San Francycle: What to Do When Crazy Drivers Want to Kill You

Categories: bikes
san_francycle copy-thumb-500x178.jpg

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."

What's new?
 
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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189 comments
William
William

u lock my window and im gonna put it on your neck without the key

mmix
mmix

Wow, I don't live in SF, but it looks to me like both the automobile drivers and the bicyclists are breaking the traffic laws and creating dangerous situations.  Where I live, I give cyclists a wide berth, but I also get frustrated when they don't obey traffic laws.  I don't mind them being a part of taffic as long as they obey traffic laws.  When they don't slow down for stop signs or red lights (which I have frequently seen here) they create a dangerous condition for everyone in the immediate area.  If someone swerves to miss them and hits me and my kids, of course I'm going to be angry and that is precisely the conditions they are creating.  I think all drivers should be held accountable for not giving cyclists their due rights and cyclists should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for any traffic violation they commit.  I've got a good friend who cycles competitively and offen to work and tells me stories of getting sideswiped on a regular basis but also freely admits to ignoring stop signs and red lights.  Both of these things are wrong.

Gina R.
Gina R.

Pretty sad to see the lack of respect for other humans. Regardless of your mode of transportation, each on of you should wish each other a safe journey and not stress if someone is moving a bit slower than you. I walk 80%, longboard 10% and catch Muni 10% of my time and I just dont understand how anyone whether its a car, bike, longboard, bus etc could wish someone harm just because there is someone in the way, not moving fast enough. slow down and enjoy your fucking life people!

I'm shaking my head, I thought SF was better than this!

dawdler
dawdler

wow.  i can't believe how ridiculously polarized people are on this.  y'all are talking past each other like a bunch of partisan hacks.

Alamo
Alamo

It's like a critical mass of pissed off drivers.

Stan
Stan

why are you riding on Franklin St anyways? It's a freakin' freeway. Grow up. I used to bike commute and gave up after I shattered some poor woman's windshield with my fist. Because, y'know bicyclists like me were special. I realized that SF is fundamentally unsafe for bike commuting at standard commute hours. And to think that some idiot is arrogant enough to ride on Franklin St. You deserved to get hit.

TheTruthbringer
TheTruthbringer

Number of times in the last two years I've seen a cyclist stop at a red light or stop sign, unless there was cross traffic: two.

Number of times I've been brushed back by a cyclist when I was walking in a marked crosswalk with the right of way: too many times to keep track of.

I don't drive and I use a cane.

Number of times I've seen packs of dozens of cyclists continue through a traffic light when it turns red after a few of them have already gone through: too many to count.

I say what comes around goes around and as a pedestrian I get treated better by motor vehicle drivers than by cyclists.

Just my personal observations and thoughts.

A Throwaway79
A Throwaway79

Let me guess, you're gay?  Why would I think this? 

The thinly-veiled cry for vigilantism there. Yeh.  Nobody else catches it. 

Why else would you publish the description of the car along with it's license plate number if you DIDN'T want all cyclists out there to find and trash the car?

That's just such a gay thing to do.  Fekkish.  

Pci_sf
Pci_sf

I think it would be cool if bike riders obeyed traffic laws and stayed off the sidewalk. When they don't and create dangerous situations for pedestrians and motorists they shouldn't complain about getting smacked around in traffic. I personally look forward to riders cutting me off in traffic so I can smack them with my car. I've done it a few times and won't ever stop. I look forward to driving in the City and taking care of business. Yahoo!

whoosa!
whoosa!

This has to be the most ridiculous comment duel I have ever seen!  Bottom line: both cyclists and drivers are people and people get road rage when someone does something inconsiderate...regardless of whether they are in a car or on a bike.  Both sides need to take responsibility for their bad behavior and relax.  No matter how inconsiderate someone is on the road...it's really not worth killing someone over.

JoelSF
JoelSF

These constant bitch-fights between cyclists and drivers on SF blogs and all the aggression and horror stories they entail make me actually glad to be a Muni rider.

kikka
kikka

BOTTOM LINE! The vast majority of bicyclists in the city don't pay ANY attention to the law or general safety when riding through the streets,whereas the vast majority of drivers do. There is blame on both sides but until the cyclists start following the law, they have no right to complain. 

Jim
Jim

Going north from Market is screwed, infrastructure-wise.  Up Franklin taking the lane at anything less than 20 mph is taking your life into your hands. 

Chris Jordan
Chris Jordan

car/color/plate # - hope this spreads the word!

Jmark Ma
Jmark Ma

what a biased comment.  What about the guy on a bike that grabbed the back of my car when I was driving down ofarrell?  Or the bike riders that go in and out of the front of stores at a high rate of speed nearly hitting everyone they see. 

Has writing gotten this sophomoric?  this story is ridiculous. Both bike riders and drivers need lessons in class and responsible driving/riding.

