A Cautionary Tale

Background Reading


District Attorney George Gascón said he was “very pleased” with the judge’s ruling and called Bucchere’s conduct “really egregious.”
“His need for speed … led to the death of a person,” Gascón said.

Stop On Red Light Warning

Stop On Red Light Warning

Cyclists have managed to take the proverbial High Road and turn it into a quagmire. They have done so by offering the hope of a better and “safer” world for pedestrians and drivers alike in exchange for bicycle infrastructure. And then turned around and decided that where safety is concerned it takes a back seat to our “need for speed”.

We are thrilled by the “feats of daring-do” in movies like Premium Rush. But afraid to acknowledge the intrinsic danger in espousing such movies. We are a bit like the NRA in that we glorify the ownership and use of guns and applaud the use of them in so-called “action movies” but are quick to blame the young people for being obsesses with video games which amplify the cinematic experience.

Our secret pact with the “fixed gear” riders in our midst has been to never criticize them for their use of an inherently dangerous mode of travel in exchange for their cooperation in attempting to help lay the blame for all injuries sustained between cyclists and motor vehicles onto the shoulders of the motorists.

The folks who help to defend us in court when we do something stupid and are injured are openly dismissive of the doctrine of contributory factors as they apply to cyclists.

We trial lawyers love to talk about our successes, and we get lots of opportunities to do that. But we’re not just your lawyers, we’re your community. When one of us loses, we share the loss. So here’s a trial story that will tell you how much work we have left to do in North Carolina to protect people riding bicycles. If nothing else, it validates all my harping about how bad the law of contributory negligence is for any injured person.

— anngroninger

But fixed gear bikes are “killers” because they offer one thing we cyclists would be irate to have our motorist brethren emulate, a lack of braking that is sufficient to stop a moving vehicle under “panic stop” conditions. And that makes all the difference in the world when it comes to saving a life.

The bicyclist who struck and killed a pedestrian in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood last year must stand trial on felony vehicular manslaughter charges, a judge ruled Thursday.

Chris Bucchere cried softly during the final argument of his preliminary hearing when his attorney described him as a good person and a family man who gives back to his community.

Bucchere, a 36-year-old San Francisco resident, was riding his bicycle south on Castro Street during morning rush hour last March 29 when he collided with Sutchi Hui, 71, of San Francisco, who was crossing in the south crosswalk along Market Street with his wife. Hui died of his injuries four days later.

When Chris Bucchere came down a hill and plowed into the pedestrians crossing the sidewalk that fateful day his was an action of our own creation. We have supported hundreds if not thousands of riders like him over the years. We have glorified their Alley Cat races as manly and hip. The bikes that propel these speed demons through out cities are considered sleek and the objects of desire for so-called purists.

A good “fixie” bike is not only devoid of brakes but it should have no fenders, lights, reflectors, or even a useful handlebar. Most of the folks who ride these are doing so “ninja style“. They dress in dark clothing that is devoid of reflective qualities and armed only with a helmet whiz past slower riders along Milwaukee and other busy thoroughfares in Chicago stopping only if forced to by traffic conditions.

But in the main they avoid dealing with the speed robbing artifacts of road life (i.e. stop signs and traffic lights).

They Have Already Killed In Chicago

The San Francisco tragedy will put the spot light on excessive speed and if the defense attorney is skillful will deflect any and all mention of the rider’s brakeless bike as inconsequential. But we cyclists know that this is not true. We know that when a Hispanic youth dies by his own hand while trying to ride this brakeless bike configuration there are few who will mourn his death.

Our biggest strength as a community is also our greatest weakness. We love to take care of our own, regardless of their open defiance of “safety“. We have had at least one such tragic death here in Chicago when a fixed gear rider took his usual route into work on a brakeless bike and misjudged the position he should have taken with respect to the “Door Zone“. That one simple mistake meant that when an exiting passenger from a vehicle near a school drop off point startled him his evasive maneuvers cost him his life.

And what was our response? Did it force us to rally against the use of such bikes on streets? No it did not. We have spent far too much time cultivating the image of “the cyclist as victim” to turn back now. You can almost hear a crowd single “Ain’t gonna let nobody, turn me ’round, turn me ’round” as they lay a ghost bike alongside the section of the roadway where the rider was killed.

Because he had no brakes his only “panic stop” options meant avoiding the opening door. Doing that brought him into contact with a speed truck to his left and he was crushed to death. Our response was to create LOOK Chicago as a means of dealing with driver re-education to once again place as much of the blame for this death onto the shoulders of drivers and never onto the cyclists. We decided early on to create stickers and flyers if possible to pass out to warn drivers of their pending opportunities for negligence when exiting their vehicles. But nothing was made of the hatred contributory factors created when cyclists opt to ride without benefit of brakes.

We Will Not Learn Of That You Can Be Certain

Rolling Stops?

Rolling Stops?

It is not part of our self-styled persona as victims to allow ourselves to be cast as the villains. So we will not yield to anything approaching “common sense” on this issue opting instead to shout down those who would call us to repent. We know exactly how to do this sort of thing and can take partial credit for the tactics of groups like NRA when their wanton disregard for safety puts fellow citizens at risk of death in crowded public spaces. We have taught them to never admit culpability but rather to seize the Constitution as their protector.

Unfortunately we have no guaranteed rights under the Constitution to ride without benefit of brakes, but that will not stop us from continuing to do so. We will secretly applaud the release of the next variation on Premium Rush and snicker at the next suburbanite who challenges our right to hold Alley Cat Races on Sundays.

And we will never mention the name Steven Lane for fear that “the haters” will use his tragic death to their own ends. But in truth the haters are not those who criticize the brakeless fixie practice but instead the duplicitous liars who preach “safety” and “protected bicycle lanes” in a single breath while offering aid and comfort to those who risk not only their lives but ours as well.