A collision at Sixth and Howard streets killed a cyclist Friday morning, during the rush hour commute. SFPD confirmed the incident over the phone with SF Weekly this morning, stating that the collision occurred around 8:15 a.m. This is the first fatality of a person riding a bike in San Francisco so far in 2019, although a large number of people were critically injured or killed by drivers in the past two weeks.
A video of the aftermath posted on Citizen shows a large white box truck, which appeared to have been heading west along Howard Street.
The gender, age, and name of the cyclist has yet to be released by authorities, but witness reports and photos show that the victim was a young woman, riding a Ford GoBike. She was wearing a helmet when she was hit.
A witness at the scene told the Examiner that the woman on the bike swerved to avoid a parked driver opening their car door, which put her directly in the line of the white box truck.
Traffic is closed off in the vicinity and people are being asked to avoid the scene.
“My heart goes out to the family and community of the young woman who lost her life today, ” District 6 Supervisor Matt Haney wrote on Facebook. “It is heartbreaking and deeply upsetting that this young woman was just feet away from the safety of a protected bike lane. This was preventable. It is infuriating that we haven’t done more to make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians on Howard and throughout the city.”
Howard Street has long been a problem area for cyclist safety. In 2016, bicyclist Kate Slattery was killed by a hit-and-run driver just one block away, at Seventh and Howard streets. And just last year, Russell Franklin died after being hit by a driver as he biked along Howard near South Van Ness Avenue.
After years of work from activists and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the city installed a protected bike lane on Howard that extended from Sixth to 11th streets last December. An extension of the bike lane was scheduled for approval this year. According to the Coalition, “more robust improvements are delayed and are not expected to be completed before 2023.”
“The tragedy today on Howard Street is heartbreaking and my thoughts are with the victim’s family and friends,” Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “There are long-term safety improvements coming to Howard Street, and I am pushing to move those forward as fast as possible. But while we wait for these capital improvements, we need to make short-term safety enhancements, which I have instructed the SFMTA to do without delay. Nothing will replace the life lost today, but we can prevent future tragedies by moving more quickly to implement safety improvements on our streets.”
This is a breaking news story. Stay tuned for updates.