Peter Grace was a cyclist and a gentleman

By Craig Davis

Peter Grace was a novel thinker.  He was also an incredible gentleman as documented in a collision incident video he shared in comments at the end of my 2/10/22 article. Listen as Peter has a polite conversation with the woman who just hit him with her car in Sausalito, sharing how scared he was by almost getting knocked over.  He then wishes her a Happy New Year and offers to let her proceed ahead of him.

Peter looked out for the entire cycling community by calling for critically needed enforcement of existing laws in his comments on both my 2/10/22 and 7/21/23 articles.

Peter’s novel thinking was demonstrated during our 11/16/21 Building Bridges to Common Ground meeting, between CVE's eleven member San Mateo County (SMC) Cycling Safety Council, the SMC Sheriff’s Office and SMC Supervisor David Pine’s Chief of Staff, Mark Burruto.  We were discussing how to address the systemic anti-cyclist bias across law enforcement and the legal system that cyclists had been experiencing for years.  Peter suggested we request a civil grand jury investigation.  Much to my surprise, Burruto said it was a good idea.

Peter’s novel idea was the impetus for my 2/10/22 article concluding that we were being forced to request the first of its kind civil grand jury investigation.  Over a year later, after exhausting all other options to build bridges to common ground, I formally requested the investigation.  A San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury was convened and confirmed our contention in their 7/10/23 final report.

Over the years Peter submitted many near miss incident reports to CVE’s Incident Management System, and to law enforcement, with the hope that law enforcement would enforce existing laws for cycling safety.  He suffered many indignities from law enforcement, including the California Highway Patrol making him drive to the station and fill out an incident report by hand, on blank sheets of paper.  This clearly communicated the lack of seriousness they gave cyclists’ incident reports, and that it would be filed in the trash once Peter left the station.

You can read Peter’s handwritten incident report below and watch the incident video where the pickup truck driver endangers everyone in the group of ascending Western Wheelers cyclists who were approaching a blind curve, as well a descending cyclist coming around the blind curve, narrowly avoiding a tragic head on collision with the pickup truck.  You can listen to the driver yell “get the fuck out of here you motherfuckers,” “get out of the fucking road,” and Peter say, “I’m reporting him to the police.”

Peter's incident report notes that Frank Masterson was killed by a driver going uphill in the downhill lane of the same road.

Peter also reported the incident to the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office where the Deputy wrote in the case report “After I reviewed the video, I determined there was no crime.” 

This serious case of assault and reckless driving was reflexively dismissed out of hand. 

Domestic violence or gun violence victims reporting an assault would never be treated with such unprofessional disregard, but cyclists’ traffic violence incident reports, complete with video evidence, are routinely rejected by law enforcement.

In his comments on my 7/21/23 article, Peter shared a BBC video documenting a road safety initiative called Operation Snap.  He said, “Even the UK law enforcement will give citations based on video evidence and are proud enough of their work to share the results with the BBC.”

In his comments at the end of my 2/10/22 article Peter wrote:

"Until we get bias against cyclists and cyclist safety addressed, we are not going to get more people to use biking as a form of transport which must be one of the more straight forward changes in behavior needed to address Climate Change. If the police do not support bicyclist safety, we are all stuck on the wrong side of the river. The police support is a key link in the bridge across to reducing our carbon footprint. The coming growth in electric bikes makes this support even more important and critical. Yes, I am considering getting a cargo bike for my trips to COSTCO instead of driving.

I have been repeatedly harassed while biking and now ride with front and back cameras to capture these unsavory moments. Unfortunately, they can happen unexpectedly quickly although in this case, the harassment began 5 seconds before the VW passed us horn blaring. I surmise that we were not wanted on the road or were we the butt of an innocent bit of fun?

I now ride with three flashing back lights and a flashing front light and still worry about getting home each night to have supper with my wife."

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  1. matt haber on December 20, 2023 at 6:16 pm

    Thanks for this, Craig. Might be worth mentioning that Peter was tragically killed while on club ride, though everything I have heard suggests that the driver was not at fault.

