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Motorist Tailgates, Menaces and Hits Cyclist on McAllister

Last week, a cyclist riding down McAllister was tailgated, menaced, and ultimately struck by the driver of the Lexus seen in the lead photo. This is according to a post by George Francis on Facebook's San Francisco Bike Ride Crew.

Francis was riding a few feet behind the incident and captured it on camera. You can watch the 20-second video here.

Watching the video, SBSF feels no obligation to call this an "alleged" crime--it's just a question of which crimes/how many were committed by the driver. In fact, it looks a whole lot like the motorist intentionally bumped the cyclist (and thankfully at least had enough control of their road rage not to floor the gas pedal as they did it). Either way, the victim, whose name is not yet known to Streetsblog, is lucky to be in one piece.

"There is definitely the crime of hit and run," wrote Andy Gillen, an attorney and specialist in traffic laws, after watching the video. "As to whether it’s an assault with a deadly weapon, a court would have to determine the driver did this on purpose or as a result of negligence."

Streetsblog has reached out to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Supervisor Vallie Brown, who represents the district, and Mayor London Breed's office. SFBC's Brian Wiedenmeier and Supervisor Brown replied that they have assigned staff to look into the incident. Streetsblog has also reached out to Francis and will update accordingly.

From the Facebook post on the San Francisco Bike Ride Crew page
From the Facebook post on the San Francisco Bike Ride Crew page

As seen from the above exchange, Francis and the victim (who was apparently riding an electric pedal-assist bike) tried to file a police report, but were turned away. Streetsblog reached out to SFPD media affairs; they have no information on the incident. However, "Based on the 20 second video the car appears to be driving too close to the bicycle, which is tailgating. Depending on what the driver was trying to do, this can also be seen as an assault," wrote Robert Rueca, a spokesperson for the police, in an email to Streetsblog.

Streetsblog pointed out that it's also a hit and run.

"I did not clearly see contact. Without knowing what the witnesses and victim experienced we would just be speculating," replied Rueca.

Streetsblog readers can watch the video again and "speculate" for themselves.

A still from the video of a motorist intentionally ramming a cyclist on McAllister... the number on the dealer plate is clearly visible
A still from the video of a motorist tailgating and crashing into a cyclist on McAllister... the number on the dealer plate is clearly visible

Streetsblog has written at length about the SFPD's tendency to victim-blame cyclists and exonerate motorists, no matter where the evidence actually points. The real danger in this case is if the motorist is not pursued, it seems likely he or she will one day seriously harm or kill a vulnerable road user. As Streetsblog has pointed out before, a Mother-Theresa-of-a-motorist doesn't wake up one day and go run down a cyclist--they almost always have a history of endangering people.

Either way, the police have an obligation to take a report and investigate, not blow off the complaint (which seems to be what they did, if Francis's Facebook comment is accurate). "The fact that it is a dealer plate doesn’t mean that the owner can’t be identified. The owner can be identified in that if the police run the plate it will come back either as the dealership that owns it or the person at the dealership who owns it," wrote Gillen. "If it’s the former, the police can then find out from the dealership who was driving it at that time and place."

For now, if anyone knows Francis or the victim please stress the importance of saving evidence, including damage to the bike, clothing, accessories etc. Take pictures of any injuries. And please email Streetsblog or post below if you have any more information.

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