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The Spokesman

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Bicycles Don't Have to Be Deadly to Pedestrians

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2012 at 9:30 AM

"No one pays any attention to it, of course," wrote the man who photographed this light in Denver last year. - JEFFREY BEALL / FLICKR
  • Jeffrey Beall / Flickr
  • "No one pays any attention to it, of course," wrote the man who photographed this light in Denver last year.

Welcome to The Spokesman, our weekly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community. For those of you wondering, the title of this column is a slightly tongue-in-cheek merging of bicycling and blogging terms, not a claim that Clements speaks for anyone but himself.

--Keith Bowers

In the wake of the tragic Castro bike crash in March, you'd be hard-pressed to find cyclists or pedestrians who don't feel some twinge of connection to the case. Sutchi Hui, a Daly City resident, was crossing Castro Street at Market on foot, just behind his wife, when he was struck by a rider, Chris Bucchere, who's suspected of speeding and being out of control. Hui, 71, died four days later. Bucchere, meanwhile, could face a felony vehicular manslaughter charge from the District Attorney's Office

Everything about this case just plain sucks. Even by the morbid standard of fatal bike collisions, which can be as sensationalized as they are rare, this one sticks out. People try to pin a lot of cartoonish BS on cyclists -- scan the comments of most any blog post or story on the subject -- and most of it we can shrug off. But this case is un-shruggable. There's so much to learn and too much at stake.

Many riders are lucky not to have caused a Bucchere-style crash, yet in their hubris -- going fast does feel awesome -- they see themselves not as lucky but as skilled. At least one video exists of Bucchere in the intersection, effectively showing his luck running out. In an online forum following the crash, Bucchere, probably woozy and dull with medication and adrenaline, wrote, "the light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop." Those are the words of someone who didn't realize until far too late that he wasn't the rider he thought he was.

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Four Tips for Bicyclists at Stop Signs

Posted By on Thu, May 3, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Bicycle + car = OW! This cyclist wasn't at fault, but the crash did happen at a stop sign. - SHAWN ALLEN / FLICKR
  • Shawn Allen / Flickr
  • Bicycle + car = OW! This cyclist wasn't at fault, but the crash did happen at a stop sign.

Welcome to The Spokesman, our weekly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community. For those of you wondering, the title of this column is a slightly tongue-in-cheek merging of bicycling and blogging terms, not a claim that Clements speaks for anyone but himself.

--Keith Bowers

When riding a bike in this hilly, congested, distractingly scenic, and carefree burg of San Francisco, breaking the law is a little too easy -- especially at stop signs. On Tuesday I wrote about some principles of good communication at intersections. ("S.F. Cyclists: If We Don't Communicate Well With Others, We Don't Deserve Respect.") Now, from a practical perspective, here are some points to aid our role (ha, roll) when navigating intersections with stop signs:

1. Slowing Down Is Great.

As the saying goes, where's the fire? Conservation of energy is great and all, but so is conservation of your life. Boo-yah! That said, the law -- roughly, "stop at that sign, or we'll, um, you know..." -- is broken about 134,000 times a day here. It's effectively unenforceable. Fixed-gear riders and folks in cleated shoes are especially vulnerable to ticketing. That said, more ticketing is not a viable solution. But a solution exists.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

S.F. Cyclists: If We Don't Communicate Well With Others, We Don't Deserve Respect

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2012 at 8:30 AM

UPDATE: We now know this sign is in Toronto. We wonder whether things are any different there? - JAMES D. SCHWARTZ / FLICKR
  • James D. Schwartz / Flickr
  • UPDATE: We now know this sign is in Toronto. We wonder whether things are any different there?

Welcome to The Spokesman, our weekly bicycle column written by French Clements, a San Francisco resident and distance cyclist who considers it pretty routine to ride his bike to Marin County or San Jose and back. He belongs to a club, the SF Randonneurs, and is active in numerous aspects of the cycling community. For those of you wondering, the title of this column is a slightly tongue-in-cheek merging of bicycling and blogging terms, not a claim that Clements speaks for anyone but himself.

--Keith Bowers

The bike scene in San Francisco feels bipolar lately. There's nice stuff -- more bike shops, more bike lanes, more riders -- but there's some nasty stuff too.

Two-wheeled scofflaws compel police to go on a ticketing binge, a spree that's as sudden as it is misdirected. Deadly bike accidents on the Embarcadero and in the Castro gain a sensationalized aura that disguises their rarity. Victimization posts in comments-sections online ricochet across the web and spill into intersections and crosswalks.

And there's so much YELLING!

The Spokesman hereby offers a communitywide talk-down. I appeal to my fellow cyclists (and hope my distant motorist-cousins will take our efforts to heart). Dudes, dudettes, let's step up our game. The only figure that's rising faster than San Francisco's bike-ridership is its bike-accident rate, and studies show we cause more accidents than we might realize.

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