    • Tim Hurley on January 8, 2024 at 12:55 pm

      The item of largest fault in Peter’s killing was the design of the transportation infrastructure he had the bad fortune to be using. While the SMART pathway is considered to be an outstanding example of a separated and safe cycling facility, there are multiple areas along it that are so poorly designed they will continue to kill cyclists until they are fixed, and even more so, until the overwhelming societal prioritization of motorist convenience is resolved. Without going into too much detail, the problems with the Cal Park Hill and SMART Trail pathways where Peter was killed include about a 1/4 mile stretch in which a cyclist: must dismount and walk the bike, potentially faces oncoming motor vehicle traffic if choosing to ride onto Francisco Blvd., loses the bike lane to a merge lane for right turning motorists onto Anderson, and encounters a “bikes must exit” requirement forcing cyclists to deviate from their intended route for a railroad tracks crossing. During the ghost bike ceremony for Peter at this site, I noticed most cyclists ignoring these requirements, as Peter surely did the morning he was killed. Why wouldn’t a skilled cyclist choose to use the most logical transportation facility, even if that means crossing wet rail tracks at an angle, when the official alternative takes one out of one’s way and assumes one is a secondary roadway user? As I asked the crowd gathered around the ghost bike, when has a motorist ever been asked to do any of the things cyclists are meant to do? When has a motorist been required to get out of the car and push it, or faced into oncoming vehicles at an intersection, or been required by design to detour from the intended route? And, why is the onus for safety fully placed on cyclists – why is there no consideration in this area to simply require motorists to slow from the 35mph limit? Imagine if the rail crossing had a 15mph limit, and had raised speed humps or ramps on both sides. Imagine if this were the design and a cyclist happened to slip out on the wet tracks – he most likely would have an interesting story to tell about how that 8,000 pound Ford F350 and trailer came pretty close but stopped just in time. As it is, the facility design and the prioritization of the motorist requires those left behind to tell Peter’s story, and that of all other cyclists who use the roadways on which they are at best a second thought. Finally, while I suspect you’re right that the driver will not be considered at fault, I hope (naively, I’m sure) the police will consider the meaning of a speed limit – that it’s the maximum speed allowed for the conditions, while lower speeds are required any time conditions dictate. I’d like to think the presence of a cyclist on a narrowing road with angled rail tracks in the rain would be such a condition. Naive, as noted.

  2. Bruce Dughi on December 20, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    Truly heartbreaking. His hand written complaint made me sad but the most gut wrenching part is the last line about worrying whether he would get home each night to have supper with his wife. These tragedies make me think more and more about my own mortality.

  3. Elaine Salinger on December 20, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    Peter really was a wonderful person. Friendly, smart, and a strong rider. He would recognize me even with wearing a helmet and glasses and always stopped to chat. It is very sad to think that we won’t cross paths again. Very sad that he worked so hard to get the police to enforce laws to protect cyclists and did not live long enough to see any changes in attitude. It is very sad.
    I will honor him during the BPAC meeting tomorrow night.

  4. Matt Turner on December 21, 2023 at 7:55 am

    Peter Grace and the hundreds of cyclists killed each year in California are why this work is so important. His suggestion to get a grand jury investigation was essential to exposing law enforcement’s systemic bias against cyclists in San Mateo County. The effort must continue.

  5. Steve Lubin on December 21, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    I was deeply touched that Peter joined me for 75 miles on my birthday ride one week before he was killed. We had a wonderful ride including the stop at the Los Altos Bagel shop shown in the photo at the head of this article. I met Peter through CVE and we had many conversations about cycling safety and enforcement of laws that protect cyclists. My birthday ride was my third ride with Peter, all filled with thought provoking conversations and wonderful friendship. I was looking forward to getting to know him better.

  6. Jim Charas on December 22, 2023 at 9:05 am

    Thank you for this thoughtful tribute to Peter. Peter was my neighbor and indeed a very gentle soul. Although I only did one short ride with him, we would discuss cycling and safety issues often. Peter was also a persistent, strong, and effective advocate for Brisbane in it challenges regarding SFO flying low and loud planes over Brisbane at all hours of the night. Rest in Peace Peter.

  7. Pat Dunn on December 28, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    I was asked recently by the author of this article to provide comments as I was one of the riders in the 10/28/20 incident video included in the article. I was asked to comment on Peter, the incident and law enforcement’s response.

    Peter – As many others have commented here and in other forums, Peter was a friendly, giving, interesting person. I did not know him well but looked forward to talking with him on rides. in one of our last conversations, we talked about our recent trips to Puglia and he gave me ideas on a future trip to London. He was a very active cyclist and a determined bike advocate. I will miss seeing Peter. My deep condolences to his family and close friends.

    10/28/20 incident – The video clearly shows what happened. We were in a group of four or five people ascending Kings Mountain Road in Woodside. We went into a single file line once we became aware of the truck coming behind us. The driver swung his truck into the opposite lane at a blind turn to pass us at an accelerating speed. By luck, the descending cyclist was not a second or two earlier for the truck would have run head on into him. The driver slowed down and yelled obscenities before again accelerating up the hill. He was very angry – whether he was upset because he thought we were in his way, upset with himself for the situation he caused or is just an angry person, who knows?

    Law enforcement response – Begrudgingly looked into it. There are several emails from late 2020 where a few people tried to get a proper law enforcement response. This basically went nowhere as It is clear that law enforcement does not take such incidents seriously. My suggestion then, and now, is to invite/cajole/challenge some of the local law enforcement to ride bikes with members of the cycling community up KIngs Mountain Road so they can personally experience what it is like. Ebikes could be provided for those needing them.

  8. Tony Stieber on April 16, 2024 at 2:35 pm

    Peter sounds like a wonderful person and one who would also advocate for teamwork between drivers and cyclists to make the roads safer.

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