For Immediate Release
JUNE 14, 2012
In light of the District Attorney’s charge in the pedestrian fatality in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood on March 29, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition shares the following statement:
This was a tragic incident, and one that has drawn much media attention. The judicial system will determine the facts of the case. As advocates working for safer streets, we believe people should be held responsible for moving carefully and without harming others, whether they are riding a bicycle or driving a car.
We take this opportunity to highlight two important considerations:
First, we encourage people to resist drawing conclusions linking any one incident to impressions about all bicyclists’ behavior. The vast majority of people bicycling are doing so safely and responsibly — as are the majority of people driving. Unfortunately, it is the minority of those acting recklessly who are most noticeable. Now, as at all times, we urge all road users to move on the road with courtesy and respect for others.
Second, we recognize that part of the reason this case has drawn so much attention is because this kind of incident is so rare. Unfortunately, though, pedestrian injuries and fatalities are not rare in our city.
In 2011, 17 pedestrians were killed in San Francisco, and the vast majority of those tragedies were caused by people driving. Within one week of the March 29 incident at Market and Castro Streets, there were two other pedestrian fatalities, both reportedly caused by people driving. Yet these tragedies drew little attention.
On May 29, a 22-year-old University of San Francisco student by the name of Robert Yegge was hit and killed by someone driving at Oak and Franklin Streets. With the exception of one article about Yegge’s death on a transportation blog, no media outlets covered the story.
The City of San Francisco must make safety on our streets a top priority, starting with more effective enforcement, education, and engineering of our roads to prioritize safe travel among all road users. Most collisions — too commonly referred to as “accidents” — could be avoided through more responsible behavior and through improved street designs that prioritize safety over speed.
At the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, we are working diligently and effectively to educate more road users — particularly the huge and growing number of people of all ages biking in the city — about safe, respectful behavior. This includes offering free Urban Bicycle Education classes for adults, Safe Routes to School programs for children, and tens of thousands more people each year with our printed and online safety materials. We are spearheading efforts to educate frequent drivers through taxi and bus driver safety programs.
We continue to try and work with the SF Police Department to improve behavior among all road users by urging them to focus enforcement efforts on those behaviors and locations that we know are the most dangerous, and using data to prioritize limited resources rather than reacting to media or political attention
When moving around our city’s streets — whether driving or bicycling — we all must hold ourselves to the highest standard of safety, and the City of San Francisco can and should do more to make our streets safe for everyone.