Tragedies remind us to pay attention and share the roads

Bicyclist Chris Bucchere struck and killed a pedestrian last year while speeding through this crowded intersection.

A pair of tragic news items involving bicyclists in San Francisco — one cyclist a victim, another a perpetrator — illustrates the need for all of us to slow down, pay attention, and safely and respectfully share the roadways of this crowded city.

The victim of yesterday’s fatal collision between a truck and bicyclist at Folsom and 6th Streets — in which the motorist turned right across the path of cyclist in a bike lane, but was inexplicably yet not surprisingly not cited by police — was today revealed to be 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac.

Meanwhile, 37-year-old cyclist Chris Bucchere was today sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and three years probation after pleading guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter after last year trying to beat a red light at Castro and Market streets and fatally striking elderly pedestrian Sutchi Hui.

“Motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists must share the road in a responsible way because there are dire consequences when traffic laws are disregarded,” District Attorney George Gascon said today after Bucchere’s sentencing.

Both of these incidents were sad for all concerned, and they should remind us to be responsible and attentive travelers, a lesson that we could all use. Everyday on my bike commute home, I see motorists running red lights or darting heedlessly around obstacles, risking people’s lives to save seconds of their days; cyclists impatiently edging their way past pedestrians; and pedestrians stepping out into traffic without looking around them, often because they’re absorbed by their smartphones.

We’re all guilty of bad behavior on the roadways at times, myself included, so I’m not going to presume to stereotype any particular group of road users (I’ll leave that to the trolls). But when we hear about terrible tragedies like these, it’s good to take a moment to reflect on our own behavior and do what we can to civilly share our civic spaces, particularly when wielding the deadly weapons of a fast-moving bicycle or an automobile moving at any speed.  


"Who owns the roads? Urban cycling advocates raise safety concerns
Urban cycling advocates in Montreal raise concerns"

"Benjamin Shingler, The Canadian Press
August 12, 2013

MONTREAL -- A high-profile ticketing blitz, a string of deadly accidents, and a dispute over the rules of the road this summer suggests Montreal cycling is experiencing some growing pains.

Montreal's 600 kilometres of bike paths and the arrival of the Bixi rent-a-bike system have made the city among the top cycling destinations in North America, according to several rankings.

In recent months, though, biking has been the subject of controversy.

And the issues raised in Montreal are popping up in other in other Canadian cities trying to expand their cycling network.

In June, Montreal police handed out a slew of fines to bikers who blew through red lights and stop signs on downtown streets. The blitz angered cycling advocates.

One cyclist, issued a ticket for running a red light, was slapped with an additional $651 fine for impeding a police operation when he tried to warn other cyclists to stop. He's planning to appeal the fine."

So. Apparently this crackdown is a recent development -- contrary to your suggestion.

And how merciful they are towards bicyclists in Montreal!

It *is* (just barely) illegal to run down a bicyclist with a truck -- though not, apparently, in the specific way that happened to the cyclist just killed in the city.

Here's 349 of their Highway Safety Code: "The driver of a road vehicle or any person riding a bicycle who is turning at an intersection must yield the right of way to pedestrians and cyclists crossing the roadway he is about to enter.

1986, c. 91, s. 349."

So? Not in the intersection yet? Under my wheels bikey!

In view of such, I don't think San Franciscans need to judge their bike policy on what is being done in Montreal unless they contemplate punitive action against the peddalers.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

That's the point.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

Let me see if I got this straight. You tell us bicyclists in Montreal are pissed because the cops are citing them for running red lights and stop signs and you expect sympathy from the majority of the population? HAHAHAHAHAHHA!!!

You then tell us that we shouldn't judge bike policy on what is done in Montreal. But several posts back, you tell us we that should adopt Idaho's policy for bicyclists and stop signs. It does all go back to what an earlier commenter said about you: you only want laws that YOU personally like.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 19, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

1. Cars, trucks, busses, cyclists, and pedestrians will NEVER be able to "share the road" safely. EVER! The only solution is separate routes for different types of traffic. And a MASSIVE reduction in the total number of motor vehicles on the road.

2. The current program favors only young commuters. What about kids and seniors? Cycling should be a viable alternative method of transportation for EVERYONE.

3. Ladies, we can still tell you're cute if you're wearing a helmet. Gentlemen; well, I don't really care, but you should wear one too.

Posted by TrollKiller on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 6:22 am

And yes, bike infrastructure favors the young, the fit, the healthy and (let's be honest) white professionals.

If you're a child, a senior or disabled, tough shit, the SF Bike coalition says you don't count.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 7:22 am

You are a lying trolling sack of shit. The SFBC policy is to make the streets safe for 8 to 80.

There is more diversity amongst the bike riding public than the fat-ass SUV driving public, which you are a member of. Let's be frank here, the only people driving around in $60,000 Lexus SUVs are white professionals.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 11:41 am

their constituency and less for everyone else

Posted by anon on Aug. 25, 2013 @ 11:53 am

Such is impossible to acheive from that perspective because it serves most potently to alienate the vast majority of non-bikers -- and it doesn't seem likely to be terribly effective since only a single motor vehicle is required to kill a bicyclist.

What we need is a universal awareness among vehicle drivers for the need to act with safety at the forefront of their minds.

Even a minor increase in the numbers of bicyclists can serve to make their presence massively more recognized among other road users. And a minor increase in training and certification requirements for motor vehicle drivers can achieve massive increases in safety for everyone.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:08 am

cyclists, along with registration of bikes?

That would ensure cyclists pay something towards our road infrastructure AND that there is some comeback when a Bucchere-type incident occurs.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 10:24 am

which is meant for motorized vehicles, then such a development would tend to counteract the suppressionary effects of licensing, etc. on bike travel; and *might* be worth discussing. Maybe.

In the mix somehow would have to be included a change allowing sidewalk use for non-licensed bicycle travel slower than 5mph and which respects the preeminent right of pedestrians.

Then again, where does big government end? Will pedestrians be forced to register and pay tax to move about?

And what is the cost to public roadway infrastructure caused by bicyclists with their tiny curb weight which registration is meant to reimburse? The traffic signals are there for the motor vehicles, after all.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 11:49 am

have equal accountability. Either they pay nothing, have no bureaucracy and remian second class road users. Or they get full equality but have to pay and accept the same rules.

They need to make their mind up because they cannot continue to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

based on the 100% prosecution rate on only two fatalities which have ever come from bike accidents. Compare and contrast with the above story and thousands of others just like it.

And SFPD already has as much right to impinge the travel of-- and cite for violation of public code-- of any pedestrian or bicyclist.

A strong argument for the necessity of much stricter rules on registration and licensing for auto and truck operation is that the larger vehicles carry a far far greater chance of causing serious injury to others. (This doesn't even begin to take into account the not-insignificant difference in relative effects on global warming and geo-politics.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 21, 2013 @ 12:55 pm
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