What happened in San Francisco, where a bike commuter struck and killed a pedestrian, is a tragedy for both sides. I’m all for bicyclists sharing the streets with cars — obviously it’s better for the environment — but bicyclists should be tested and licensed the way motorists are, and their bikes should carry license plates too.
Maybe that would help curb the thoughtless element that blows through stop signs and red lights and blithely crosses streets mid-block. It might even stop the guys who face their bikes the wrong way in traffic lanes so their biking buddies can get a head start over cars.
It is wrong to demonize all cyclists for the actions of a few. Bicycles are wheeled vehicles and must yield to pedestrians just as cars must do. The cyclist accused of hitting and killing the pedestrian should be prosecuted just as if he were behind the wheel of a car. He may learn to show more concern for the life of another human being than for his helmet.
Chris Bucherre, the bicyclist charged in the death of pedestrian Sutchi Hui, may not have a lot to worry about. The last San Francisco bicyclist to kill a pedestrian was sentenced to probation and community service.
As a pedestrian in West L.A., my personal experience is that bicycles have turned the sidewalks into roadways. As a result, I practice a technique I call defensive walking: I always assume the presence of bicycles on the sidewalks and keep a constant 360-degree situational awareness.
The presence of bicycles has taken the joy out of going for a simple walk. And with the city of Los Angeles treating them like sacred cows, it’s enough to drive you, well, to drive.