Video Captures Bad Bike Accident on Steeps of Cortland

Neighbors who live along the eastern end of Cortland Avenue are puzzling over a security camera video that captured a frightening bicycle accident at the southeast corner of Cortland and Bronte.

The accident, which occurred last Thursday morning, August 3, may have also involved a Cadillac SUV. While the exact sequence of events is unclear, the cyclist may have lost control after the Cadillac turned left onto Bronte while traveling west on  Cortland.

The cyclist has not been identified, and there is no further information about the cyclist’s condition. Neighbors say the Cadillac left the scene after the accident, and the driver has also not been identified.

86 thoughts on “Video Captures Bad Bike Accident on Steeps of Cortland

  1. I realize that videos never capture anything in its entirety. That being said, it appears as if the cyclist was traveling at a rate of speed that prohibited a safe stop under any circumstance. I see this all too often not only on the streets of Bernal, but in Berkeley and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Cyclists, for your own safety, please slow down on those down slopes. If you can’t make a controlled emergency stop, it won’t matter who’s at fault. My drivers ed teacher used to say “the graveyard is full of people who had the right of way.” Okay. Well, I’ve donned my asbestos suit.

    • Are you victim shaming? It is obvious the asshole in the Cadillac SUV turned in front of oncoming traffic and forced the cyclist onto the sidewalk. Do you always slow down when a car comes towards you in the opposite direction in anticipation they will turn directly in front of you? Your post is tantamount to “I saw what she was wearing, she was asking for it”. The cyclist was obviously injured by the SUVs actions and you are here finger waving.

      • I think it’s safe to say the Cadillac caused the accident, but it’s also safe to say the crash’s severity was due to the speed of the cyclist. There are still speed limits that should be followed by both bikers and drivers. If you’re going so fast that you can’t react, regardless of the type of vehicle you’re in, you’re putting your life in danger. That’s not victim blaming, that’s just stating the obvious.

      • Whoa there, back up GGShark. Most of us who ride bikes know that we cannot stop anywhere near as fast as a car, especially if we are experienced and have had a few bad spills. That makes you cautious! Also, we know that drivers often do not see us, so we look for potential accidents like this one. This looks like maybe a kid, possibly on one of those ridiculous trick bikes with no brakes. And yes, flying down the hill way too fast for safety. Could be he was not even in sight of the driver as he made his turn. Concerned

      • Comparing this conversation to one about sexual assault is simply out of line. what’s wrong with you? Shark indeed.

      • Valerie Tisdel why do you find it necessary to tell me what to do? I couldn’t imagine you telling me to back up if we were face to face so I don’t know why you would want to do that in this place. This was not a “kid” and he was not on a “ridiculous trick bikes with no brakes”. If a car turns right in front of you, you will hit them no matter what. Those of you who ride bikes should be able to tell this was not the cyclists fault.

      • Look Ggshark, I just thought you were too hard on Concerned Neighbor. You are very combative in your language, and I think there is room for both points of view – that the driver may have been to blame and that bike riders need to be more cautious.

      • We don’t see enough to know. I looks to me that the bicycle must have been going extremely fast. How far uphill was the bicycle when the car decided to turn left. Could have been over a hundred feet!

    • Great advice from the drivers ed teacher! Pedestrians who walk into crosswalks without looking up should also take heed. Especially at crosswalks without stop signs where you enter the crosswalk from behind a parked car. There are at least 4 of these on Cortland (at Wild Side, Library/Moultrie, Moonlight and Piqueos). I am always amazed at how trusting people can be of today’s distracted drivers. If you can’t see the driver’s eyeballs, don’t cross! I hope the cyclist is on the road to recovery.

  2. holy shit that’s a bad fall. it doesn’t look like the car had anything to do with the crash, though. Looks like the cyclist was FLYING down the sidewalk and took a mogul. i hope he/she is ok.

