If Chris Bucchere is Guilty, Is It Possible that Cyclists Have Been Responsible for More SF Pedestrian Deaths Than Drivers in 2012?

I still don’t know if pedestrian Sutchi Hui had the right of way when he stepped out on the crosswalk at Castro near Market on March 29th. (Cyclist Chris Bucchere’s story isn’t adding up so far and he’s got a lawyer already and the police are investigating, so you make the call on that one.)

But if he is found responsible for that death, how does that match up with the deaths caused by car, MUNI bus, shuttle bus, and truck drivers in San Francisco County so far in 2012?

We’ve had at least two jaywalkers (one on Hayes, one of Lombard) violate right of way and die so far in 2012 And there was a young man who fell off a skateboard and got hit by a truck and died. And there was some hit-and-run(?) by a MUNI bus driver but I don’t think the person who was hit died. And then there was an older driver who went around another car (which was waiting for a pedestrian) and hit said pedestrian, but that pedestrian didn’t die.

Now I’m sure San Francisco’s horrible drivers will catch up to cyclists in the pedestrian death responsibility count by the end of 2012, but I don’t think they’ll catch up to the pedestrians themselves. What can we do to educate pedestrians?

Here’s the mantra:

“Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way.”

This is incorrect for at least two reasons.

1. Jaywalkers don’t have the right of way. That’s why they’re held at fault for their own deaths when they die, with regularity, on the streets of San Francisco. Now, does a driver have the right to aim for jaywalking peds and then say, “Well, he was jaywalking so it’s his fault.” No. Drivers need to be on the lookout for errant peds at all times. But if a pedestrian pops out into the street in the middle of a block and gets hit, the ped has committed a right of way violation and, generally speaking, the ped is at fault.

2. Pedestrians need to wait for intersections to clear even though they have a green light and they are at a crosswalk. Most San Franciscans don’t understand this. If you’re a ped you need to look before you enter a crosswalk, especially if your light has just turned green. (What peds in San Francisco tend to do at certain intersection is to actually jump the light, oh well.)

If you don’t like this situation, you could lobby to have the law changed to give peds the right to jaywalk with impunity and the right to start crossing as soon as their lights turn green. Then, pedestrians would actually “Always Have the Right of Way” in real life.

Would that be good?

I don’t think so.

It certainly would clarify who’s at fault for what, but more peds would die.

Why don’t we change the mantra to this:

You should drive* AS IF Pedestrians Always Have the Right of Way.

And to the peds we should say this:

Pedestrians DON’T Always Have the Right of Way

Is that too complicated?

If you want to prevent pedestrian deaths, your primary solution is getting inside the head of the ped to figure out what’s going wrong. Your primary solution isn’t going to be more bulb-outs and wider sidewalks.

Do you want to punish drivers more when they do bad things? Well, be my guest, but that’s a tough row to hoe…

*Your MUNI bus, your shuttle bus, your big truck, your bike, your private car, whatever


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20 Responses to “If Chris Bucchere is Guilty, Is It Possible that Cyclists Have Been Responsible for More SF Pedestrian Deaths Than Drivers in 2012?”

  1. mk92 says:

    You said: “I still don’t know if pedestrian Sutchi Hui had the right of way when he stepped out on the crosswalk at Castro near Market on March 29th. Cyclist Chris Bucchere’s story isn’t adding up so far and he’s got a lawyer already and the police are investigating, so you make the call on that one.”

    That’s exactly one of the main concerns with this case. It’s being tried in the media. YOU (i.e., anyone in the public) should not be “making the call” at this point on whether Bucchere is guilty. He is entitled to a fair trial (assuming he’s even charged) and the jury should make the determination based on admissible evidence. No one should be prejudging Bucchere based on the alleged facts that SFPD chooses to leak.

    Also, your suggestion that Bucchere is somehow more likely to be guilty because he’s retained a lawyer is rEdiculous. If it’s at all possible that you’ll be charged with a crime or hit with a civil suit, you are better off getting a lawyer sooner rather than later (this should be self-evident). The notion that the innocent have “nothing to hide” and therefore wouldn’t need attorneys, while quaint, is so far off base, it’s barely worth commenting on (go look at the innocent people who ended up on death row but ended up being released after DNA testing became accepted).

  2. SFC says:

    The main concern with this case should be why Sutchi died. IMO.

    If this case is being “tried in the media” then most cases of ped death are “tried in the media.” So what. Frankly, you sound like crim defense counsel.

    Rest assured, your Stanford U college chum WILL be charged with something. If this wasn’t the case before, it sure as hell is now, after his March 29th posting.

    Which jury will make a determination? Civil or criminal? Both? It’s entirely possible that Bucchere could get off scot-free owing to the tremendously high standards required for a criminal conviction..

