Bounding with energy and enthusiasm, 28-year-old Lauren Sailor shakes out her short brown hair before climbing onto her bicycle and donning her helmet for another ride across town.
• Storymap of bicyclists’ survival
In September of 2013, Greg Schuler was bicycling home from yoga in the late evening when a taxi approached very close from behind. It got closer and, despite Schuler yelling so it would not hit him, within seconds the bike pedal got caught in front of the taxi’s wheel, according to Schuler. “My bicycle got pulled under the car, thankfully I didn’t,” he said. Schuler was thrown forward on the street and landed on his right shoulder. The taxi driver stopped and accused him for the collision. Schuler was injured, but is glad he had just come out of a yoga class. He has yet to resolve things with the insurance company. (Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay)
About three years ago, Thomas collided with a vehicle in the late evening as he road down Lincoln Way while working as a bike messenger. The vehicle side-swiped Thomas after it made a left-turn, and he crashed into the trunk then flipped over the vehicle. He suffered minor injuries, but continues to ride every day as a job as well as a passion. (Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay)
Lauren Sailor survived a collision with a car at Sacramento and Polk, after which she was faulted by police for following too closely. (Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay)
Steven Villarino suffered a hit and run while traveling along Columbus Street. His front wheel was struck after a vehicle turned into the lane too soon, according to Villarino. The impact jammed his front wheel in the cable car tracks, and Villarino crashed onto his shoulder and then his head. He had a helmet on, but the impact caused a broken scapula and 13 hours in an emergency trauma unit. Villarino suffered no brain damage, nor did he stop riding his bicycle. He continues to commute from the Peninsula on both CalTrain and his Trek road bicycle. (Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay)
Albert Que experienced a hit-and-run while traveling eastbound on Sloat Boulevard from San Francisco State University. A driver right-hooked him at the 19th Avenue intersection, and Que fell at the corner of the street with minor injuries. After quickly pulling himself and his bicycle out of the street, the driver was nowhere in sight. Que continues to ride daily, with his bicycle as his main form of transportation. (Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay)
Melyssa Mendoza experienced a bicycle collision while heading across Potrero Avenue on her way to work. The car opposite to her had their left turn signal on. Mendoza thought the driver saw her, but the car continued to turn and struck Mendoza. She fell over her handlebars and landed at the top of her head. Mendoza suffered a sprained neck and had nearly a year of physical therapy after the collision, but according to her, her helmet saved her life. She is currently in talks with the driver’s insurance company and continues to ride as a commuter daily in The City. (Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay)
Photos by Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay
Preparing to ride down Polk near Sacramento, Sailor pulls on her yellow reflective gloves despite the brightness of the afternoon sunshine.
The safety measures Sailor takes on her daily rides are driven by her experiences, including near misses and a few collisions with cars that outweigh her by thousands of pounds.
Earlier this year, Sailor was involved in a collision near here. A car did a “right hook” directly in front of her without signaling and Sailor crashed into it.
A male passenger turned and saw Sailor, but the driver sped off, forcing her riding companion to chase down the car and convince the driver to return to the scene of the accident to exchange information.
When the police finally arrived, they faulted Sailor for rear ending the car and following too closely, which, she said, upset her because the officer didn’t acknowledge the traumatic incident.
Sailor told SFBay she didn’t blame the driver:
“Don’t blame the victim either. These streets aren’t designed to safely accommodate two-ton vehicles who aren’t paying attention and cyclists in the same space.”
Sailor still prefers to ride everywhere instead of taking public transit because she said it makes her more independent.
The 2013 Bicycle Count Report showed a 96 percent increase in ridership since 2006 and a 14 percent increase since 2011. San Franciscans regularly complete 3,000 bike trips to the downtown area during weekdays, while the bike share program has generated 900 daily rides.
Sailor is evangelical about safety and preaches that cyclists need to obey the rules of the road and take responsibility for their own safety.
Meanwhile, The City is trying to do its part and since 2006 has conducted bicycle counts at key intersections and corridors with the goal of reducing automobile traffic by 50 percent.
Sailor told SFBay drivers need to be more aware of cyclists who they share the road with:
“They shouldn’t pass within inches of a person’s life. I wish people in the deadly vehicles would pay attention, but they don’t so I have to.”
Sailor added that drivers in The City are some of the most courteous and aware she’s encountered, but they still need to work on obeying the three-foot rule.
The three-foot rule signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013 mandates a distance of 36 inches when motorists overtake a cyclist. It’s one of the many ways San Francisco streets are slowly getting safer for cyclists like Sailor.