Russian Roulette With Cyclists’ Lives In San Mateo County

By Craig Davis
Founder
CyclistVideoEvidence.com

In a little over one month, a CyclistVideoEvidence.com (CVE) member’s life, and the lives of oncoming drivers, were repeatedly endangered by egregiously dangerous drivers, crossing double yellow lines, into the oncoming lane, all while entering blind curves.  One of the vehicles was a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office (SMCSO) cruiser.  This article shares our member’s cyclist video evidence from ten of those incidents, and another important eleventh incident.

This critical artery, connecting eastern San Mateo County with the coast, is used by cyclists thousands of times throughout the year.  That translates to thousands of similar near miss incidents per year.  To make matters exponentially worse, some people are demanding that forty-foot buses be allowed on this already incredibly dangerous artery.

Many of the cyclists riding to the coast are compelled to ride for physical, and most importantly, mental well-being.  Law enforcement could change the behavior of these dangerous drivers, before collisions occur, by taking traffic violence seriously enough to enforce existing laws.  But they refuse to cite drivers, even with objective and irrefutable cyclists’ video evidence.   

San Mateo County government officials could save lives, and end this Russian roulette of reckless driving, by demanding law enforcement enforce existing laws, specifically: reckless driving, assault, and crossing double yellow lines, by using cyclists’ objective and irrefutable video evidence.

It's difficult for non-cyclists to comprehend the threats and terror cyclists face riding on the roads. Each of these five extremely dangerous incidents were caused by relatively small vehicles, illegally passing on blind curves, even when a highly visible yellow cyclists' turn out sign was visible a few feet ahead.  It's important to remember that Frank Masterson was killed in August 2020 by a Prius passing another cyclist around a blind curve on Kings Mountain Road.  If relatively small vehicles regularly cause these egregiously dangerous threats to cyclists' lives, imagine the devastation forty-foot buses could wreak.  Better yet, watch George Burkhard's cyclist video evidence when a bus could not fit within the double yellow lines of this narrow road with tight turns.  George was lucky to escape with his life.

We begin with the San Mateo County Sheriff's cruiser incident to demonstrate that CVE's awareness and education campaigns should be required for drivers, cyclists and law enforcement.  For drivers, to change their behavior before collisions occur, cyclists to resensitize and recalibrate their awareness of these life-threatening near miss incidents because they have become inured to them, and law enforcement to take traffic violence seriously.  Our awareness and education campaigns are critical to ending this self-reinforcing vicious cycle on the part of all three stakeholders, that creates unsafe streets for all vulnerable road users.  These actual experienced threats can only be brought to light by cyclists riding with a camera and submitting all of their near miss incidents to our free Incident Managment System, as our member cyclist has for ten of these incidents.

The SMCSO cruiser endangered the cyclist and oncoming traffic, by crossing over the solid yellow lines around a blind turn and entering a blind left curve, just before a highly visible yellow cyclists' turn out sign a few feet ahead that was illuminated by the cyclist's flashing front light.  The cruiser approached from a distance, with both driver's side wheels well into the oncoming traffic lane, but retreated when he was finally able to see an oncoming downhill vehicle.  The image below shows the cruiser's rear tire on the white line, and the front wheel turned in toward the cyclist, only a few feet from the cyclist.  Based on the approach angle, the passenger side mirror was inches from hitting the cyclist when the cruiser was next to the cyclist.  If more oncoming cars appeared around the blind turn, it would have been a catastrophe. 

SMCSO reckless driving, maybe assault 2 w

Below is our member's actual video evidence.

The second and third incidents occurred on 5/25/23.  A full size, double cab, pickup truck passed our member on a blind left curve, followed by an SUV that passed our member on the same blind curve, and could have killed another cyclist who was coming downhill.  You can hear the downhill cyclist yell.

The fourth and fifth incidents occurred on 6/2/23.  A green Mini passes on a blind left curve, directly into an oncoming car and SUV, barely avoiding a horrible tragedy by inches.  You can hear our member yell "look out!"  This was followed by a VW sedan passing on the same blind left curve.

The sixth incident occurred on 6/20/23.  A sedan passes a cyclist on a blind uphill curve, completely into the oncoming lane, directly into our member coming downhill.  Our member's safe cycling technique, braking to an almost complete stop when he saw the first uphill car, barely avoided another horrible tragedy, by inches.  You can hear our member yell.

