As part of this blog, we have highlighted the many dangers facing bicycle riders on San Francisco streets. Recent studies have proven that San Francisco’s steep hills and narrow streets make our city one of the most dangerous in the nation for cyclists. However, a recent news story reminds us that bicycle riders can pose a serious danger to other travelers as well, especially pedestrians.
A 61-year-old woman crossing Mission Terrace last week was struck by a bicyclist who was quickly moving his way through traffic. Although oncoming traffic had a green light at the time of the pedestrian accident, the rider sped past other drivers who were waiting for the woman to clear the crosswalk and collided with the victim 10 feet from the sidewalk.
The woman was admitted to a local hospital in critical condition, although her injuries have since improved to non-life-threatening.
The cyclist has yet to receive any charges from police investigators but officers did impound his bicycle. The cyclist was riding a type of bike sometimes called “fixies,” which are very difficult to stop. Fixie riders can use their pedals for braking, but some experienced bicycle messengers believe it can be a hard skill to learn. Traffic laws state that fixie bikes must be outfitted with additional handlebar brakes, which the rider in last week’s accident did not have. Investigators believe it may have been his inability to stop the bike which caused the accident.
Some San Francisco bike enthusiasts say that fixies are becoming increasingly popular among a certain crowd of inexperienced riders who like the bikes for their cool factor as opposed to their safety functions. In congested cities like San Francisco where cars, trucks, bikes, and pedestrian traffic vie for space, this trend may cause the number pedestrian accidents to spike in the future.
Source: San Francisco Examiner. “Fixie bike accident in San Francisco highlights danger of going brakeless.” Andrea Koskey, 18 February 2011.