While the rest of San Francisco is out riding around in this beautiful sunny weather, I'm sick at home with the flu. So what do I do? I'm spending time watching other people bike around on the interwebz! I'm particularly inspired by this video from People for Bikes Green Lane Project about the rise of protected bike lanes in North America, and I think you will be too. new protected bike lane goes up on Polk Street in my own city of San Francisco, I am grateful for the fact that this trend is happening in other cities across the U.S. like Memphis and Chicago. There's light at the end of the sharrow!
Over a month ago a cyclist was killed after being struck by a car at Folsom and 13th/Erie. It wasn’t reported in the media and went virtually unnoticed until recently. After some digging around, we now know the name and age of the victim, 55 year old Harold Swaggard. Little else is known about the fatal collision, except that he may have been riding on the wrong side of the road.
On Sunday April 20, SFGate published an article titled “Keep an Eye Out When on Foot in SF”, urging pedestrians and cyclists, (and motorists), to be aware when using the roads in our city, in light of 7 pedestrian and 1 bicycling fatalities on record so far in 2014. The author cited 21 pedestrian and 4 cycling deaths last year.
I keep track of bicycling deaths in San Francisco. It’s part of my job as co-organizer for the San Francisco Ride of Silence, an annual bike ride to honor those that have lost their lives while riding on our streets. Until reading Sunday’s article, however, I hadn’t heard someone had died biking in San Francisco this year.
How could this be? I wondered, as I followed up with Heather Knight, the author of the article. She confirmed that according to SFPD Commander Mikail Ali, indeed a male bicyclist was hit by a car and killed at Folsom and 13th Streets on March 19th.
I wasn’t the only one who found the previously unreported death intriguing and confusing. Patrick Traughber started a Twitter dialogue with Ms. Knight, and three days later a name was released. Traughber further reported on his blog, Improving our cities, that March 19th, 2014 A 55-year-old a man on a bicycle "was struck by a vehicle near Folsom and Erie Street around 11:30am. Harold died 5 days later on March 24th. The circumstances of the collision are unclear, but Mr. Swaggard was found to be at fault for his death.”
According to the SF Bike Coalition, there is no real time public record of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities on our streets and although the SFPD in the last year has begun to take a data driven approach to traffic enforcement, historically that hasn’t been the case. SFBC, as a key player in the making of safer streets, does track cycling deaths and has records dating back to 1996. They also had just heard about the March 19th collision and subsequent death, and had no further information at the time.
Not all deaths get media attention, but those that occur on our public roadways should. Streets are spaces that affect all of us and that are essential to the functioning of our urban environment and our lives. The fact that someone died while using our streets, at the hands of another person, in public, and no one even heard about it, is both tragic and wrong.
It is unsettling to know that SFPD may not have a protocol for releasing information surrounding pedestrian and bike fatalities. It is disturbing that a man on a bike was hit by a car and killed, during daylight hours, in a busy part of the city, and no details were released. It is even more troubling to think about what kind of investigation may have occurred, if any, to conclude that Swaggard was at fault for his own death. I can only assume this was a traumatic event for the driver of the car as well, but what happened to that driver? Were there any consequences? Did he/she drive home after the collision?
If you want to honor Harold Swaggard, who was killed over a month ago, join us on May 21st at 6pm for the San Francisco Ride of Silence, and make a statement for safer, more accountable streets for all users. Meet at 5pm at Sports Basement Bryant Street for a mixer, leave at 6pm for 7 mile awareness and memorial ride, to honor the lives of the many cyclists we have lost, including the one that died March 24th, off the proverbial radar.
And tonight is the last night you can check out the film at Filmed By Bike at the Clinton Street Theater in Portland. Please come on out and meet us! We'll be there from 6 pm onwards with Spinster merchandise, including Meli's limited edition poster, Maneater shirts from Nooworks, and spoke cards. The Spinster screens at 8 pm. Come check out the film and VOTE FOR THE SPINSTER!
The Spinster official poster designed by Jessica Meek. I'm off to Portlandia tomorrow morning to attend Filmed By Bike film festival. My indie short horror film on bikes, The Spinster, will have its World Premiere in the City That Knows How to Bike. I couldn't have asked for a better premiere. When: World Premiere, Sunday 4/20 @ 5 pm Where: Clinton Street Theater Second screening on 4/22 at 8 pm If you're in P-town, grab some tickets and come root for The Spinster, and stick around for a Q&A avec moi, yours truly, Ms. Director. And come meet cast and crew, Gabriela Sosa (lead actress) and judy b. (co-producer and supporting actress). P-Town or BUST! It's red carpet time!
It's a great day to be a woman on a bike taking photos. I had to drop some equipment off at Rayko and inside the ladies' room, I was treated to a surprise photo on the wall. When I got outside, someone else had treated me to a surprise. Ride on.
I had the pleasure to meet with Mia and Molly of Momentum Mag on a gorgeous spring afternoon in San Francisco. Instead of a power-lunch, we had power-beers at my favorite neighborhood haunt, Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery. [Update: Mia had the Gruit, Molly had the IPA and I had the Ruby Mild.] Conversation meandered through pressing topics of our time, such as women in leadership roles, unifying bike sub-cultures, post-capitalist society and cute boys with beards from Portland. Twas a meeting of great bikey minds over some yummy locally-produced bevvies in the heart of one of San Francisco's great, historic neighborhoods. Onward and upward with smart women on bikes!
Getting ready for my first century on Saturday. So I took Seabiscuit out for a spin in Marin! The Spinster spoke card looks pretty sweet against the green grass of springtime! I used to ride this loop for fun and inspiration every day when I lived out in West Marin, before the world had even heard of Cycle Chic. I miss these pastoral views and the feeling of connecting with nature. I will be back very soon. I promise.