SF supervisors approve $9M settlement for cyclist injured from bad road repair; 4 others suing

Dan Noyes Image
Wednesday, February 28, 2024
SF to pay $9M settlement to cyclist hurt from bad road repair
San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday approved a $9 million settlement for a cyclist who was injured when he hit a bump left after a road repair.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a $9 million settlement for a cyclist seriously injured when he hit a bump left after a road repair. The I-Team's Dan Noyes reports the city also faces a lawsuit brought by several others injured on that same bump. It's an ordeal that could have been avoided.

The Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park had just wrapped up on a Sunday night in August 2022, when a project manager for robotaxi firm Cruise, Mason Masuda, headed home on a bike. He got to this section of Clay - designated a Slow Street for cyclists and pedestrians, but hit this unmarked bump left by a road crew and crashed, his head hitting the pavement. His lawsuit says Masuda suffered "life-altering permanent injuries."

And on Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a $9 million settlement.

This really should not have happened. I'm not just talking about the workers failing to mark the street or put up pylons where the hazard was. The city had several warnings that people on scooters and bikes were getting hurt here, but failed to take action for days.

EXCLUSIVE: Struggling to get street hazards fixed? Here's what we know about the city-wide backlog

A broken sidewalk in Chinatown has shed light on a backlog of street-related issues across San Francisco that have yet to be dealt with.

Neighbor Medum Choe told the I-Team, "I remember looking out the window and seeing ambulances in the middle of the night parked out and had no clue what was going on outside."

Choe saw the unmarked bump left by a city crew repairing a leaking water pipe, and he saw people crashing on scooters and bikes at all hours of the day. Several neighbors dialed 311 to get the bump fixed, or at least marked with warning signs.

"They had called 311," Choe said. "Multiple times that week to alert the city of the bump and the fact that it was unmarked, and nothing was occurring."

Four more people injured in crashes at that bump have also filed a lawsuit, and it gives us a timeline:

  • August 1, 2022 - The Water Department repaired a leak under the pavement and left that long, temporary patch
  • August 3 - At least four neighbors call 311 to report -- people on scooters and bikes are crashing there. That same day, woman on a scooter suffered "significant injuries... including lacerations and injury to her knee and shoulder"
  • August 5 - man on a bike hits the bump, winds up with a "broken elbow, requiring surgery"
  • August 6 - Another broken elbow for a cyclist
  • MORE: San Francisco water main break causes massive sinkhole, costly damage

    That same day, Ralph Bower suffered a broken collarbone and ribs, requiring surgery, while wrapping up a 100-mile ride. He had just qualified for the World Ironman Championship in Hawaii that year.

    Bower said, "And all of a sudden, the next thing I knew I woke up. I woke up in the middle of the street."

    It took until August 11 for a city crew to permanently repave the area -- a lapse that caused permanent damage in several people's lives.

    "It's unlikely that I'm going to get back to the point that I was before the accident," Bower said. "But if I can just get back to the point where I can enjoy the things recreationally that I used to enjoy like swimming and biking, and running. And playing with my granddaughter, I'll consider that a success."

    MORE: Less than 4% of Bay Area Caltrans pothole, other damage claims approved in recent years: data

    Bower and those other three victims are also suing San Francisco. City Attorney David Chiu's office emailed a statement, "We have been engaged in negotiations to reach a fair resolution to these matters... Given ongoing negotiations, we have no comment on the other lawsuits."

    Andrea Posey of Coopers LLP is representing the four injured plaintiffs, and sent a statement to the I-Team:

    "The bump that is the focus of the lawsuit was a roadway trap - unapparent and unexpected. A public records request to the CCSF revealed an alarming pattern of knowledge and inaction by the CCSF until the roadway was repaired and repaved more than ten days later. Not only are bicycling and scootering reasonably foreseeable uses of the roadway in question, they are also uses expressly contemplated and encouraged by CCSF in its designation of Clay Street as a Slow Street. The large bump in the roadway posed a risk of injury to bicyclists and scooterists including our clients and others. And many were seriously injured as a result. We believe these crashes could, and should, have been avoided."

    Take a look at more stories by the ABC7 News I-Team.

    Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

    If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live