cyclist charged with manslaughter

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melange396
Participant
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http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/06/13/MNQ01P1M55.DTL

they say he was going through a yellow when it happened… which means that the pedestrians were in the intersection when they shouldnt have been. would they have stepped out if it was a car barreling down the road instead of a bike? in my experience, peds (and cars!) often seem to misjudge the speed of bicycles and enter our paths necessitating lightning-fast reactions to avoid collisions.

but i suppose it all comes down to the fact that he was speeding and couldnt stop in time, which puts him at fault


Pierce
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If the article is true, eh, I don’t know what vehicular manslaughter entails, but I’m not totally opposed to it

a) speeding where there’s a bunch of pedestrians

b) response to obstruction in path of vehicle is to say “can’t stop now!”

Two poor judgments contributing to somebodies death. Maybe prohibit the guy from operating any vehicle on the road for a while; probation, hook his bike up to a GPS, rescind right to operate vehicle if he’s caught speeding

Enforce these statues for motor vehicle drivers

In my hometown some old lay got mowed down by a kid on a bike and their response was to ban bikes on the sidewalks, but not do anything to improve infrastructure on the road


jonawebb
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Is this the guy who was discussing the accident on the Internet and had recorded his speed at 35 mph or so using a GPS device?


Steven
Participant
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Yup, that’s the guy.

b) response to obstruction in path of vehicle is to say “can’t stop now!”

Here’s the quote:

The light turned yellow as I was approaching the intersection, but I was already way too committed to stop. The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions…I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.

I remember seeing a RIVER of blood on the asphalt, but it wasn’t mine. I really hope he ends up OK.

I don’t think his first sentence is a confession to anything. There’s nothing wrong, necessarily, with going through a yellow light because you’re going too fast to stop for it (as long as you’re under the speed limit, don’t hit anything, yield the right of way to any pedestrians in the crosswalk, etc).

His claim that he “laid it down” seems to conflict with the video evidence that he made little or no attempt to stop. So his trial will need to sort that out.

Vehicular manslaughter seems like an appropriate charge.


Pierce
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The physics seem hard to believe that he was going 35mph, was in a the middle of an intersection and then it “instantly” filled up. Like how fast was this old lady going to get in his way?

It sounds more probable that the old lady starting walking before he was in the intersection, along with other people.

I agree that there is nothing wrong with going through a yellow, but it seems to me that a comparison would be going through yellows at 35mph on Penn Ave through the Strip on Saturday mornings

I took “laid it down” to mean he was speeding up, getting in a more aerodynamic position


cburch
Participant
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“laid it down” could just as easily mean he “laid [the power] down” and sped up.


jonawebb
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Edit: delete duplicate comment.


Ken Kaminski
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I pretty much don’t trust brakes or any other method of stopping a bicycle. Huge mistake to ride that fast in a crowded area.


Steven
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I assumed “laid it down” meant he laid the bike down to let road rash slow him, so thanks for the alternative interpretations. Now I’m not sure what he meant.

In CA, pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right of way, even if they’re crossing against the Walk signal. Vehicles are required to slow down and yield to them. So whether the crowd started to cross early may not be so relevant to his defense.

(And just for the record, victim Sutchi Hui was male.)


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
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@ steven – “In CA, pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right of way,”

…in Pennsylvania as well.


jonawebb
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@ALMKLM — but in California they take it seriously. I remember stepping into a crosswalk there, having cars stop IN BOTH DIRECTIONS, and wondering what’s going on — until I realized my foot was in the crosswalk. That would never happen in PA.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
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@jonawebb: agreed.


Steven
Participant
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I’m not convinced pedestrians crossing at a Don’t Walk have the right of way in PA as they do in CA.

PA law:

3113. Pedestrian-control signals.

(a) General rule.–Whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibiting words or symbols are in place, the signals shall indicate as follows:

(1) Word “Walk” or walking person symbol.–Pedestrians facing the signal should proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.

(2) Phrase “Don’t Walk” or upraised hand symbol.–Pedestrians should not start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the “Walk” signal should proceed to a sidewalk or safety zone while the “Don’t Walk” signal is showing.

