The San Francisco bicyclist involved in a fatal collision with a San Bruno man could face criminal charges, and his flippant early account of the tragedy may not help his case in a city where bikes, cars and pedestrians must increasingly coexist.
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Chris Bucchere collided in a Castro crosswalk March 29 with 71-year-old Sutchi Hui, who ultimately died Wednesday at San Francisco General Hospital.
In an online missive posted just hours after the crash, Bucchere expressed little remorse for his behavior. His irreverent account focused instead on his broken helmet, his own relatively minor injuries and the police seizure of his bike.
“It was commuter hour and it was crowded as all getup,” Bucchere wrote. “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.”
Bucchere did express hope that Hui “ends up OK,” but he spent far more energy praising his own headgear.
“May she die knowing that because she committed the ultimate sacrifice, her rider can live on and ride on,” Bucchere wrote of his helmet. “Can I get an amen?”
The moral of the story, he offered, is to always wear a helmet — not to slow down or ride defensively in busy intersections.
Bucchere’s screed, posted March 29 on the “Mission Cyclist” website’s forum, has since been deleted. Out of about 450 words, he dedicated only 20 to concern for the then-hospitalized Hui. Bucchere’s LinkedIn and Twitter pages also have been taken offline. Other members of the forum called the post shocking and arrogant.
If the DA files charges against him, Bucchere would become the second local bicyclist within a year to face criminal charges for a pedestrian collision. Randolph Ang, 23, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter late last month in connection with a July collision. He was sentenced to three years of probation, 500 hours of community service and was ordered to pay more than $15,000 to the crash victim’s family.
Bert Hill, chairman of the San Francisco Bike Advisory Committee, said as bicycling becomes more widespread in dense urban settings, advocacy groups and police must create new standards to regulate riders who flaunt traffic laws. He said while most cyclists respect laws, something needs to change.
“The group is very accepting of some very bad behaviors,” Hill said. “We’ve long had a culture of the cyclist as an outlaw. But if you get down to it, the 27-year-old male is going to drive a car the same way they ride the bicycle.”
Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of the Walk San Francisco pedestrian advocacy group, said as The City’s transit trends shift, safety standards need to follow suit.
“Different people are operating by different sets of rules,” Stampe said. “We need to address that and we need to keep redesigning streets so they’re not meant for fast speeds.”
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is responding to the tragedy by distributing road safety literature today on Market Street. Executive Director Leah Shahum said the group is “deeply troubled” by Bucchere’s account.
“As advocates working for safer streets, we condemn reckless behavior — whether on a bicycle or in a car,” Shahum said. “Those who put others in danger should be held accountable for their actions.”