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The latest incident where a pedestrian was killed by a speeding cyclist has provoked a lot of comment about the behavior of city cyclists. Bad behavior by cyclists on city streets is nothing new. I've been writing about it for years on this blog. Nor is this behavior confined to San Francisco. It happens everywhere, on the roads of Marin County, and on the trails of Marin; and in Berkeley here and here. (And on the streets of New York City, as in the above video.)
More than five years ago, Rachel Gordon wrote in the Chronicle about the problem of cyclists running people down on city sidewalks.
Cyclists themselves admit there's a lot of bad behavior by their comrades on city streets. From the San Francisco State of Cycling Report: "95 percent of frequent cyclists and 85 percent of infrequent cyclists have witnessed unsafe cycling behavior" (page 18).
Who are city cyclists? Mostly young white guys. The above report gives some specifics:
While people of all ages, races, and genders bicycle in San Francisco, frequent bicyclists are more likely to be male, Caucasian and between the ages of 26 and 35...Women make up 49% of San Franciscans, but only 23% of frequent cyclists. Asians make up 32% of San Franciscans, but only 12% of frequent cyclists. African Americans make up 7% of San Franciscans but only 2% of frequent cyclists and Hispanics make up 14% of San Franciscans but only 10% of frequent cyclists (page 16, 25).
Only 24% of the city cyclists are women (page 10), a percentage verified, with slight variations, by other city reports.
Mountain bikers are honest about why they engage in their hobby. It's all about speed and thrills for them. Based on the cyclists I see in my neighborhood speeding down Haight Street, Page Street, Hayes Street, and McAllister Street, a lot of urban cyclists also enjoy a childlike thrill when they speed on city streets.
This behavior is enabled when the Chronicle in effect endorses Critical Mass on its front page as it did in 2007.
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