    • You are incorrect: the SUV had everything to do with this. The cyclist ended up on the sidewalk because he/she didn’t want to hit the broadside of the SUV as it illegally turned in front of them; they were not on the sidewalk to start with. Also, the cyclist was not exceeding the 25 mph speed limit: he/she travelled only 12-15 feet after the impact with the driveway slope. Had they been traveling faster, they would have gone much farther.

      This is entirely the fault of the SUV. All you need to do is exchange the cyclist with another car, and it becomes obvious the SUV was in the wrong by turning in front of oncoming traffic that had right-of-way. Just because it’s a bike, people want to make all sorts of excuses for the shitty driver.

      • Gotcha. I was assuming the cyclist had been on the sidewalk the whole time. I live right near here so I see all kinds of traffic fuckery all the time (jaywalkers, people FLYING down cortland, etc. etc.).

      • “This is entirely the fault of the OLD LADY PUSHING THE STROLLER. All you need to do is exchange the cyclist with another car, and it becomes obvious the OLD LADY PUSHING THE STROLLER was in the wrong by turning in front of oncoming traffic that had right-of-way. Just because it’s a bike, people want to make all sorts of excuses for the shitty OLD LADY PUSHING THE STROLLER.”

      • You are incorrect. Traffic incidents often have split “fault” determinations and everyone involved ends up being cited.

        If a vehicle (or bike) is speeding, it skews a driver’s normal judgement as to whether it is safe to make a left turn. It can be difficult to determine the speed of a directly approaching vehicle, especially a small narrow bicycle.

        As to your comment about speed, just compare the speed of the car and the speed of the bicycle…

        The bicyclist was clearly exceeding the speed limit and the driver failed to make sure it was safe to make a left turn, probably because s/he did not see the bicyclist. Both contributed to the accident to some degree.

        Exchange the cyclist with another car and this is all still true. We like to have a hero and a villain, when real life is rarely so clear-cut.

        I hope the cyclist is okay.

        ———————————————————-

        On a related note, many people aren’t aware that each human eye has a significant blind spot (fovea) where the receptor nerves pass through the retina. It is a flaw of evolution. Our brains fill in these large gaps, making us unaware of them. There are many websites that show simple ways to “see” your own blindspots. It’s fascinating… and also probably the cause of a high percentage of auto vs. ped-in-crosswalk accidents. This accident has the right geometry for this anatomical flaw to have possibly played a part.

        I recommend anyone who’s never explored their own blind spots to do so. Considering how small an area of our visual field is actually in focus (Try to lock your eyes on the word “focus” and then read any of the text above or below it without moving your eye. It’s all a blur…), the blind spot is a large gap in our useful vision.

        Long winded way to say… Can’t we all be a little bit more forgiving of our flawed fellow humans?

      • The Caddy was well into its turn BEFORE the bicyclist entered the intersection. It was proceeding slowly and even used its turn signal. Just because it’s a bicyclist, people want to make all sorts of shitty excuses .

  3. It does not look like that biker is walking away from that. Any way of finding out what happened further?

    • Hi Valerie. The footage is from my dropcam. My neighbor from across the street was the first to render assistance and called 911. The police never came to the scene and no police report was entered until I called it in and submitted the video on a thumb drive. The bicyclist was taken away via ambulance. I don’t believe the bicyclist was riding down the sidewalk. He was riding what I think was a carbon fiber racing bike (I was able to lift the bike with two fingers) and had on bicycle gear complete with bike shoes with clips. He is a serious bicyclist. From the angle he enters the sidewalk I think he was on the street and forced onto the sidewalk. Yes, he was riding too fast. But if you are driving a vehicle and make a left turn where a vehicle could hit you in the intersection, then you haven’t yielded to the vehicle traveling straight and you are at fault. I think I know someone who might have footage in the right place before the accident happened. I am going to attempt to obtain it.

      • Doesn’t cortland turn or swerve around that point? Is it likely that the SUV had zero warning of an speeding biker coming down the hill?
        There are a lot of blind corners along there that it can be difficult to see even pedestrians waiting to walk across let alone a speeding bicycle coming basically out of no where.

  4. That is a frightening video…I hope the bicyclist is ok.. and is there a possibility that the Cadillac turned around and came back to check on him? Ever hopeful..

