CVC 21456: Did Pedestrian Sutchi Hui Have the Right-of-Way When He Walked Onto Castro Street? Possibly Not

Let’s review:

“The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions.

So it looks as if cyclist Chris Bucchere didn’t run a red light.

Now, what about the law?

“21456.  Whenever a pedestrian control signal showing the words “WALK” or “WAIT” or “DON’T WALK” or other approved symbol is in place, the signal shall indicate as follows:

(a) “WALK” or approved “Walking Person” symbol. A pedestrian facing the signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal, but shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully within the intersection at the time that signal is first shown….”

What this is saying is that pedestrians in California need to let traffic clear an intersection before walking when the WALK turns on for them.

(Most pedestrians in San Francisco don’t seem to know this….)

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34 Responses to “CVC 21456: Did Pedestrian Sutchi Hui Have the Right-of-Way When He Walked Onto Castro Street? Possibly Not”

  1. Sears says:

    “So it looks as if cyclist Chris Bucchere didn’t run a red light.”

    Are you certain of this? Do you have Sutchi Hui’s statement of the indecent?

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Yes I’m certain that it looks as if Bucchere didn’t run a red light. But if you want to pick and choose which part of his story you believe, well then go right ahead.

    If Sutchi Hui checked before crossing Castro at 17th, as he was obligated to do, then he was a much better than average pedestrian.

  3. Mario Tanev says:

    I have to say that a lot of cars cross in the very last moment. They speed up when they see yellow, even though it would be perfectly safe for them to stop. Then they have to endanger pedestrians when the pedestrians have a green. I don’t think such behavior should be tolerated, but I concede that for safety, pedestrians should always make sure those cars have cleared. Perhaps the pedestrians have a harder time noticing a bicycle.

  4. sfcitizen says:

    Under CA law, they’re allowed to cross at the last moment, as are cyclists, as are peds allowed to enter a controlled crosswalk the very instant before their light turns yellow, or the don’t walk sign comes on or whathaveyou,

    The way SF typically handles things at problematic intersections is by having a short segment of all reds for everybody to allow intersections to clear.

    Yep, peds don’t hear bikes so well…

    It’s good advice to check the intersection before walking across, and it’s The Law as well…

  5. Anonymous says:

    Pedestrians in SF never let the intersection clear. To observe that you only have to be anywhere in downtown during rush hour. That said, too many drivers enter an intersection in stop-and-go traffic and get stuck when the light changes, and then the intersection is never technically clear and no pedestrian would ever get across.

    But this story is about bikes and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bicyclist in SF stop at a red light unless cross-traffic was already ahead. I lived in Copenhagen recently. There, the police tickets bicyclists who run red lights so most don’t. What you see at every intersection are bikes queued up waiting for the light to turn. Ask yourself, have you ever EVER seen that sight in SF? I haven’t.

  6. sfcitizen says:

    Blocking the box with your car is against the law of course. You can’t head into an intersection without being confident you can get across in a reasonable amount of time. If you get penned in by peds, then you’re blocking the box, a big no-no.

    You’ll see bikes queuing up on the Panhandle bike path eastbound at Masonic (owing to the fact that cyclists have less time to get across these days).

    But yes, on the half-blocks on Market with signal lights, most cyclists will just pass on through. I do as well.

  7. pchazzz says:

    Bucchere ran the red light, by his own admission:

    “The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop. The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions. The intersection very long and the width of Castro Street at that point is very short, so, in a nutshell, blammo.”

  8. sfcitizen says:

    That’s the exact opposite of running a red light in CA.

  9. CaoNiMa says:

    So you are basing this judgment off the account of the person who (allegedly) caused the accident? Were you at the scene? Did you interview any other witnesses? You are blaming someone for his own death even though you really have no idea what happened. I think you should hold off on the armchair legal commentary because it makes you sound ignorant. Please don’t vote.

  10. sfcitizen says:

    Well, do you think he entered the intersection on a red? Were you at the scene? Did you interview any other witnesses?

    Do you know the law about pedestrian rights of way in crosswalks in CA? Apparently not, even though i just linked to it.

    All right, no voting. Let’s keep the laws the way you don’t like them.

  11. pchazzz says:

    And if you want to get all technical about the law, there is CVC 23103(a) “A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving”. I would say that a bicyclist who by his own admission “just plowed through the crowded crosswalk” would meet the statutory definition of “reckless.”

  12. sfcitizen says:

    And yet, this ped didn’t have the right of way.

