Unfortunately, our nation is committed to blaming cyclists for their own deaths. San Francisco police were quick to do so after a 47-year-old veteran cyclist was killed in a bike accident after a collision with a bus.
According to the police, the victim had been riding in the lane and attempted to pass the slow moving bus when his wheel got stuck in a Muni track, causing him to lose control and be thrown into the path of the bus. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Now, a local news station has confirmed that the police department is blaming the victim for his own death, saying that he should have been riding in the bike lanes. However, as pointed out by the same news station, there are no bike lanes in the area where the victim was killed.
To add insult to injury, the police reportedly have in their possession a video of the collision, but refuse to share it with anyone; not even an attorney representing the victim’s family.
This instance is not the only example of cyclist blaming in recent memory. Another example is the 2013 case of a 24-year-old female victim. Police quickly chastised the deceased victim for causing the crash, even though she was riding in the bike lane when the truck swerved and hit her.
Authorities would not accuse the driver of any wrong doing until after the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition canvassed the area and found video of the accident; a task the SFPD were unwilling to do.
When a 66-year-old rider was killed in an intersection, authorities failed to charge the driver that struck him despite eye-witness accounts that the driver had run the red light.
Drivers regularly remind us riders that we are required to obey the traffic laws, same as anyone else. That is true, and most times we do, but the laws were written by drivers, for drivers. We have to stop cyclist blaming, and instead work harder to make the streets safer for everyone. More protected bike lanes and more regulations to protect cyclists are needed.
Frederick M. Dudek rides his bike every day and works hard to promote safe cycling while also fighting on behalf of people that have been injured in bicycle accidents