FairBalancedIsBest
FairBalancedIsBest

Nice, finish the story by recommending violent retaliation.  I'll stop occasionally honking at those bicyclists weaving around in lanes, when they start stopping at stop signs... go ahead just start with one per day.  You'll get a better workout anyways and isn't that the point?  If not, use public transit.

Pmc112
Pmc112

Until a bicyclist can go the posted speed limit then they have no rights. You are not a freaking car. Don't think for a minute it's okay to get in a car lane, go 5 miles an hour and slow everybody down. It's not okay. You are not a car. Repeat...

Wyland
Wyland

are you cyclist going to operate as motorists or pedestrians? pick one.

Guest
Guest

I'm all for people sharing the road, but I am so sick of cyclists behaving like they have more of a  right to city streets than cars. It's completely absurd. EVERYONE needs to follow the same rules of the road or accidents are going to happen, and you cannot always blame drivers if the cyclists are going to have this self righteous attitude that they are almighty and we car drivers are just out to get them. seriously people, just be responsible.

Smoke2fire
Smoke2fire

After getting harassed during one of those critical turd mass events I now take every advantage to crowd cyclists. Nudge cyclists. Turn in front of cyclists, even when I don't need to turn. I'm happy to go around the block. Sometimes I'll signal a left with my arm straight out the window right in there chops even though my blinker works just fine. Occasionally I will act like a dog ran in front of my truck just to jam on my brakes and see there eyes get HUGE.

.......................Fun stuff!

Torta Potty
Torta Potty

i'm sure you'll find somebody who wants to fight you.

Axl37
Axl37

I got as far as "truck", then "Impala" with a car. not truck, license plate number, trucks have commercial plates like 1X11111. Did the writer dream this one up on an acid trip?

Tommy Sayer
Tommy Sayer

exactly correct. That was my first clue

Demesne1
Demesne1

Chevy Impala is not a truck

ya lost me there dude

Mercyodoul1
Mercyodoul1

You actually need a major article on what to do when crazy bikies try to run you down crossing the street in the crosswalk.  The peds probably get in a car and go after the bike riders for revenge---yeah---i can dig it.  mercyodoul

Chris
Chris

Just moved here from NYC, where I had a cyclist friend that would carry a police-issue extendable metal baton that he would routinely put through drivers' side windows if they clipped him and he was able to catch up.  Not a bad idea if I do say so myself.  HOWEVER, CYCLISTS - OBEY THE DAMN LAW.  Cyclists seem to have the same respect for the law as skateboarders, I was nearly killed when I crashed my motorcycle into a parked car as I swerved to avoid a skateboarder blowing through a red light.  First accident in 13 years of motorcycling.  Cracked skull (through an Arai full-face helmet!) and a severed sinus artery nearly that almost bled me to death.  I now have permanent hearing loss, a poor memory, and $100k+ in medical bills.  The cyclist walked away with no injuries.  Next time I'm not swerving. 

Tom Sayer
Tom Sayer

exactly correct. If you want to "pretend" to be a car go right ahead but I'm not going to playland with you.

Guest
Guest

some streets like oak, fell, franklin and the like should not be had by bikes. the lanes are too narrow already for the traffic that exists. i have no clue (other than some sense of entitlement) why any sane bike rider would travel those streets anyway. the whining of many bikers is also how I feel, as a pedestrian, who gets clipped by speeding bikes that ride on sidewalks too when, as a pedestrian, the streets are blocked with tabes and chairs which consume 2/3 of the street width. Quit blaming the operations of things and START blaming the stupidvisors and planners and greedy city coffers who are responsible for things like this. I am fed up with special interests and short sighted politicos who make situations worse. 2 cents from a native.

Torta Potty
Torta Potty

you named three of the best-kept streets in SF, they also have narrow lanes that don't allow cars t pass me; why wouldn't I ride on them??

Sales
Sales

I am a driver and a pedestrian and this is what I see many many cyclists on the city streets

1) They expect pedestrians to give them the right away2) They don't seem to care if they hit pedestrians3) They plough through stop signs and don't look. I have yet to see a cyclist do a full stop at a stop sign, even at busy intersections.

So how do we ID cyclists? They should be licensed same as cars and have plates so they can be identified when leaving the scene of their "crazy behavior"

Jim
Jim

Never ride a bike on Franklin is the lesson you've hopefully learned.

grrlfriday
grrlfriday

To all of you irrationally bicycle-hating motorists out there: no one ever died from exposure to arrogance, elitism, or a sense of entitlement. Yet over 40,000 people are killed every year IN THE U.S. ALONE by automobiles. If 40,000+ are killed, imagine how many more are injured, many seriously. Think about all the families, friends, acquaintances whose lives are devastated by all this carnage. Then spread that over the whole globe, & you realize you have a calamity of epic proportions. 

Now contrast all that tragedy with your own private little beefs about bicyclists' supposed "attitudes", & see if you don't start feeling a little ashamed of yourselves -- because you should, you really should.

