The media has been buzzing about the cyclist who was arrested for striking a pedestrian because by his own admission, he
But one thing missing in all the uproar over Bucchere is a sound fundamental in the traffic profile of San Francisco: Many more cyclists and pedestrians are being killed or injured by motorists by several magnitudes.
In 2012, one other pedestrian was struck and killed by a bicyclist. But in 2011, 811 pedestrians were killed or injured by car drivers, 18 by cyclists.
And in 2009–the last study comparing counties in California, San Francisco was a leader in traffic injuries and fatalities, when 3,745 people were killed or injured by cars–that’s pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.
Of those, 522 cyclists were killed or injured by motorists, almost as many as pedestrians at 736. Another 236 motorcyclists were killed or injured by drivers, reported SF Gate.
Add to this, traffic fatalities in toto are the second leading cause of death in San Francisco, according to the SF Department of Health.
The analysis of 2009 traffic accident statistics by the state Office of Traffic Safety showed San Francisco to have more deaths and injuries caused by vehicular collisions than any other California city with a population of 250,000 or more when calculated by the number of miles driven.
When the calculation is done on a population basis, San Francisco is seventh of the 13 cities.
It is unclear how many of the thousands of deaths at the hands of an automobile driver result in a felony manslaughter charge for the driver. CI hopes to obtain that information from the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.
In the meantime, Chris Bucchere, the cyclist involved in this incident, has been enduring a trial by media, who have splayed his comments at one time posted on a local cycling site, all over the Internet.
According to reports by SFist, the cyclist chronicled his misadventure down a steep hill which resulted in the death of the man four days later.
What is not clear either in the reports by media, or especially in the evidence brought forward so far, is whether the pedestrians had jumped the light after motorists had passed, a common practice in big cities.
The San Francisco District Attorney’s office confirmed that the victim, Sutchi Hui, was legally in the crosswalk when he struck, that is, he had a green light.
The DA also confirmed that there were witnesses and video cameras that allegedly documented Bucchere going through a few red lights and stop signs before he struck the victim–even though the final light was yellow. But it was the “pattern established” by the first few infractions that have provided the evidence for the DA’s office to charge Bucchere with a felony, said their spokesperson Stephanie Ong Stillman.
And the intersection that Bucchere is alleged to have struck the man is so wide (see photos) it is a question mark as to why he would not want to stop, to avoid being hit himself, unless no traffic was present at the time.
Bucchere’s riding buddy, as well as a driver were alleged to have stopped while Bucchere continued on, according to Ong Stillman.
A second intersection off Market and Castro streets appears to come closely after the first. Today, the District Attorney’s office confirmed that it was in that intersection–the one closest to the Castro Theater, that the pedestrian Sutchi Hui was hit.
Bucchere who is now being charged with manslaughter described his crash on the Mission Cycling Club’s message board which has since been removed, and pointed to the difficulty the rider had descending the hill. As everyone knows, pedestrians don’t normally take cyclists seriously, passing in front of them before the light has turned green (for the pedestrians) if no cars are coming.
And although the cyclist showed compassion for the 71-year-old in his March 29 post, his words may been taken against him:
Around 8 a.m. I was descending Divisadero Street southbound and about to cross Market Street. The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop.The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions. The intersection very long and the width of Castro Street at that point is very short, so, in a nutshell, blammo.
The quote/unquote ‘scene of the crime’ was that intersection right by the landmark Castro Theatre – it leads from a really busy MUNI station to that little plaza where The Naked Guy always hangs out. It was commuter hour and it was crowded as all getup. I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop,so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.
I don’t remember the next five minutes but when I came to, I was in a neck brace being loaded into an ambulance. I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn’t mine. Apparently I hit a 71-year-old male pedestrian and he ended up in the ICU with pretty serious head injuries. I really hope he ends up OK.”
SFist reported that Bucchere may have been traveling at 35 mph because of Strava data, a mapping app, he published. He is also have allegedly said that his helmet saved his life.
An unfair reference to the post indicates that Bucchere’s ode to his helmet was immoral given the pedestrian’s death. But at the time he wrote his post, Bucchere thought the pedestrian was still alive.
Should it be found that few or no motorists are charged with manslaughter in pedestrian deaths, the charges against Bucchere could be viewed as not only far reaching, but politically motivated. CI is still investigating this through the SFDA’s office.
San Francisco police have been cracking down on more cyclists since the incident issuing tickets, according to the SF Huffington Post.
But that reaction is also disporportionate to the number of fatalities and crashes that drivers cause. That type of reaction is not unique to San Francisco, may have its roots in the political environment writes the Huffington Post:
Some critics have charged that all of this focus on the dangers posed by bicyclists on San Francisco’s streets is largely unwarranted–a creation of sensationalist media buzz and cranks who see cycling’s rapidly increasing popularity, not to mention local politicians’ incorporation of the concern of bike advocates into their own agendas, as a threat to the dominance of private automobiles and public buses on city streets.
While they are gathering details of other prosecutions of motorists, the San Francisco DA’s office noted that the city is heavily used by cyclists. For that reason, they hold regular meetings with local cycling and pedestrian safety groups such as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and WalkSF.