(3) Flashing “Walk”.–Pedestrians facing the signal are cautioned that there is possible hazard from turning vehicles, but pedestrians may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.

(4) Flashing “Don’t Walk” Signal.–Pedestrians should not start to cross the roadway in the direction of the signal, but any pedestrian who has partly completed crossing during the “Walk” signal should proceed to a sidewalk or safety zone, and all drivers of vehicles shall yield to the pedestrian.

3542. Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks.

(a) General rule.–When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

CA law:

Right-of-Way at Crosswalks

21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

(b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.

(d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

So PA says pedestrians have the right of way at a signaled intersection when they have a Walk signal, while CA doesn’t have that limitation, as far as I can tell. (21950(b) restricts what pedestrians can do in various ways, but doesn’t restrict their right of way.)


jonawebb
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I was at a crosswalk in the middle of the street, like say on Shady at Douglas. Try stepping into that and see how many cars stop.

@Pierce, I think in CA they enforce the law, which also works.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
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Sorry, I was thinking of crosswalks, not signalled walks in PA. It may be a different circumstance in a signalled walk. I had done some research for a local ordinance a few years ago, and my recollection was the PA law at that time for crosswalks protected the pedestrian. I may be mistaken.


Pierce
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I think if there’s somebody crossing the street, you have an obligation to stop regardless of who has the right of way

If you’re a smart motorist, you’d recognize the streets are packed and people or cars may inadvertently jump out in front of you

@jonawebb

I think that’s a culture thing. I have the same problem whenever I’m trying to cross Penn Ave around Spak bros. If the aggregate of pedestrians were more assertive, and the drivers more willing to properly yield, that could change


Steven
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@atleastmykidsloveme: I think you’re right regarding unsignaled crosswalks (whether marked or unmarked). Pedestrians have ROW in both states (perhaps in every state). The difference is only with signaled crosswalks.


edmonds59
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When I’m biking or driving I slow down and stop for pedestrians whether in crosswalks or not, walking jay or otherwise. That way I can be almost assured that I won’t slaughter anyone man or woman.


Ken Kaminski
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I’ve said this before, but I give pedestrians carte blanche. I think it’s arrogant to expect individuals to clear the way because I’m able to go faster than them.


mr marvelous
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@ Ken that sounds like what drivers yell at me everyday


ejwme
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for some reason discussions like this always make me think of boats – the smaller boat has to yield, or so television has led me to believe. ’cause of maneuverability, and inertia and momentum and other physic-y type stuff. Then I wonder about planes, and air traffic control, and whether that’s similar, or more akin to “automated” vehicles we’d discussed elsewhere.

The laws of the (terrestrial) road don’t make as much sense to me – either the way they’re written or the way they’re enforced. I’m not sure what physics based (terrestrial) traffic law would really look like or how it would be implemented, but I know we don’t have it.


salty
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There are different categories of aircraft and generally the least maneuverable craft has the right of way. Otherwise, like boats, give way to the right.

Anyways, pedestrians have the right of way in a lot of situations, but by failing to assert their rights they have been generally eroded over time. I think there is some quote about that in “bicycling and the law”. I try to assert my right of way as a pedestrian whenever I can safely do so, and I yield to pedestrians regardless of what vehicle I’m using. I wish more people would do both.

As far as the original topic, it certainly sounds like the cyclist’s fault. It was definitely poor judgement on his part and he deserves to face some consequences. If only people would take cars running down pedestrians so seriously maybe we’d be getting somewhere.


mr marvelous
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+1 @salty


melange396
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imnsho the right-of-way yielding hierarchy should be:

pedestrians > bicycles > busses > cars > trucks


edmonds59
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I think it’s a bit pushing it to say that pedestrian rights have been eroded because pedestrians have failed to hold to their rights of way. If more peds held firm to their r’s.o.w., there would just be a lot more dead peds. Unfortunately most people aren’t willing to die to prevent the erosion of pedestrian rights.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
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Can’t complain about pedestrian rights in Pittsburgh. it is a jaywalkers paradise. Spend some time in Los Angeles. They write tickets for jaywalking.


jonawebb
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@salty I think if a driver killed a pedestrian, drove away, posted about it admitting fault, and had a GPS on his car giving his position and speed at the time of the accident uploaded to a public web site he would get prosecuted.