And btw, we don't only ride on streets with bike lanes because the streets with bike lanes don't always get us everywhere we need to go. Or am I supposed to use my jet pack for those last few blocks. If you thought about it, you would realize how ridiculous this is. How would you like it if someone said you couldn't go to your corner store because there was no car lane there? In the '60s that was called "Get to the back of the bus," & it doesn't play any better these days than it did back then. Owning a car doesn't give you special privileges, it just makes you a whole lot more deadly. You can bully weaker people out of your way, but that doesn't make it right. I'm horrified by the attitudes of the motorists on this list. If you're going to show such ignorance of the law, and such flagrant disregard for human life, you really shouldn't be given a driver's license.

RobertSF
RobertSF

The bottom line is that way too many bicyclists around here ride a bike for ideological reasons, and because of their motivations, they go out of their way to antagonize automobile drivers.

Jym Dyer
Jym Dyer

@RobertSF  - Rob Anderson? Is that you? It's nutty to assert such a thing, but even if it was true, so what? Last I looked, it was okay to have beliefs in the United States.

mcawkward
mcawkward

Ridin' bikes is super fun; I sure wish it were safer.

Edroberts
Edroberts

saty off he sidwalk and it's all good-mutual respect will go a long way

San Frannie
San Frannie

At least three times in the last week, I have seen cyclists do something that could easily get them killed (running red lights on downhill), blazing through a four-way stop (oh, and not wearing a helmet), and failing to yield at a yield sign.  Speaking as someone who used to primarily commute by bike and by no means a car enthusiast, I am nonetheless sick of the entitled behavior of these cyclists.  They seem to have no problem putting themselves in danger, and at the same time, they don't care if they are putting motorists and our kids in the car in danger either.  Totally self absorbed.  

ilovetheTL
ilovetheTL

Ever been hit by a cyclist not paying attention? I have, my sister has, and I've witnessed many incidents where the cyclist knocks someone down and either pedals off or is slowed down temporarily because the pedestrian is pinned under or tangled up in the bike...so it takes a few minutes but then the cyclist is peddling off to play chicken with cars or assault another pedestrian or vehicle with their bicycle.

I'm happy that I'm surrounded by steel safe inside my truck...

And to all the arrogant cyclists posting comments, just so you all know, drivers have to not only worry about retards like you but we also have to be ready for pedestrians not paying attention, and the most dangerous threat on the road being other vehicles driven by idiots who need their license revoked. You all are worried about dangerous and incompetent drivers? Guess what, SO ARE WE! We have to worry about damage, injury and/or death caused by stupid drivers or aggressive drivers tailgating or attacking us just like cyclists and pedestrians. And no offense, but my vehicle is a lot more valuable than your bike tire and a 5.7L V8 engine is a lot harder and more expensive to repair than any damage done to your silly bicycle...stop whining about drivers and do your part (just like many drivers do) and PAY ATTENTION!!!!!

Briansays
Briansays

start charging the bikers for licensesmake them pay for road useotherwise just another welfare group of freeloaders

MrEricSir
MrEricSir

So in your narrow little mind, because one bicyclist is an asshole, you now have the right to discriminate against all bicyclists?

SH
SH

Assault with a deadly weapon deserves a response. Discharge your weapon into the fleeing felon. They are running amok and will wantonly cause more damage. It is your duty to empty the entire magazine into their body. Start with the gas-pedal foot, and move slowly up to where the brain should be.

I like to pick up the phone and tell the other party that there friend is dead.

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

Get off my road and out of my way and you'll be just fine.  In the meantime, would you like "But I had the right of way!" engraved on your  headstone?

www.MarkTalk.com

RYJO
RYJO

There's a bike lane on Polk, two blocks away.  I live on Franklin & Greenwich and commute on my bike every day.  There is no way in hell I'd take Franklin, lit up like a Christmas tree or not!  Bikers, have some common sense and use bike lanes.

sf native
sf native

Why don't you bikers stick to the BIKE PATHS AND ROUTES. I mean seriously... there's an entire map dedicated to bicyclists. Use it. and stop acting like you're better than the rest of the world.

Scott Stelzer
Scott Stelzer

You must be always a driver, and never a pedestrian. a) sidewalk riding is illegal. b) I'll tell the woman walking out of Starbucks whose coffee got knocked out of her hand and all over her clothes by a sidewalk cyclist hello from you. I will never ride on the sidewalk because I am not an @hole.

Scott Stelzer
Scott Stelzer

Funny, this was another of my replies that was posted as its own comment. It was a reply to "Joe" who said we should "Ride on the sidewalk" but it ended up after "OldBolshevik"'s complaint about sidewalk cyclists.  This and SB's post below show you can never make anyone happy.  If you are on a bike, *someone* will always thinks you should not be riding where you are riding.  But no one ever questions whether you should be driving your Suburban two blocks down the road to buy a candy bar.

RobertSF
RobertSF

Follow the law, not what people say. The law says no riding on the sidewalk.

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