Bicyclist struck and killed by motorist at Masonic and Turk Street intersection
At Turk the southbound lanes of Masonic dip considerably, obscuring traffic
A North Panhandle neighbor who stopped in the intersection moments after the fatal collision at Masonic and Turk Friday night described the sequence of events to BIKE NOPA this afternoon. The neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said he was travelling southbound from Geary on Masonic when he reached the Turk intersection at about 10:30 in the evening. A taxi driver passed him, braked, and then he swerved around the bicyclist who was lying in the street after being struck by a hit-and-run motorist. "It was a yellow cab or a yellow and green cab, but he slowed and then went right around him and kept driving. What kind of person does that?" the neighbor said. "I stopped and opened my car doors to alert oncoming traffic to slow down and pass by carefully." The badly-injured 21-year-old man was lying in the inner southbound lane just past the Turk intersection. Parts of his red Nishiki bike were scattered across the lanes.
The near-witness said a woman in a Mercedes had also stopped in the intersection ahead of him. He overheard her tell a police officer that a driver also in a Mercedes ahead of her had hit the bicyclist and did not stop. "One of the bicycle wheels was lodged under her car," he said.
The neighbor then called 911. He thinks he was either the first or second to call. He could see the young man contorted and bleeding on the street while he tried to impress upon the 911 operator that an ambulance was needed immediately. "I gave her the location and told her what had happened but I had to repeat my request three times to send an ambulance. I looked at the man and it was clear he was in a really bad way." When I informed the neighbor that the young man had died of his injuries, the neighbor wondered about the time of his death. "I don't understand why he was taken to SF General Hospital when St. Mary's is just a few minutes away. In cases like that it seems like every minute is critical."
Clearly shaken by the experience, the local resident said he had been unable to talk about it during the day. At 5:15 this afternoon he telephoned me to describe the crash because he knew of my neighborhood involvement. After our call, I visited the site of the collision. Three network news reporters were on location for the evening news broadcasts. CBS Channel 5 reporter Don Knapp focused in his report on the many complaints from neighbors about drivers speeding on the street, the collisions that occur regularly, and the need to slow traffic.
As previously reported in BIKE NOPA, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) held a second community meeting last week to discuss options for traffic calming on the corridor. At that meeting several neighbors emphasized that slowing traffic, especially during off-peak hours, was vital to making Masonic a safer, more livable street. The grassroots organization Fix Masonic has worked with neighbors during the last several years to slow Masonic traffic. The group circulated a petition advocating that goal, and 600 nearby residents signed it.
Neighbors are urged to contact Javad Mirabdal (firstname.lastname@example.org) the MTA Masonic project manager, and Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi (email@example.com) to urge the city to adopt as many traffic design changes as needed to make Masonic safer for all road users.
The NOPA neighbor who described last night's tragic event added a cautionary note for bicyclists. "I really wish bicyclists would avoid that spot of Masonic in the southbound lane, especially on a Friday night when people are drinking and driving."