The fact that aggressive driving is a danger to pedestrians should come as no surprise to anyone reading this blog. But a recent criminal case out of San Francisco, California brings an uncommon twist to this otherwise all too familiar fact patterns. The aggressive “driver” in this case is a bicyclist.
In California, New Jersey and many other states, bicycles are treated as a vehicle for purposes of the laws applicable to our roadways, and must abide by the same traffic rules as motor vehicles. This includes the obligation to abide by traffic signals and yield the right of way to pedestrians. The cyclist in this case, Chris Bucchere, stands accused of felony vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of 71 year-old Sutchi Hui, a pedestrian who was killed when Bucchere collided with him in a crosswalk.
Witnesses reported that Bucchere had blown through several red lights on his way down the steep hill approaching the busy intersection of Market & Castro Street, and that he was “going incredibly fast”. One witness, Nathan Pollak, is quoted as saying that his “jaw dropped” when he watched Bucchere “crouch down to accelerate” through the intersection and plow into the crosswalk just as the “walk” signal activated.
While arguments were made by Bucchere’s attorney that Mr. Sutchi Hui and other pedestrians had entered the crosswalk before the walk signal illuminated, allegedly hindering Bucchere’s ability to avoid him, the facts reported in the media paint a fairly striking picture of a cyclist who was unfortunately flouting the most basic rules of the road which exist to provide structure, predictability and safety to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.