Thursday, October 15, 2015

More fatalities in the bogus traffic war

Paul Skilbeck, who writes about cycling for, on the death of that cyclist on Market Street:

Mark Heryer, a San Francisco native, was an experienced and competent cyclist. Many years’ mountain biking in the Marin and Monterey hills had endowed him with the skills and reflexes to navigate tight, rocky singletrack trails. He was a regular and frequent bicycle commuter with all the street smarts needed to navigate around San Francisco. Yet on Sunday October 11, all of that was not enough. Heryer, 47, who lived in Berkeley, was killed on Market Street, San Francisco’s preeminent thoroughfare and its main street for bicycle commuters. He hit a tram track wrong and fell under the wheels of a bus.

While it looks for someone to replace Aaron Bialick, SF Streetsblog maintains the anti-car, pro-bike blog's silly, biased standard to describe the accident: "Muni Bus Driver Kills 48-Year-Old Bicyclist on Market Street." The next day their description provided more information, but the Muni driver was still a killer: "Cyclist Mark Heryer Killed by Bus Driver After Fall Caused by Streetcar Tracks."

Bike messenger/author Robert Hurst wrote about the special danger rail tracks pose for cyclists:

Ask around among any group of experienced cyclists, and you will find that more than a few have been felled by a railroad track. The most dangerous tracks are of two basic types: wet tracks and diagonal tracks. Railroad tracks that are both wet and diagonal to the cyclist's direction of travel are probably the most unforgiving of all possible forms of surface obstacles. Riders who wreck on such tracks report being slapped to the ground in a split second...Railroad tracks cause quite an ugly brand of fall. The rider doesn't have time to get the arms out or prepare in any way (Robert Hurst, The Art of Cycling, page 53).

Short of removing all streetcars from Market Street, there's no "engineering" solution to the kind of accident that killed Heryer, but the Bicycle Coalition jumps in to suggest that there is.

Whenever a cyclist or a pedestrian dies in an accident, he/she is counted as a victim by the Bicycle Coalition and Streetsblog in what they see as an ongoing war on our streets even if he/she is to blame. Commander Ali's analysis of fatal traffic accidents in San Francisco in 2014 found that all three cyclists were responsible for their own fatal accidents, and the same was true for half the pedestrian fatalities. 

Even when people are killed by a train, they might be victims: "Caltrain Kills Woman Walking on Tracks in Santa Clara," and "Union Pacific Freight Train Kills Bicyclist in Richmond." Probably the woman was committing suicide by train in the first instance, but both descriptions imply agency by the train engineers, as if, in the second instance, the train jumped the tracks to run down the cyclist. Of course what really happened: the cyclist tried to beat the train to a crossing and lost both the race and his life in the process.

Earlier this month, Skilbeck wrote about the Idaho Stop, pronouncing Mayor Lee an enemy of cyclists in San Francisco. Oddly, he cites the Netherlands as an example for the city to follow, even though 184 cyclists died there in traffic accidents in 2013.

Later: 123 cyclists died in accidents in California in 2012.

Vision Zero doctrine holds that there's no such thing as an accident, but the reality is that there are and always will be accidents on city streets---or at least as long as human beings are using those streets.

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At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Dr. Cane Toad said...

Rob - the man who died the other day is a better human than you will ever dream of being. You are a skrippy little spit child, forever jealous of the freedom of those who bike.

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I may not be free, but I'm alive, a necessary pre-condition for freedom.

At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you read the comments where some cyclists are now demanding for the tracks to either be removed or somehow re-designed! It seems the safety issues involved with cycling are always the fault of someone else or something else.

At 3:12 AM, Anonymous sfthen said...

So SF is to become more like those European bicycle utopias where e.g. in the Netherlands statistics show that "almost half the cycling deaths involve a collision with a car."

Wait a minute, reworded that could've read, "over half the cycling deaths did not involve collision with a car."

At 4:51 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Yes, the "solo fall" issue, which is what most cycling accidents are, not being hit by cars. Note too that the Netherlands has more cycling fatalities per year than California!

At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Gregski said...

I'm a daily west-east bike commuter and the popularity of Market Street among cyclists mystifies me. Traffic furniture, duplex intersections, streetcar tracks, buses, confused motorists.

Not that I'm complaining. More cylists slipping and sliding on Market Street rail tracks means fewer cyclists on Howard and Folsom Streets. And more proof that despite their rhetoric, large numbers of SF cyclists will happily trade danger for ease. After all, if they were to ride rail-free Folsom Street it would increase their trip distance by a sweaty, exhausting six blocks.


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