    Was OJ Simpson innocent after that jury voted “not guilty?”

    If a shopkeeper lets KTVU look at some surveillance video, is that a leak? If Bucchere or his lawyer releases a statement giving his estimation of speed, is that a leak? I don’t know what you’re getting at.

    How am prejudging Bucchere if I’m saying I don’t know whether he had the right of way or not?

    Bucchere knows what’s coming more than anyone, I’d imagine. In his shoes, I wouldn’t have hired an attorney.

    Did Bucchere hire an attorney BEFORE he made his post on March 29th? That would be something. Why don’t you lecture him about the best time to hire an attorney?

    At this point, Cassman is mostly doing PR work, as is the cabal of rich white cycling buds of one Chris Bucchere. As is your right.

    It’s not “self-evident” to me when Bucchere should have hired an attorney.

    Do you think Bucchere is “innocent?” Most people on death row aren’t “innocent.”

    I don’t think you need to wait for any jury to start having an opinion.

    I think he’s lying about the light timing. I think something was going wrong inside his head when he came upon Market Street.

  3. mk92 says:

    I have no idea whether Bucchere is innocent. Neither do you. That’s the point.

    How are you prejudging? Well, gee, you lay out these 3 “facts” — (1) his facts don’t add up; (2) he’s hired an attorney; and (3) police are investigating. Your implication that these facts indicate he’s guilty is crystal clear and your disingenuous invitation for the reader to “make the call” doesn’t change the implication in the slightest.

  4. Strava_kills says:

    I think he’s lying about the light timing. I think something was going wrong inside his head when he came upon Market Street. I think you’re hoping you will get picked for his jury so you can point to this blog post and get dismissed and be clear for another year from Jury Duty.

  5. SFC says:

    I don’t feel an obligation to defend Bucchere. OTOH, you, for some reason, do.

    You probably had “no idea” about OJ Simpson killing his ex-wife and her sort-of-bf until you discovered from that jury that OJ was “innocent.”

    I heard about his statement and then I went to the intersection and then I figured he was lying. Do you want to get into that? The SFPD and/or SFDA haven’t leaked me their reports yet so I don’t know the full story for sure.

    Most people who hire defense attorneys are guilty, don’t you think?

    How is this blog dangerous?

    I don’t hope that I will get picked to be on the jury.

    Here’s somebody else you don’t want on the jury.


  6. Du(d)e Process says:

    This is the most responsible, reasonable and logical posting you’ve made on this topic. Reason, logic and journalistic responsibility seem to be in short supply this days, so for that, I commend you.

    “Pedestrians always have the right-of-way” is the single most dangerous myth purveyed by the SFBC and many other well-intentioned groups and people. It gives pedestrians a false sense of confidence when crossing the street (legally or otherwise) and it abdicates people on foot from taking responsibility for their own safety. What if a driver or cyclist who thinks pedestrians always have the right-of-way does something really unsafe (e.g. drives into opposing traffic) to avoid hitting a jaywalker? (S)he could easily end up doing far more harm than good.

    This is the sort of interesting dialogue that I had hoped would eventually come from this tragic accident after the trolls and lynch mobs moved on to demand that someone else be burned at the stake. While I’m sure that condemnation and public outcry and calls for intentionally dooring cyclists is cathartic on some sick psychological level, it really doesn’t help solve the problem of pedestrian safety in cities like San Francisco.

    And while I’d love to end on a positive note, I do have to point our your little parenthetical cheap-shot. (Everybody needs page views, right?)

    Police investigate lots of things and people — that doesn’t imply guilt. Retaining council (civil or criminal) doesn’t imply guilt. Comparing one leaked “fact” to another leaked “fact” and wondering why they don’t add up? That doesn’t imply guilt either. In fact, since you’ve shown me that you are capable of reason and that you understand the CVC, let me remind you (without prejudice or criticism) that due process in this country means that:

    1. People not charged with crimes are innocent
    2. People charged with crimes are — wait for it — innocent

    You cannot declare someone guilty until (s)he:

    1. Pleads guilty
    2. Is found guilty by a jury of his or her peers

    However this plays out, I hope that the streets of San Francisco will end up being safer for all the people who need and want to use them. Dispelling myths like “pedestrians always have the right-of-way” is a great start. Next step: go tell the SFBC.

  7. sfcitizen says:

    Yeah, but I think he’s a bad cyclist, a little reckless.

    Anyway, his case doesn’t really matter. What matters is preventing the number of similar cases in the future. The world doesn’t revolve around Chris Bucchere, of course.

    The leaked facts of Bucherre dissembling come from Bucchere himself.

  8. Du(d)e Process says:

    I’m trying so hard to respect you and your writing, but you’re making it inordinately difficult.