The seventh and eighth incidents occurred on 7/6/23.  Two sedans pass our member on blind uphill left curves, almost completely into the oncoming lane.  If a car or cyclist were coming downhill, there would have been more horrible tragedies.  You can hear our member yell "don't pass on blind corners."

The ninth and tenth incidents occurred on 7/10/23 at and near the entrance to Huddart Park. The first is a large truck owned by VM Utility Tree Service passing far across the double yellow line on a blind left curve. The second is a pickup truck passing far over the double yellow lines, directly into the path of an oncoming car, forcing it to pull off the road and stop.

You can see from these eleven incidents that all of the cyclists completely followed the rules of the road when their lives were endangered by egregiously dangerous drivers.  During a recent Woodside Town Council meeting, a speaker called for the repeal of an ordinance banning large buses on Kings Mountain Road.  She also argued in an article the day before the meeting, that "there is no objective data to support claims that buses have caused safety hazards."  Clearly, our member's video evidence of ten incidents within the past month, all with relatively small vehicles compared to a forty-foot bus, provide exactly that objective evidence. George Burkhard's incident further documents exactly how incredibly dangerous buses are on this road.  He barely escaped with his life.

She further cited a quote from a 2018 report by Parisi Transportation Consulting, funded by the Town of Woodside, in which they irresponsibly state: "Cyclists traveling in the downhill direction were observed to ride at speeds equaling or exceeding the speeds of downhill vehicles and did not typically slow down near the curves," and "We also observed that cyclists would travel downhill at speeds equaling or exceeding the speeds of downhill vehicles, would maintain these speeds at the curves, and would turn wide and often encroach into the opposing lane. These cyclists are at increased risk of collisions with uphill traveling vehicles." 

Our cyclist's video evidence objectively and irrefutably disproves these statements.  All of the cyclists going downhill in these videos exercised the rules of the road, yet Parisi Transportation Consulting made it sound like all cyclists are reckless.  In fact, the exact opposite was true: the egregiously dangerous vehicles in this objective video evidence, endangered everyone on the road, cyclists and vehicles alike. 

The statements were also highly irresponsible because they made them without sharing their methodology.  Exactly how many cyclists did they observe?  Did they observe for an hour on one day?  What was the date and where exactly did they observe?  Did they document their observations with video evidence? 

Once again, law enforcement could change the behavior of these dangerous drivers, before collisions occur, by taking traffic violence seriously enough to enforce existing laws.  But they refuse to cite drivers, even with objective and irrefutable cyclists' video evidence.   

San Mateo County government officials could save lives, and end this Russian roulette of reckless driving, by demanding law enforcement enforce existing laws, specifically: reckless driving, assault, and crossing double yellow lines, by using cyclists' objective and irrefutable video evidence.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Elaine Salinger on July 11, 2023 at 9:11 am

    Thank you for your well written, thorough, and objective summary of the perils cyclists face because of reckless driving and lack of action by law enforcement. Law enforcement has a choice:
    Investigate and cite each offense documented in videos. Change these drivers’ behavior before there is a collision. Educate the public as the cited drivers share their experiences with friends and family….Or be an accomplice to murder as you look the other way and claim ignorance or lack of authority. Excuse me, but aren’t law enforcement officers supposed to enforce the laws?

  2. Stephen Bingham on July 11, 2023 at 2:11 pm

    i hope you share this with the San Mateo DA, Police Dept. and County supervisors. Also perhaps local TV. it’s a ‘great’ story.

  3. Joseph on July 11, 2023 at 2:38 pm

    I seems to me that transporting children to camp could just as easily be accomplished by using vans designed for this purpose. Insisting on the use of 40’ buses when it’s clear they are incompatible and unsafe on KMR is just plain stubborn.

  4. Bruce Dughi on July 11, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks for the informative article–disheartening for sure. What I noticed was the nonchalant, cavalier way drivers passed cyclists by continuing their momentum without slowing down to assess the situation. They were going to pass no matter what and were not going to be slowed down. If it were a wider vehicle like a tractor, they would have been forced to slow down to assess the visibility thru the turns.