  5. To Mike, about un-signaled crosswalks: Honolulu just passed a “no texting in crosswalks” law that might help — a little — but yes, there’s no substitute for adequate signage and responsible AWARENESS, dammit. As a life-long pedestrian partnered with a former cabbie (and we both bike), I’ve heard horror stories from all sides of the issue, and most boil down to oblivious, entitled narcissists whom assume that any and all traffic will stop and bow down to them. Nope: we gotta cultivate a defensive alertness, whatever our mode of mobility.

    • Jo Falcon, Librarian at Large: always the voice of reason.

      That accident looks horrible. I hope the cyclist is okay. what impressed me about the video was that the SUV seemed to be traveling at a reasonable rate of speed and even made its turn rather slowly, so it seem that the driver should’ve been able to see the cyclist. Scary.

  6. Here is a half-hour long clip of the accident.
    If anyone sees the Cadillac Escalade return, please indicate the time in a comment.
    [video src="https://video.nest.com/clip/8b541ec9ec3c4fdda47a6ddc1323f30d.mp4" /]

  7. If you’re looking up the hill on Cortland, you can see there is a flat section at Putnam, the next intersection. Of course I don’t know what happened, but if the cyclist was on that flat section when the car made its turn, he could have be partially obscured. Here’s the view via Google Maps.

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cortland+Ave+%26+Bronte+St,+San+Francisco,+CA+94110/@37.7397634,-122.409985,3a,75y,270h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sJwRuiLyUVb0zIAQn08XS0Q!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!4m5!3m4!1s0x808f7e570323ff87:0x799ba2b365894a09!8m2!3d37.7397652!4d-122.4101333

  8. I suspect that both played a part in this crash. I’m glad that the tape was sent to the police. It is always the responsibility of the driver to stop and render aid. It’s quite shameful of the driver to just leave the scene, not to mention criminal and immoral. This driver Is likely our neighbor. Someone knows this person and where they live. I trust that they will report them to the police.

    My friend has had to deal with traumatic brain injury from a crash and we never identified the driver. She has been haunted by the fact that someone would leave the scene so callously and she has suffered irreparable brain damage that has rendered this beautiful loving person a shell of herself.

    • Why do you assume the driver was aware of the accident? It is highly likely the crash wasn’t visible from the SUV.

      • Your earlier description of the fovea as a blind spot is completely wrong. Definition of fovea from a medical dictionary: “a small depression in the retina of the eye where visual acuity is highest.”

        Makes other statements from the same source suspect.

        (Earlier statement didn’t have a Reply button, so responding here.)

      • You are correct, Fran. My memory slipped. And, ummmm, it makes no difference to me whether you believe facts about human anatomy or not. You still have a blind spot in each of your eyes and a surprisingly small area of focus in your overall field of vision.

        “Blind spot, small portion of the visual field of each eye that corresponds to the position of the optic disk (also known as the optic nerve head) within the retina. There are no photoreceptors (i.e., rods or cones) in the optic disk, and, therefore, there is no image detection in this area.”

        I think its a fascinating–and probably relevant to this incident–fact about human vision
        and brain function. Because the reason we don’t perceive the blind spots is that our brain fills them in automatically. It is an easy-to-demonstrate example of how our perception isn’t always reliable.

  9. IMO, the burden of responsibility is on the driver of the motor vehicle.
    As a driver, one challenge I regularly face is that the column between the windshield and the front door all too often blocks my view, creating a blind spot when executing turns or crossing an intersection. I often lean forward to see around the column for a second to make sure everything’s clear.
    Given how fast the bike was traveling and the SUV’s slow rate of turn, it saddens me to think that the bike may have been moving so fast that it approached the SUV almost entirely in this blind spot.
    Morally and legally, it’s the motor vehicle driver’s responsibility to always be situationally aware and to manage their blind spots. As one who as a skateboarder and bicyclist has been hospitalized myself from accidents with vehicles, the bicyclist has a PRACTICAL responsibility to ride defensively and not push the limits, if only for their own self preservation.