    You’re right on so many levels: Bucchere’s case doesn’t matter. Ang’s case doesn’t matter. How/where/why leaks happened doesn’t matter. I don’t have all the data to back this up, but I think it’s safe to say that most pedestrian deaths involving vehicles get very little coverage, even if the vehicle happens to say MUNI on it. However, the two pedestrian deaths involving cyclists have gotten an inordinate amount of coverage.

    I read somewhere that there’s an average of 2.5 pedestrian/vehicle accidents in SF every day. If it happens every day, it isn’t news. This is a classic case of “Man Bites Dog” and the media are exploiting it to no end. Outrageous stories cause outrage. Outrage causes pageviews/comments/ratings/subscriptions/etc. And that’s how the media get paid.

    As you said, what really matters is “preventing the number of similar cases in the future.” Agreed. Let’s stop talking about Bucchere and start talking about making SF roads/bike lanes/sidewalks safer for everyone.

    So that middle paragraph is spot on, including your astrological assertions. But then you have to throw in a few shots below the belt: “bad cyclist,” “a little reckless,” leaked facts are a cover up. Do you know Chris Bucchere? Have you ridden with him? Have you heard anyone who knows him or has ridden with him call him “bad” or “reckless” or are you just as poisoned by what you’ve read and heard as everyone else? And, if “the world doesn’t revolve around Chris Bucchere,” why does an otherwise responsible article about pedestrian safety have a headline that starts with: “If Chris Bucchere is Guilty…”

    Believe me, I’m as tired of talking about this as you are. Let’s both stop and let the system do what the system does.

  9. SFC says:

    Oh no, don’t bust a gut on respect – I can deal.

    You run somebody over in your car and then make a Bucchere-like post five hours later, you’ll get some attention also, I’m sure.

    Inordinate amount of coverage? I disagree.

    I think people like Bucchere are more critical than the design of roads, bike lanes, sidewalks, etc. IMO.

    Bucchere is a bad cyclist. Obviously.

    Do you know Hitler?

    Have you ridden with Hitler?

    Have you heard anybody from the Third Reich say that he’s a bad furher?

    I think Bucchere reflected and then made a stab at an exculpatory statement five hours later. Does that make me poisoned?

    My point is that bike riders are responsible for more ped deaths on the streets of SF this year so far than car, MUNI, truck, taxi, etc drivers I don’t know for sure that Bucchere will get convicted of anything.

    Don’t you think you acted badly descending that hill?

  10. Gunther Hust says:

    “I don’t feel an obligation to defend Bucchere. OTOH, you, for some reason, do.”

    But you feel an obligation to attack him.

    Innocent until proven guilty.

  11. sfcitizen says:

    Don’t you think Bucchere did something wrong?

  12. Du(d)e Process says:

    It seems remarkably early (only a scant nine comments deep!) to do so, but since you mentioned Hitler, I’m afraid I have to invoke Godwin’s Law for this thread: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

    Godwin’s law (also known as Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin’s Law of Nazi Analogies[1][2]) is an observation made by Mike Godwin in 1990[2] that has become an Internet adage. It states: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”[2][3] In other words, Godwin observed that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably criticizes some point made in the discussion by comparing it to beliefs held by Hitler and the Nazis.

  13. sfcitizen says:

    But that’s not really a law tho, is it, Chris?

  14. Du(d)e Process says:

    I’ll wait for Chris to answer that one, but I will say this:

    Since you seem to believe that everything you’ve read about this incident on the internet is true and since Godwin’s Law is also well documented on the internet, then Godwin’s Law also must be true, at least from your point of view.

    Also, how can you dispute the validity of Godwin’s Law when you yourself brought Hilter into the discussion, thereby providing even more empirical proof?

    Your case against Godwin’s Law is about as strong as your case against Bucchere.

  15. sfcitizen says:

    As opposed to “you don’t know me so you can’t judge me.” Which law does that cliche violate?

    And, all right “Amanda” why don’t you tell me which part of the story is true and which part isn’t true?

    I think Chris wasn’t driving his bike the right way and that caused an accident. Is that true?

    And what difference does reputation make? Perhaps that could be a factor during sentencing, but otherwise…

  16. mk92 says:

    By the way, calling people “Chris” because they disagree with your blog post doesn’t advance your argument in the least. Just looks petty and makes it seem like you have nothing of substance to say.

  17. sfcitizen says:

    More unsolicited advice from Bucchere’s shcolchum. Perhaps you’re too close to the story?

    I think u mean person. hey whats cb up to these days? i wonder if hes still posting to the net, perhaps using a new handle or two…

  18. ugh says:

    thats definitely cb evoking the law.
    he’s on vacation in Hawaii at the moment.
    must be nice.

  19. E. Rommel says:

    You totally did Nazi that coming.

  20. sfcitizen says:

    Oh, I did.

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