    I was particularly disappointed to see the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office (SMCSO) cruiser pass dangerously on the blind corner, especially with signed/marked bicycle pull out so close at hand!!! Could the SMCSO cruiser not wait for 10sec for the pull out? The pull out was installed exactly so drivers could pass safely. The SMCSO cruiser totally defeated the purpose of the pull out. Not only should the SMCSO be setting an example, but ignorance is no excuse since the pull out was signed before the SMCSO cruiser passed and he should already know the road anyway from frequent patrols. Sheriff Corpus needs to talk to this person.

  5. giuliano carlini on July 12, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    I used to ride Kings Mountain a fair bit. Had to take some time away from it, but returned last week. Going to go back there tomorrow. I can attest to how many motorists there just won’t wait and do this. You don’t take the lane and they close pass. You do take the lane and they cross the double yellow on blind curves.

  6. AA on July 12, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    And then we all celebrated the change lane to pass law… one of the dumber laws IMHO.

    I really wish cyclists would not ride up KMR below Huddard. It’s where most traffic occurs and where most people who can’t drive round corners can be found on their way to Huddard. For cyclists it’s much more pleasant to ride up through Huddard and SMCP should be encouraging this route. Can we focus on encouraging that?

    The real problem is crappy driver training and a trivial driving test. Some drivers are just dumb and ignorant. I did stop one driver attempting to pass on a blind corner. She was clueless, not malicious, not impatient, just clueless. If you never train drivers to pass, never test their ability to pass, how do you expect drivers to do it well?

    Those videos are not as bad as what I have witnessed.

    Much of what Parisi Consulting stated is correct for the cohort of cyclists I used to ride with – we are always faster than cars downhill. My only disagreement is with “ would turn wide and often encroach into the opposing lane. These cyclists are at increased risk of collisions with uphill traveling vehicles.”

    Yes, I’m at increased risk of collision with uphill vehicles but only if said vehicles are in my lane. After being passed several times by vehicles completely in the other lane on a blind left corner that I come down at easily 30mph I have since not ridden down that part of KMR.

    If you are biking down KMR and have cars behind you, do please pull over. That’s a request from a friend that lives on Skyline who generally isn’t bothered by cyclists.

  7. Justin Carr on July 17, 2023 at 9:10 am

    Video here: https://youtu.be/0rjrTpjfdhY

    I had a city bus here in Tampa FL just completely barrel thru a red light while we had the cross walk symbol. I filed a complaint with the department that run these buses. I had my daughter in the front bucket of the bakfiet with me. We were almost certainly killed if they bus hit us. I get no recourse from filing the ticket with the bus org or the sheriffs office. So many close calls and we have no form of filing objective video evidence so consulting groups think there is no objective evidence. Without this website I don’t know if another way to find this data easily.

  8. Matt Turner on July 18, 2023 at 1:30 pm

    Change will only come when accountable policy makers are embarrassed by the reality they have a hand in being responsible for. Video is the key. Those of us who cycle experience regular threats, intentional or otherwise. These threats have been ignored by law enforcement, elected officials, and engineers. It comes as no surprise that if you ignore something as completely as they have ignored cycling safety, that nothing changes. Articles like this one, which go a long way to exposing the massively under-reported reality we face are essential. I encourage everyone to share this widely.

  9. George B on July 24, 2023 at 7:13 pm

    As someone who has raced bikes, ride casually, and commuted to/from work in SMC since 2005, I have experienced a lot of these issues. In the past it was impossible to get anyone to take anything seriously because it was all hearsay. Now that cycling-specific video cameras are ubiquitous and affordable, I encourage everyone to ride with one. These videos illustrate why. Not only is it important to increase awareness of these issues so that police and community take them seriously, but it is also VERY useful for the general public to assume that “cyclists are recording everything they are doing”. Enforcement is one thing, but I think if that becomes common enough, that fact alone will go a long way toward solving these problems. I’ve used national and international incident trackers, but having a Bay Area / county-level version will be EXTERMELY valuable. I encourage everyone to spread the word so this can become a powerful tool!

  10. Robert Zhou on July 25, 2023 at 10:48 pm

    On my first night ride, a reckless driver screamed at me while I was struggling to climb up the bridge above US 101. Because of this incident, I don’t know how often I’ll ride my bike.

  11. Scott Lum on January 30, 2024 at 7:16 pm

    Several Jersey Barriers or Jensen Precast K Rails need to be installed on the double yellow line around these curves to stop any vehicle from passing on the blind curves. At the very least, install Bollards.

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