.”

Glauser provided this Google maps shot of another cyclist in the exact location where she was hit.
Glauser provided this Google maps shot of another cyclist in the exact location where she was hit.

Glauser said she was left with little confidence that the police will follow through. “It’s unbelievable that they only look at the ones after someone dies,” she added.

Of course, it’s not just about dangerous motorists and a seeming lack of enthusiasm by the police. She also blames poor and incomplete infrastructure on Valencia. Her crash took place at the southern end of a section of the Valencia protected bike lane which runs from Market to 15th and then just ends. Even that section lacks protected intersections, which, if properly constructed with concrete curbs and/or bollards, would have made her crash nearly impossible. “We should totally have protected intersections… all of the bike lanes need to be better,” she said. Glauser has also lived in Leipzig, Germany, where bike lanes are generally adjacent to the sidewalk, at sidewalk level, rather than positioned in the street where cyclists are exposed to collisions with fast-moving cars. She said there are far more people on bikes in Leipzig and the experience is much more relaxing and safe.

The worst problem in Germany is pedestrians occasionally wander into the bike lane, she explained, and that “…sometimes you have to ring your bell.”

Meanwhile, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, whose district encompasses most of Valencia, sent this unintentionally ironic tweet a few hours before Glauser’s crash:

MandelmanValencia

If readers follow the twitter thread, they’ll see multiple advocates asking the obvious questions: given all the crashes that have taken place on Valencia over the years, how can it take two more years to install four more blocks of bike lane on a project that’s been in the planning phase for years? And as Feeney and others asked, what happened to the section from 19th to Cesar Chavez, which should have been completed this summer, as stated in the reply below:

Designs for the 19th to Cesar Chavez section, by the way, include protected intersections, although that’s a moot point since the lanes were never built. Streetsblog has emailed Mandelman and Supervisor Hillary Ronen and SFMTA these same questions, and will update this post.

Glauser, meanwhile, is just glad to be in one piece, although she’s still nursing painful bruises. Her bike is in the shop getting repaired. And she’s been in touch with a lawyer, who is trying to determine if the motorist has insurance and is worth suing.

Glauser's knee. Just one of many injuries.
Glauser’s knee. Just one of many injuries.

Glauser is frustrated that she’s unable to get around now, with bruises that make it too painful to ride a bike. “I’m always really careful,” said Glauser, whose been cycling for years, mostly without incident. But she added that wearing reflective clothing, riding with lights, and following the rules isn’t enough in a city with such poor infrastructure, little will to fix it in a reasonable time frame, and a society that tolerates traffic violence from motorists. “When someone flips an illegal U-turn over a double yellow line what can I do?”

?? with her bike, now in the shop. Photo: ???
Glauser with her bike, now in the shop with a bent back wheel.

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