I-Team gets street view from cyclists

The I-Team investigated just how dangerous the San Francisco streets are for cyclists and the most dangerous moments on the road.
November 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
We're getting a new, inside look at what is a life and death struggle on the streets of San Francisco between cars and bicycles. The city estimates there are 75,000 bike trips on any given day. So, the I-Team's Dan Noyes took a closer look at just what cyclists are seeing and how dangerous the streets can be.

It's become so scary, that many cyclists say they are arming themselves with cameras to document their close-encounters. We went through hundreds of videos of bikes on Bay Area streets to show you what might just be the most dangerous moment on the road.

Ask any bicyclist and they'll tell you there's no place better than the Bay Area to ride a bike. But it can be dangerous and it's not always the fault of the cyclists. Often those crashes are being caught on tape.

Cyclists like Tony Albert routinely mount cameras to their bikes. He records and posts it all on YouTube, from cyclists who blow through lights, to bad drivers who turn without signaling or looking, and cars that fly by way too close.

Many drivers don't even realize they are doing anything wrong. But drivers aren't always the ones getting in the way. The I-Team analyzed data from the California Highway Patrol and found that cyclists and drivers are equally responsible for accidents in the Bay Area. But cyclists are getting hurt in nine out of 10 accidents.

We took our cameras to the streets to see what is going on. Time after time, we saw riders running stop signs and lights, cruising along traffic, wearing no helmets and weaving in and out of cars.

According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 677 cyclists were killed around the country in 2011. That accounts for roughly 2 percent of the all traffic fatalities nationwide.

In San Francisco alone, four cyclists have died so far this year. But the city is expanding the number of bike lanes from 54 to 79 miles. That has many drivers feeling like they are being pinched off the roadway.

Taxi driver Rizwan Khan told us, "There's too many already and if they want to put more, they should put it on less busy streets."

Driver Don Marks added, "I'd like to see them put that money to maybe smoothing the road out, versus putting more bike lanes."

Jessie Jewitt knows well how dangerous the roads can be for cyclists. She talked to me earlier this year after her daughter Amelie LeMoullac was hit by a truck and killed in the bike lane on Folsom Street at 6th.

Jewitt said, "My heart was ripped out of me. It was lying on that cement under that truck with her."

The I-Team surveillance video of the moment a truck hit her. That video will play a crucial role in a wrongful death suit filed by the family against the company that owns that truck. The truck was making a right turn.

"These dangerous turns are then number one cause of collision," said Leah Shahum, executive director of the 12,000 member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. She says drivers frequently fail to signal and get over to the right before they turn.

We found plenty of videos on YouTube showing drivers doing just that.

In one video, a cyclist in the East Bay was nearly hit when this driver cut across three lanes to get to a drive thru.

Caught in between the cars and bikes, are pedestrians.

Cyclist Chris Bucchere was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after hitting 71- year-old Sutchi Hui.

District attorney George Gascon said the case should be a warning to cyclists who break the law.

"Regardless of whether you're riding a bike, you're driving a vehicle or walking, we all have shared responsibly in providing safety in our community," said Gascon at a recent press conference.

That is a sentiment echoed by Shahum who told us, "We really ask that everyone -- whether they're driving, biking, walking -- share the road, look out for each other and really move around our streets politely and courteously."

After those right turns, the second most dangerous way of being injured is called "dooring". That's when a driver opens a car door into the path of a rider.

We want to hear about your experience on the roads. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter, use hashtag #bikevscar.

Written and produced by Ken Miguel


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