    • OMG I bet you are right about the blind spot! My car is really bad that way too. I think a lot of cars nowadays have the same issue.

      • As do your eyes, Valerie. If you don’t look up how to explore your eyes’ blind spots (using only your thumbs held at arm’s length) you are missing a chance to learn something incredible about your visual system.

        🙂

  10. Here is a link to a different view of the accident:
    https://centralbernalsf.nextdoor.com/news_feed/?post=59818086
    Please note the aftermarket rear horizontal directionals on the back of this probable 2006 Cadillac Escalade. Please compare to a photo of 2006 Cadillac Escalade outside of Bare Bottle Brewery in April, 2017. If I’m not mistaken, both of these automobiles seem to have the same custom directionals. Does anyone know who owns this car? Does anyone know anyone who works at Google who could remove the license plate filter?. I have reported this information to the police.

    Description of vehicle involved – Color: White, Make: Cadillac, Model: Escalade, Year: 2006 (Second Generation Escalade, Type: Truck, License Plate: Unknow, Other details: Last scene driving up Bronte from Cortland. Possibly seen in front of Bare Bottle Brewery in April, 2017

    • Before we get out the torches and pitchforks, we should take a breath and realize the SUV may not have been aware that the cyclist crashed, since there was no contact…

    • Also, is there any way to see the alternate video elsewhere? I’m not signing up to Nextdoor and don’t have a Facebook account either.

  11. Here’s another view of the incident: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMP7vufOjGo&feature=youtu.be

    I ride down that side of Cortland frequently and the cyclist is not going an unreasonable speed given the downhill slope; they are probably going right around the speed limit (25mph). Cars and buses frequently travel faster than that on that section of Cortland. To whoever is trying to blame the cyclist saying they should never travel at a speed such that they can’t make an emergency stop for anything, that’s just not realistic. Fundamentally, if something pops out right in front of you at the last moment, there’s always a speed at which there’s no way to avoid it. If you follow that to its logical conclusion, you can’t move at all!

    If it had been a car coming down the hill at that speed, nobody would be blaming the downhill driver and both vehicles would have been seriously damaged. Fundamentally, when making a left turn, it is necessary to yield to oncoming traffic, regardless of whether it is a cyclist, car, SUV, truck, bus, whatever.

    I hope the cyclist is not too badly hurt and is able to make a full recovery.

  12. THE PLOT THICKENS!

    Bike Accident on Cortland – New Video and Information
    Here is a link to a different view of the accident:

    Please note the aftermarket rear horizontal directionals on the back of this probable 2006 Cadillac Escalade. Please compare to a photo of 2006 Cadillac Escalade outside of Bare Bottle Brewery in April, 2017. If I’m not mistaken, both of these automobiles seem to have the same custom directionals. Does anyone know who owns this car? Does anyone know anyone who works at Google who could remove the license plate filter?. I have reported this information to the police.

    Description of vehicle involved – Color: White, Make: Cadillac, Model: Escalade, Year: 2006 (Second Generation Escalade, Type: Truck, License Plate: Unknow, Other details: Last scene driving up Bronte from Cortland. Possibly seen in front of Bare Bottle Brewery in April, 2017

  13. I regularly turn left onto Cortland from Bronte & visibility at this intersection is terrible. I 311’d it probably within the last year. In response, the city sent out a traffic engineer. Red striping the curb for a single parking spot space (SW corner) followed. Visibility improved only slightly. I contacted the city again because of poor visibility & asked about installing a mirror. I was told that the city discourages mirrors. Visibility remains awful at this intersection.

  14. That bike was flying and bikes are a lot harder to see than cars from long distances. I can honestly say this could have easily been me driving. Of course I wouldn’t have fled the scene.

  15. First of all, the bicyclist is 100% wrong fro riding on the sidewalk… if they had some legitimate reason for cycling on the sidewalk, they were going entirely too fast —
    The cyclist hit something on the sidewalk — the car didn’t hit him… the recklessness of the bicyclist is what caused the accident. The SUV driver followed the rules of the road — to blame the vehicle is not taking responsibility as a cyclist. I’m usually on the side of bicyclists in the majority of these kind of arguments, because more than often, the automobile driver is at fault. But definitely NOT in this case.

