A woman was struck and killed in a traffic collision while bicycling at Sixth and Howard streets Friday morning at about 8:15 a.m.
The San Francisco Police department said the woman, who has been identified by the Medical Examiner’s Office as 30-year-old Tess Rothstein, of Berkeley, was riding a rented Ford GoBike ebike when she was struck by a white commercial truck.
Binod Singh, who was walking nearby when the incident occurred, told the San Francisco Examiner he saw the woman bicycling down Howard when the driver-side door of a parked car opened near her. She swerved to dodge the door, placing her directly in the path of a large white truck, which ran over the woman and crushed her.
“Everyone screamed,” he said.
Singh was shaking as he showed the Examiner cell phone photos he took immediately after the crash.
Maximo Figueroa works in the neighborhood and was sitting in his parked car when he saw the collision. He ran over to help, but when he saw her, he realized it was too late.
“It happened within a second, then boom, then over,” Figueroa said.
The woman was wearing a helmet, which was destroyed in the crash.
The white truck remained at the scene this morning on Howard Street, in an area where there are no “protected” bike lanes with barriers.
At the scene of the collision, Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the South of Market neighborhood, said the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency should build more protected bike lanes along Howard Street.
SFMTA installed protected bike lanes late last year between Sixth and 11th Streets, but the block of Howard Street where the incident occurred, between Fifth and Sixth streets, has only an unprotected lane, forcing people on bicycles to ride directly adjacent to traffic.
“If she would have made it another 50 yards, she likely would have been safe,” Haney said. “Literally right there, that’s safe, this isn’t,” he said, pointing to the protected bike lane that starts at the other side of the intersection at Sixth Street.
“This is a street where people have been demanding a protected bike lane for a long time because they knew that it would save lives,” Haney said. “I don’t think you have to be an expert on this stuff to see that the way this area is setup is not safe for people on bikes. It’s tragic that it leads to people losing their lives. We should do better.”
The advocacy group People Protected Bike Lanes announced on Twitter they would be joining hands on Howard and Fifth streets between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. to create a human barrier between the bike lane and vehicle traffic.
Tonight, for the 3rd time @PeopleProtected will be joining hands on Howard. Hopefully for our last time. Our community is shook by today’s preventable death. ALL of Howard needs Protected Lanes Now! Out of respect, we will be protecting the lane at 5th and Howard. 5-6pm pls RT pic.twitter.com/aD49godvXU
— People Protected (@PeopleProtected) March 8, 2019
In a written statement, Mayor London Breed said long-term safety improvements are coming to Howard Street.
“But while we wait for these capital improvements, we need to make short-term safety enhancements, which I have instructed the SFMTA to do without delay,” she wrote.
“Safety is our top priority and we stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation,” said Lauren Alexander, a spokesperson for Lyft, which owns Ford GoBike. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic incident, and our thoughts are with everyone impacted.”
The incident took place just one block away from the high-profile death of Kate Slattery, who was struck by a hit-and-run driver at Seventh and Howard streets in 2016.
Slattery’s death coincided with the death of another cyclist that same day, which prompted the late Mayor Ed Lee to issue one of his very few executive directives to departments, in this case to increase safety for those riding bicycles.