Anonymous #

ajbooth
Participant
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I am not defending the cyclist in this case.

A key part of the CA law, which seems like it should be common sense, states “This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.” Today, on my drive into work (for the first non-bike commute since last Tuesday) I almost hit two pedestrians. One was a jogger, running against traffic, in the middle of the lane, into a blind curve. With a wide sidewalk on the other side of the street sitting empty. The second was on Grant Street, at the pedestrian light in front of USX Tower. A bus was stopped in the right lane, and I had the green light. The only thing that kept me from hitting the woman who crossed against the light was the fact that the cyclist in me made me anticipate her action, even though I could not see around the bus. I slowed to an almost complete stop before the crosswalk, and she walked in front of my car and stared me down.


HiddenVariable
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pedestrians who assert their rights usually end up with their rights splattered all over the pavement and some oblivious jagoff’s car.

without having seen anything or knowing much of the details, it does seem that the cyclist here was irresponsible and at some fault for something. for what, i refuse to speculate. it is important to note, though, as ajbooth does, that while pedestrians have the right of way in most situations (and should in all), that does not mean they can go hopping into traffic all willy-nilly, and if they get hit it’s someone else’s fault. it doesn’t sound like that happened in this situation, but it’s something to keep in mind.


salty
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@edmonds – well, I’m certainly not willing to die for pedestrian (or cyclist) rights, but if there’s an opportunity to safely assert my right of way I’m going to take it. Of course ignorant/selfish/dangerous driver behavior is the root of the problem, but failing to exercise your rights is effectively giving them up, and eventually they’ll be taken away.

Jaywalking is a great example – a concept invented by car companies and auto clubs, and the start of giving up control of the streets to the cars.

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/04/invention-jaywalking/1837/

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/transport/2009/11/in_defense_of_jaywalking.html

@AtLeastMyCarsLoveMe – since some pedestrians cross the street illegally they don’t deserve any rights?


edmonds59
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“…but if there’s an opportunity to safely assert my right of way I’m going to take it.”

Having said what I did previously, I have smacked a fender or 2 in my day. Like counting coup.


Mick
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@jonawebb Can’t complain about pedestrian rights in Pittsburgh. it is a jaywalkers paradise

The situation in Pittsburgh: legal crossing are hazardous due to driving scofflaws, so people cross illegally.

That makes it a pedestrian’s rights issue to me.

They occasionally give tickets to jaywalkers. I’ve never seen a ticket given for violating crosswalks in Pittsburgh.

California, they have wonderful pedestrian’s rights – and they do ticket jaywalkers. Cool.


melange396
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> Jaywalking is a great example – a concept invented by car companies and auto clubs, and the start of giving up control of the streets to the cars.

will the lobbying for true public interest ever compare to that of corporations?


jonawebb
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@melange, don’t forget that corporations are people. More powerful people, with lots of money, and no accountability, but people nonetheless.


salty
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@ALMKLM – I apologize for that comment, it was out of line and certainly not in the spirit of the “be constructive” rule of this board. I get a little frustrated with the state of the world and sometimes take it out on people who don’t deserve it.


salty
Participant
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BTW, I’m certainly not advocating stepping out in front of moving cars to assert your rights. You can step off the curb and make it clear you intend to cross, trying to induce the driver to stop, without putting yourself in danger.


brian j
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You can step off the curb and make it clear you intend to cross

I think I’ve posted this before, but in Salt Lake City, many crosswalks have little bins of orange flags on each end–people can grab a flag and make themselves more visible.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
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@salty: no worries. I actually think we’re not too far-off on this. I’m a pedaconfrontationalist myself.


HiddenVariable
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I think I’ve posted this before, but in Salt Lake City, many crosswalks have little bins of orange flags on each end–people can grab a flag and make themselves more visible.

i probably mentioned this in the same thread, but a similar thing exists for beach-side highways, erm, roads in florida. they seemed to work better than i expected, and people take them seriously enough that they expect violators of the don’t-cross-when-there’s-a-flag-waver rule to feel shame.

i have also considered the utility and cost of ninja-adding something similar at various crosswalks around here.

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