On October 3, 2013, the SF Board of Supervisors held a hearing to look into the San Francisco Police Department’s response to handling incidents involving bicyclists and pedestrians. The three-hour-long hearing allowed nearly 40 people to share personal stories of mistreatment by SFPD. Supervisor Eric Mar called it “one of the most effective hearings to date.”
The hearing was called after the SFPD publicly erred in their investigation into the death of 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac, a bicyclist who died when struck by a truck driver in SOMA. SFPD originally blamed the accident on Amelie and claimed that there was no video footage of the incident. Members of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition took initiative and asked nearby businesses if they had surveillance footage, which was located a mere ten minutes into their search. Once the footage was reviewed, SFPD held the truck driver at fault.
Attorney Miles B. Cooper was invited to speak at this hearing as someone who regularly represents bicyclists and pedestrians who are seriously injured in traffic accidents. His presentation compared the depth and length of time of investigations of motor vehicle accidents and vehicle accidents that also involve a pedestrian or bicyclist. Investigations of the latter are typically much shorter, and many officials erroneously blame the victim at first.
Several SF Supervisors are now advocating for improved bicyclist safety, in addition to changing the way SFPD approaches these incidents. Supervisor Jane Kim of District 6, which has the most number of bike and pedestrian injuries and fatalities in San Francisco, urged SFPD to improve training protocol. Supervisor Norman Yee, who himself was hit and injured while walking around the city, said, “Our city streets are changing and it’s time for the police to catch up with that change.” Supervisor David Campos has gone even further, calling for a joint hearing with the Police Commission to have a more in-depth discussion and plan for revamping how SFPD responds to bicycle and pedestrian traffic accidents.
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