Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"A 24-year-old woman died for no good reason"

Photo by Will Tran

Every time a cyclist dies on city streets, the Bicycle Coalition and Streetsblog are outraged. The latest fatality provoked extra indignation at what was clearly a botched SFPD investigation into the accident that involved a truck hitting a cyclist while making a right turn.

C.W. Nevius writes about that accident:

There are some real issues with bike safety that need to be discussed. The protocol for a right turn, particularly by big trucks, is one of the most misunderstood issues on downtown streets...What drivers often don't know is that they should actually pull over into the right-hand bike lane when turning, so they are as close to the curb as possible. Skittish drivers may think they are supposed to stay out of the lane at all times. And bike riders may be under the impression that no drivers will enter their bike lanes and end up trying to pass a car or truck on the right side where they are hard to see.

Yes, of course understanding this sort of thing is important for both motorists and cyclists. But the reality is that when something goes wrong---ignorance of the law, reckless or drunk driving, poor visibility, etc.---it's the cyclist who gets hurt or killed, not the motorist.

What the Bicycle Coalition, Streetsblog, and City Hall are in denial about: riding a bike has intrinsic dangers, which is why encouraging people to ride bikes is irresponsible without informing potential cyclists about the real dangers involved. Instead, the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall act as if cycling is nothing but a fun, green transportation "mode," a win-win deal for everyone since, though it's only 3.4% of all trips in the city, cycling still helps ease traffic congestion.  

Most cycling accidents are in fact "solo falls" that don't involve another vehicle, but fatal accidents almost always involve a motor vehicle.

Nevius sums up:

We can debate bike lanes and intersections for days, but don't forget what's important: A 24-year-old woman died on a sunny San Francisco street for no good reason.

But she wouldn't have died if she hadn't been riding a bike. Nevius himself stopped riding his bike downtown last year because the danger became to obvious to ignore:

...I rode a bike, right in downtown San Francisco roughly three times a week for the last three years. But, I have to admit, about two months ago I quit. There were just too many close calls. Sooner or later I was going DOWN.

Nevius also wrote about the bike safety issue back in May.

What's galling about the Bicycle Coalition and City Hall is that they not only irresponsibly encourage people to use an inherently risky way to get around, they also encourage children to ride bikes in the city!

Morgan Fitzgibbons has another hysterical rant on the Wigg Party's website blaming Mayor Lee for Le Moullac's death: "The truth is Ed Lee does not care about bicycle or pedestrian safety." It's not at all clear that the city can do anything to prevent this kind of accident, which was caused by either the cyclist or the truck driver. But the city's bike people see themselves as victims in the country's traffic wars. (Earlier rants by Fitzgibbons here and here.)

A reality check for a NY Times reporter after she has her first serious cycling accident.

Women won't/don't ride bikes as much as men do. Why is that?

Riding a bike can be bad for women's sex life just like it can be for men.

Other cyclists killed on city streets this year here and here.

Morgan Fitzgibbons blames Mayor Lee

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50 years ago today

And let's not forget Bayard Rustin:

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