  16. Now would someone explain how that SUV was supposed to see a small, dark, flash of a bicycle, traveling at that speed? I’m looking a video of the incident, where I *know* a bike is about to appear, and I still almost miss it.

    Yes, to whomever said, it would have been unambiguous if it was a car going downhill instead, yeah, you’re right! Because a car would have been able to stop! And it would have been visible, and if they were forced to collide it would at least have a chance to slow most of the way down.

    Like everyone else, I hope the bicyclist is fine, but you ride like a jackass, you’re going to get hurt. And for everyone that wants to go all vigilante on the SUV driver, I’m pretty sure the the police are going to say that if there was no collision, they won’t be able to find fault.

    I ride bikes and motorcycles around the city all the time. I *know* I am invisible, and I know I’m responsible for keeping myself out of harms way. That SUV was traveling at a safe speed, and clearly never saw the bicyclist, maybe even not *after* the wreck.

    What if he had swerved to miss a woman pushing a baby carriage across the street and couldn’t stop. Would she be at fault too?

  17. A similar white SUV is parked on Bronte at Mojave in this older Google Map image:

    Regardless of the opinions have been provided with regard to the cyclist’s speed, the SUV was the trigger for the accident and subsequently left the scene. That’s a crime.

  18. Two points about visibility I think have been overlooked or minimally discussed:

    How visible was the SUV? when did the SUV turn on its turn indicators? The video at the top shows the turn indicator on while turning, but it isn’t clear from either video when the turn indicators were turned on. If they were on before the turn, the cyclist would have had an … indicator… that the SUV was going to turn.

    How visible was the cyclist? Did the cyclist have blinking lights? Was he(?) wearing bright, reflective colors? Was he moving at a speed where incoming traffic is likely to see him?

    The earlier each of them could see each other, the easiest it is to avoid a crash.

    • I’m struck by how slow the SUV takes the turn, even slightly hesitating before following through. That turn seems way too slow, as if the driver was looking at something or doing something else while taking the turn.

      I suspect that the cyclist was coming down the hill, saw the SUV start the turn but then hesitate or go really slow, and assumed that the SUV was waiting for him to pass before proceeding. So the cyclist didn’t slow down, or minimally slowed, and then was shocked to see the SUV proceed with the turn. But by then it was way too late to stop, so the cyclist swerved to avoid the SUV.

      That would be a misjudgment by the cyclist, obviously, but you have to make those kinds of split-second judgment calls constantly while cycling. Usually (hopefully) you make the right call. Play it too safer and you end up in weird games of chicken with cars, where you’re both stuck at a stand-still, not sure who is going to move first. After a few of those, you start realizing that most cars want you to go first in those situations. Given that, I can understand why the cyclist might have had confidence that the car was waiting and decided to go for it.

      As for the SUV, obviously leaving the scene is morally and likely legally indefensible. But there should be no question that the turn was not legal, either. Even if the cyclist was going 40 mph the cyclist had the right-of-way, and the SUV could only turn when/if it was safe to do so. It was obviously not safe, so the SUV is at fault.

      • I think the speed limit for that stretch of Cortland is 30 mph (I’m pretty sure it’s not posted and that’s the default for residential streets), and I’m confident that the cyclist was not exceeding that speed. But my point is that even if the cyclist was speeding, the SUV is still legally at fault for failing to yield.

  19. Looks to me like both are at fault, the cyclist for excessive speed for street conditions, and the driver for leaving the scene. I’m surprised that two different unrelated security cameras caught this. Being both a cyclist and a driver I learned long ago to watch at least 3 car lengths ahead to anticipate conditions and dumb moves by other folks. Principles don’t matter if the person winds up dead.