    Was the 21 Hayes driver reckless when s/he killed a ped last week? no.
    Was the car driver on Lombard reckless when s/he killed a ped last week? no.
    Was the driver of the car in Mission terrace reckless when s/he killed a ped the past 24 hours? no.

    Pedestrians aren’t allowed to enter crosswalks without check the intersection first. Sorry.

  13. Walker says:

    “The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions.”

    Oh, please. It takes at least 5-10 seconds to walk from the sidewalk to the middle of the intersection (to fill up the intersection from both directions).

    If you can’t stop your bike with that much notice, you’re obviously traveling in excess of California’s Basic Speed Law and/or the statutory speed limit.

  14. sfcitizen says:

    Lots of peds jump the light at that intersection.

    I think you’re way high on your seconds. I’ll check out the place when I get the chance…

  15. Not that facts matter to you says:

    “The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop,” the post stated.

    —-

    But hey, you’ve got a killer to defend — don’t let his own words stand in your way.

  16. sfcitizen says:

    If you believe what the biker says, then he didn’t run the red light. Maybe entering an intersection on a yellow is considered running a red light wherever you’re from, but we’re dealing with CA law here.

    Now, you might now believe anything in his online statements – your choice.

  17. Angel says:

    The cyclist, Chris Bucchere is from Virginia and he is allegedly smart enough to own a company and he doesn’t have enough intelligence or judgement to know that the busiest crosswalks in San Francisco are full of pedestrians especially during the rush hours? He lives blocks from the accident.

    I think he had specific intent to harm with no compassion or respect for human life. In his writings he makes a joke about incident and talks more about his beloved helmet. He is obviously guilty like the other cyclist who killed a 68yr old but the district attorney seems to be afraid to charge Chris. He only killed an old man, right?

    Cyclists are extremely aggressive and this is part of their culture. I have experienced their daring displays as you can hear crowds murmuring “woa” as they whiz dangerously past pedestrians. They even kick your car while you are driving slow. They view it as like “a rush” to risk other’s lives including their own.

    And now I see Chris’ lawyer twists the story to make it sound like ‘Chris is devasted’ when in fact Chris wrote about being glad the “RIVER of blood” was not his and he was more distraught about his helmet, “that may she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider and live and ride on. Can I get an amen? Amen”. Now when you read that does this sound like he is distraught? The answer is ‘no’. If he was charged he would only get a slap on the hand. … Burn in hell Chris Bucchere. You need to pay the family a million dollars in the least.

  18. pchas says:

    I’m with Walker. The wakk signal must have been green for a few seconds in order for the crosswalk to have been as full as Bucchere said it was.

  19. sfcitizen says:

    People jump that light all the time. It’s bulbed-out on both sides…

  20. Ken Toronto says:

    I know SF a bit from a few visits, and I’ve been known to ride a bike, otherwise I’m on the outside of this.

    But I’m fairly convinced that this accident indicates that the behaviour of some cyclists needs to be better policed… eg ticketing blitz on red-light runners.

    Here’s a comparison – In boating, like traffic, there are clear-cut rules for who has the right-of-way and when. But in maritime law, every party is expected to maintain sufficient caution and do everything possible to avoid collision, even if they have right of way. Having the right-of-way in a preventable accident is does not absolve them of blame.

    I think this tragic accident clearly indicates that Mr Bucchere, whether he technically had right-of-way or not, was not conducting his vehicle with sufficient care to suit the circumstances.

  21. Rob Anderson says:

    Jim, you sound like just another SF cyclist rationalizing reckless behavior.

  22. Disgusted biker says:

    “Police sources tell us the file forwarded to the district attorney includes the name and number of a motorist who reported seeing Bucchere and another cyclist fly through several red lights and stop signs before the deadly Castro district crash. Hui’s wife, incidentally, was walking a few steps ahead when her husband was hit.”

    Guess she had it coming too then, right? What punishment should she get for her lawlessness? Or is being a widow for the rest of her days will be punishment enough for impeding a bike?

    Bring on the felony manslaughter charges. It’s just a shame they can’t give him the same death penalty he chose for Hui.

  23. Disgusted biker says:

    23103. (a) A person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

  24. beatle says:

    PEDESTRIANS HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY IN MARKED OR UNMARKED SIDEWALKS.

    http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/right_of_way.htm

    Get that into your conscious brain and STOP at all crosswalks.

