Our thoughts are with the friends and family of Cheng Jin Lai, the bicyclist killed in an accident this morning.
A bicyclist was struck and killed by a San Francisco Muni bus this morning near the corner of Bryant and Division streets in the South of Market neighborhood. The 27-Bryant bus made a turn onto 11th street, where the bicycle accident occurred.
The bicyclist was pronounced dead at the scene and bus service was rerouted. The victim was identified as Cheng Jin Lai, 78. The name of the bus driver has not been released and is a 10-year veteran of the department. The driver has since been placed on non-driving status and was subject to alcohol and drug testing.
The 27-Bryant bus was missing an important safety feature that possibly could have saved Lai’s life. Further investigation revealed that the bus was missing an S-1 Gard, also known as a “people catcher”, a bumper-like device that is mounted in front of the rear tires. The device is designed to push people who fall under the bus away from its wheels to prevent the bus from running over any bodies. The bus that struck and killed Lai had the mounting equipment for the guard, indicating that it had once been installed onto the bus. It is still unclear why the “people catcher” was missing.
A Muni manager explained that the S-1 Gards can fall off buses when they go over a curb or hit an object, but the company does not keep enough in stock to reinstall them. Many buses are missing the safety feature. Unfortunately, a missing S-1 Gard does not deem a bus inoperable and bus operators will still drive such buses even if they know it is missing the safety device. SF Muni’s Executive Director Ed Reiskin has since ordered a thorough inspection of the fleet’s 800 buses to determine how many are missing the S-1 Gard.
This is the fourth fatal bicyclist accident in San Francisco this year.