  20. I am a cyclist and have biked down that road. I am going to say that this cyclist was going too fast, and I have really good evidence sitting on my computer that he was going not 25mph but nearly 40mph. I think it’s possible that the car had no chance at seeing that bike, I think this will need to be figured out by people who understand these matters.

    This doesn’t change the fact that this car SHOULD HAVE STOPPED and checked on this person if they had any inclination that they hit someone.

    • What kind of evidence do you have that he was going 40 mph? That’s incredibly fast for a bike and somewhat hard to believe, even considering how steep that hill is and how long it goes without stop signs.

      • Counting the number of video frames that it takes the cyclist to move past certain points on the street, and using google maps to calculate the distances travelled plus the frame rate of the video, one can make rough calculations of how fast the cyclist was traveling. I get 30-40 ft/sec or 20-27mph from one video, and 27ft/sec or 18mph from the other.

      • Thanks, JohnP, very interesting calculations. 18-25 mph is an entirely reasonable speed for a cyclist on that hill.

      • Well, regardless of the actual speed, it was too fast for his safety around a distracted or just inattentive driver. It goes to show two things: 1) The speed limit is for cars – you are not necessarily safe riding a bike that fast. 2) The SF bicycle coalition’s good work with infrastructure to make bikes safer and more visible is really necessary.

  21. Hi there,

    First of all thank you so much to everybody who shared information and videos regarding that accident. It helps a lot figuring out what happened and it will help the police doing his job.
    I am a very close friend of the cyclist, and I would like to reassure all of you who cared about him that he’s alive and back home after few days at the hospital.
    He suffered multiple severe injuries but he’s safe now and need to rest.

    Everything here has been shared with the police, so please keep posting if you have any further information or video regarding that accident. It would help making that neighborhood safer for everybody.

    Clearly, the white vehicle should have stopped and help. It is terrible to see that car leaving without even calling an ambulance…So thank you so much to the neighbor who might have saved my friend’s life by calling 911.
    The only thing I can tell you, is that my friend is a young man, great cyclist, very used to that trip and this neighborhood and with excellent reflexes. He wasn’t riding on the sidewalk at any moment and just tried to dodge a car which was on his way…
    So please don’t try to judge who’s fault it was, a terrible accident happened, and the most important is to receive as much help as we can now!

    Thanks again to anybody who helped and will help, be safe and take care!

  22. Man it’s easy to gather a lynch mob! Why don’t we just go ahead and hunt down the Escalade, jail the owner, and destroy the car without ever learning all the facts of the incident?

    Why does everyone assume the SUV driver saw the bike crash?

    This whole incident is a PERFECT example of why the spread of “security” cameras does NOT make us safer. It just causes people to believe that one or even two videos tell the entire story. They don’t. This is a easily demonstrated fact that most people refuse to accept. The NYT has an interactive demonstration, as it pertains to police bodycams, on its website.

    Glad to hear the bicyclist is at home. I wish him a quick and full recovery.

    • I have similar doubts. Take, for instance, the turn indicator. While the time indicator may or may not be essential to the discussion, even with two angles of the same event we cannot tell when the turn indicator came on. But people can draw whatever conclusions they want when something is not perfectly shown.

  23. California Vehicle Code Section 21801(a)
    “The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left or complete a u-turn upon a highway or turn left into public or private property or alley shall yield the right of way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement and shall continue to yield the right of way to the approaching vehicles until the left or u-tun can be made with reasonable safety”

    The SUV failed to yield sufficiently or adequately since an accident resulted from their left turn.

  24. HEARING THE CRASH — We assume that the car drove away because the driver was unaware of the accident. But a bike flipping over and hitting a wall and causing soot to fly all over would certainly have created A LOT OF NOISE. The videos are silent so most people assume that the accident was silent. It definitely was not silent. So, the driver obviously knew the cyclist was in a bad accident.

    • And you can be sure that rider was yelling loudly as the car turned in front of him. Any driver who was unaware of that accident shouldn’t be allowed to drive a motor vehicle.

      I’m hoping someone will come forward to help identify the driver.

    • “We assume”

      “You can be sure…”

      Can you be disqualified from jury service based on Blog comments?

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