  25. Alai says:

    While I agree that the biker was reckless and should be charged, precedent is that drivers are NOT charged when they run over pedestrians in crosswalks. See: various people last year, such as Aurora Venida, Lourdes Richman, and the man who was run over by the paratransit van this february.

    Of course, this should be changed.

  26. pchazzz says:

    Quite apart from the CVC 21456 issue is Chris Bucchere’s speed. According to the info uploaded to Strava, he was traveling at 35 mph, 10 mph above the 25 mph speed limit:

    22350. No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed
    greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather,
    visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the
    highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of
    persons or property.

    So, even if he entered the crosswalk legally,he was still speeding. Add to that his admisssion that he was unable to control his vehicle and you can slap a reckless driving charge CVC 23103(a) on top of that.

  27. sfcitizen says:

    So, after braking / “laying the bike down” Bucchere was going 35 MPH? I don’t know.

    I don’t know that he was speeding.

    Did you know that Bucchere’s average speed for the 20th Street Bomb segment was 119 MPH? (That’s what was indicated before that info went down the memory hole.)

    Anyway, tell me his position when the light turned red and tell you who had the right of way. Obviously, Bucchere needs to look out for peds who both have the right of way and who don’t. Obviously, Bucchere needs to follow the Basic Speed Law. Obviously, Bucchere needs to have brakes sufficient enough to be able to skid one tire on dry pavement. Obviously.

    But at least now you are looking at the correct law and the proper issue: Did Bucchere enter the intersection legally?

  28. John Murphy says:

    pchazzz -

    “The wakk signal must have been green for a few seconds in order for the crosswalk to have been as full as Bucchere said it was.”

    If you look at the video I took this AM, 2 pedestrians leave the curb from the West side of Market Street and reach the middle of the intersection in 3 seconds. And then the Walk sign turns white as they reach the middle.

    “According to the info uploaded to Strava, he was traveling at 35 mph”.

    His last recorded datapoint was 35.2 MPH. That means he was definitely going pretty fast, but it doesn’t mean he was going 35.2 MPH. He was using an iPhone as a GPS recording device. 3 second sampling leaves a lot of room for error. If they managed to get video they will be able to get a very precise speed as well as figure out when he entered the intersection relative to the light.

  29. John Murphy says:

    “Police sources tell us the file forwarded to the district attorney includes the name and number of a motorist who reported seeing Bucchere and another cyclist fly through several red lights and stop signs before the deadly Castro district crash. Hui’s wife, incidentally, was walking a few steps ahead when her husband was hit.”

    Bucchere was riding alone when he crashed, and probably for the last several blocks. The witness is very suspect.

  30. pchas says:

    Seems like the only way to know definatively if Bucchere.was running a red would br from a video.

  31. sfcitizen says:

    Well, for a wrongful death lawsuit, I don’t think the standard is all that high.

    But for the crim case, it’ll be an uphill battle to show Bucchere was when the light went red…

  32. Cow says:

    Bucchere clearly deserves maximum penalties for travelling 119 MPH!

    That is clearly UNSAFE behavior.

  33. Bigjoe says:

    What was the question? The dead man may have been illegally in the cross walk? It doesn’t matter. The intersection in question is a full city block wide. Go look at a picture of the intersection and you will see that the cyclist had at least 4 choices in direction: Straight (South), which he chose; right onto Market St or 17th St (West); left onto Market St (East) or soft right (Southeast) onto 17th St. It is painfully obvious that apart from laying his bike down the cyclist made no attempt to slow or maneuver. He may have been too far into the “need for speed” to react in time or he may have panicked and froze. Crosswalk laws aside, a driver of any vehicle MUST be ready to respond to emergent situations. I was taught to try and predict pedestrians’ actions. And remember, Hui was IN a crosswalk when he was struck; he did not pop out in the middle of the street from between parked cars. It has been estimated that the cyclist was moving at 35 MPH entering the intersection. I believe he was traveling excess of 45 MPH; even at 35 MPH the biker should have at least been able to slow substantially, IF the biker realized what was happening and reacted. Obviously, not this time.

  34. sfcitizen says:

    He might have been in the crosswalk illegally. It matters to the case of Chris Bucchere.

    Some presume that Bucchere was running the Castro Street Bomb. If that were the case and assuming he was there to time himself on this former Strava segment, then his only choice was to go straight.

    It’s not clear what he meant when he said that he laid it down or whatever. Some feel that means he pedaled as hard as possible.

    45 MPH would be tough to achieve on that run.