Breaking: Muni Bus that Killed Cyclist Cheng Jin Lai Missing Key Safety Equipment

This television image indicates the bus that killed a 78-year-old man is missing an "S-1 Gard" -- a device which prevents people from being run over by a bus' back-right tire
At around 8:45 on the morning of Friday, Oct. 18, 78-year-old Cheng Jin Lai was pedaling his bicycle through SoMa while apparently collecting recyclables. Moments later he was dead.

An "S-1 Gard" of the sort missing from the bus that killed Cheng Jin Lai
A 27-Bryant bus struck him as it turned from 11th Street onto Bryant. Elderly men on bicycles don't fare well in bus collisions; Lai died on the scene. Neither the police nor the Medical Examiner's office would offer details on the manner of the cyclist's death. 

Multiple city sources, however, told SF Weekly Lai was crushed by the back-right tire of the bus. 

Disturbingly, a safety device specifically designed to prevent cyclists or pedestrians from being crushed by a bus' back-right tire - and which is standard-issue on Muni vehicles - was missing from this bus

Several sources within Muni who observed Bus No. 8410 confirm that it did not have an "S-1 Gard" protecting its back-right tire (which is also indicated in the television image accompanying this story). 

This device is simply a bumper-shaped hunk of polyurethane mounted in front of the wheel, which functions like a cow-catcher in pushing away people, animals, or objects. The bus involved in the lethal accident had an S-1 Gard at one point, a source tells SF Weekly: "The mounting parts for the device were still intact -- but it had been missing for some time."

S-1 Gards tend to fall off buses when they "go over a curb or hit an object" says an experienced Muni manager. "But they don't keep enough in stock to reinstall them. There are a lot of coaches that do not have them." 

SF Weekly on Tuesday requested the last several monthly inspections for Bus No. 8410 and the "drivers' defect card" the operator completed prior to taking it out on its fatal run. Neither has yet been delivered. Multiple Muni drivers confirm, however, that if they discover an S-1 Gard is missing, that alone wouldn't be enough to justify a bus being pulled out of service. 

"I check for it, but I don't know that most operators do. But if it's not there, I don't think it's a big deal," says one veteran driver. "If it's not there, you're gonna end up pulling out anyway. They'll say, 'Hey, drive it.'" 

Another driver adds that a coach without an S-1 Gard will still be taken out to serve the public "because the bus still rolls." Asked if this is good policy, he says "No, this isn't a good idea. But this is what we're dealing with." 

Sadly, it appears that's what Cheng Jin Lai was dealing with, too.

My Voice Nation Help
Dante Forrest
Dante Forrest

Why was the bus Not taken out of service????? Hope His Family files a Huge Lawsuit and teach incompetent Muni a lesson costing them Millions . The Person that allowed that Bus to be in service should be fired and the executives fired that allow broken busses to be be in service

Joe Phillips
Joe Phillips

What??!! You mean MUNI is dysfunctional!!?? They'll kill you on your bike. They'll kill you on your motorcycle. Sometimes they'll even kill you on a crosswalk. The savvy commuter lives in fear of going anywhere near their death machines.

Jonas Heineman
Jonas Heineman

A friend of mine was permanently disabled when struck by the rear wheels of a bus many years ago. To hear that both incidents were likely preventable is very sad; I hope that SFMTA | San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency addresses this issue immediately by checking every bus and ensuring ample stock is on hand to replace those that are damaged or lost.

Rob LeVan
Rob LeVan

Muni: A case study in systemic financial mismanagement, maintenance misaligned with public safety, and an epidemic of complacency with it all.

Roxie Mo
Roxie Mo

I agree with Nancy! They will come up with any excuse, as usual. We paid hella money in a transportation that it is not either safe or reliable, muni sucks!

Patricia Beam Huff
Patricia Beam Huff

r. I. p. pedaling man on bicycle. thanks for your work toward making the city a better place to live.

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