A cyclist bikes down Second St. before Mission St. next to the unpainted bike lane on Wednesday, March 20, 2019. (Ellie Doyen/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF settles with cyclist struck by police car in SoMa bike lane

San Francisco has settled a lawsuit with a man who was struck by a police car while riding a bicycle in a South of Market bike lane.

The Police Commission was scheduled to vote in closed session Wednesday evening on whether to approve the settlement with bicyclist Timothy Doyle for an undisclosed amount of money.

Doyle was in a painted bike lane on Second Street near Mission Street on May 12, 2016 when Officer Jared Harris suddenly pulled his marked police cruiser in front of him from the right turn lane.

The bike lane did not have a physical barrier.

A dashcam video from a nearby vehicle shows that Doyle slammed into the front side of the police car. The impact knocked Doyle off his bicycle and onto the ground. The video also appeared to show that Harris did have his right-turn blinker on just seconds before veering left in front of Doyle.

Doyle filed a personal injury and property damage lawsuit against Harris and the City and County of San Francisco in December 2016. The lawsuit sought unspecified damages and alleged that Harris acted negligently and made an unsafe lane change in violation of the state Vehicle Code.

Doyle said he suffered severe injuries including fractured ribs and a fractured sacrum and had medical expenses related to the collision of nearly $28,000, according to court documents.

Doyle and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

Court records show the parties reached a settlement Jan. 15.

“Whenever The City may be responsible for an accidental injury, we do everything we can to work in good faith to reach a fair resolution,” said Andrea Guzman, a spokesperson for the City Attorney’s Office. “We are grateful we were able to do that in this case and avoid further litigation.”

Guzman said that the settlement amount is not yet public.

“It is always troubling when anyone is injured on our roads, particularly more vulnerable users, like people on bikes,” Guzman said. “San Francisco is actively working to make our roads safer for everyone.”

The collision prompted calls for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to make bicycle safety changes along Second Street.

Under a project approved before the collision, construction is currently underway to install a protected bike lane on Second Street between Market and Townsend streets, according to SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose.

Matt Brezina, who organizes protests where people act as a protective barrier between bicycles and cars, said workers have installed a raised bike lane to separate bicyclists from cars on Second Street before Mission Street, but that’s not enough.

“It’s scary,” Brezina said. “Second is a mess.”

Brezina said cars often park over the raised lane. He called for the installation of safety posts to physically separate cars and bicycles.

Brezina said Doyle was struck right before the intersection in a dangerous part of the road called a “mixing zone,” where cars often cross over bike lanes to turn.

Brezina called for the installation of a protection intersection that would extend to the mixing zone. Protected intersections generally feature small concrete islands that separate cars from bicycles along street corners.

“Bikes should not mix with cars on high-volume streets like Second Street,” Brezina said.

The settlement comes amid a larger push by advocates as well as Mayor London Breed and Supervisor Matt Haney to install protected bike lanes elsewhere in South of Market in response to the death of Tess Rothstein.

Rothstein, 30, was struck and killed while riding a bicycle on Howard Street near Sixth Street after witnesses said she swerved from a painted bike into the path of a truck to avoid a door that opened in front of her.

On Tuesday, a transit official said the SFMTA would draft plans to install protected bike lanes on Howard Street from Third Street to the waterfront. The agency previously committed to installing the protected lanes on Howard Street between Third and Sixth streets within the next month.

After the Police Commission, the settlement requires further approval from the Board of Supervisors and Mayor London Breed.

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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