S.F. might school scofflaw cyclists 

click to enlarge S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo

Bicyclists behaving badly in San Francisco could soon find themselves in a mandatory class to learn the rules of the road.

Officials are paying more attention to safety measures on The City’s bustling streets after a fatal collision between bicyclist Chris Bucchere and a pedestrian at a busy intersection in the Castro district late last month. Bucchere — who is currently being investigated by police and the District Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges — wrote in an online post later that day that he “couldn’t stop” and instead “laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least populated place I could find.”

Bert Hill, chairman of The City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, said a program is being developed by his group, police and the District Attorney’s Office to give first-time bicycling violators a dose of information instead of — or in addition to — a normal moving-violation citation. More details of the program, which could be rolled out by the fall, are still being determined, Hill said.

Hill said he would like the system to be less punitive and more of a community outreach effort.

“The idea is to change the bicycle culture in San Francisco,” Hill said. “We need to build a peer interest in the fact that we’re all riding together.”

The announcement of the bicycling class proposal came during a news conference Tuesday called by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu to bring together bike and pedestrian advocates, and to announce he would introduce a resolution that seeks “a holistic approach” to safer streets by increasing accountability for cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike. The resolution urges more media outreach, more education programs, the establishment of priority intersections for police enforcement and better record-keeping of collision incidents.

Although the influential 12,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition regards the latest incident as “deeply troubling,” a spokeswoman reminded the group Tuesday that most pedestrian-involved collisions — 96 percent of the incidents in 2011 — involve cars not bikes. The incident appears to have sparked defensiveness from the group, which passed out bike safety literature on the Friday morning after reports of Bucchere’s questionable online screed about the collision became widespread.

“It is worth noting that just days before this incident — which is drawing so much attention — two pedestrians were hit and killed on the same day by people driving motor vehicles,” said Lainie Motamedi, the coalition’s board president. “These incidents received far less media attention, and that’s a shame because those were no less tragic losses of life.”

Stephanie Ong Stillman, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office, said its investigation of Bucchere is awaiting a medical examiner’s report on the pedestrian’s cause of death, and more witness accounts of the
March 29 rush-hour incident.

Mayor Ed Lee, speaking at the Commonwealth Club of California on Tuesday evening, said responsibility for safety on the streets falls to everyone — bicyclists and motorists. He said there would be increased attention at accident hot spots across The City, including on Market Street, that would begin with education and then include stricter enforcement.


Dangerous collisions in The City

  • 37,700 Nonfatal injury collisions between 1999 and 2009
  • 379 Traffic-related fatalities between 1999 and 2009
  • 811 Pedestrians hit by cars in 2010
  • 18 Pedestrians hit by bicycles in 2010
  • 899 Pedestrians injured while walking in 2011
  • 96 Percentage of pedestrians injured in 2011 who were hit by motorists
  • 13 Pedestrian fatalities in 2011
  • 5 Pedestrian fatalities so far in 2012
  • 71% Increase in bicyclists over the past five years

Sources: SFMTA, S.F. Bicycle Coalition, Police Department, Supervisor David Chiu

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