San Francycle: What to Do When Crazy Drivers Want to Kill You
Well, it happened again: "Angry Driver Attacks Mission Cyclists," the headline reads.
Here's the synopsis: Two cyclists were riding down Shotwell Street. An aggressive truck came up behind them, making it known he wasn't happy with their slower speed. So the driver rammed them from behind -- and then kept going. They had no serious injuries, but one bike was totaled.
For what it's worth, there were plenty of witnesses and the cyclists got the driver's license plate. But whether the SFPD will take the time to hunt down the owner of the black Chevy Impala with plate number 6PWS 040 is another story that's sure to make news one day.
Maybe cops will spring into action this time. Or maybe they won't. But it's worth noting that this case is remarkably similar to another hit and run two years ago where a driver hit a cyclist and sped off. Despite having witnesses, photographs of the license plate, and reports from paramedics, police informed the victim that "no action has been taken on your case."
And what about that scary crash a few months later, when a driver made an illegal left turn, hitting a woman on her bike? Never mind that the cyclist had a green light and left turns are prohibited, cops told Streetsblog that cyclists are always at fault and they should leave the city.
And this is why, when I was hit by a car just a few days ago, I didn't bother calling the police. What's the point?
I was riding along Franklin Street, where the speed limit is 25 mph. No car has ever traveled 25 mph on Franklin! Drivers use it to bypass congestion on Highway 101 while zooming from freeway to freeway.
I was riding north in the far right lane, covered in multiple "blinkies" -- and taking the middle of the lane. I could not have been more visible. But that didn't stop a red Scion from clipping my arm with its side mirror. Naturally, the car was going too fast for me to catch the license plate after my short recovery.
No serious injuries, but still -- very scary.
I e-mailed Supervisor Mark Farrell about the incident, since it happened in his district. To his credit, he e-mailed back that same day. "Agreed Franklin can be a dangerous street. Give me a call when you have a minute -- would love to hear more about it," he wrote.
I called and left a message. I hope to chat with him soon.
In the meantime, what are cyclists supposed to do to avoid being clipped, rammed, and run down by crazy drivers? The obvious long-term solution is to create more bike infrastructure that forces drivers to travel at safer speeds and gives cyclists some room to ride.
In the short term, you can legally protect yourself by documenting hazardous drivers with a flipcam attached to a handlebar camera mount.
Or, if you want to adopt a more aggressive posture, you could always prepare yourself for what an Uptown Almanac commenter suggests: "U lock through the drivers side window otta do the trick next time."
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