A work of fiction inspired by recent events.
San Francisco’s bike lane network is paved with blood. Last Tuesday, Steven Buccini made his contribution to its slow but inexorable progress. He had just turned 26 years old. A bus hit Steven as he rode rode his bike home, near the corner of Sixth and Mission. He died right there in the street like a dog, among the homeless and the human feces and the hypodermic needles.
No one would call Steven a cyclist. His freshman year of college, he bought a nice bike with every intention of joining the Bay Area cycling cult, realized that the terrain was just too damn hilly, and rarely rode it again. The bike is still sitting in a box at his parent’s house in North Carolina. But when Steven moved back to San Francisco for a brief fellowship, something clicked. Maybe it was one too many soul-sucking commutes on MUNI. Maybe it was the expense of Ubering around the city. Maybe he just needed an adrenaline fix while he adjusted to the 9-5 grind after ski bumming for several months. Whatever the case might be, he borrowed a bike from a coworker and started riding the only way he knew how – hard and fast.
Steven knew the risks. Just a week earlier, at a fundraiser for a SF District Attorney candidate, Steven asked if they would prosecute motorists who strike pedestrians and cyclists, joking that he probably wouldn’t make to Election Day to hold him to his promise. He joked with friends about the best ways to chirp at drivers stopped in the bike lane. And he logged every ride on Strava, noting whenever he had a close call on his commute.
In a poetic twist, his death was caused by the same company that gave him life in Silicon Valley – Uber. A driver suddenly stopped into Steven’s lane to drop off a rider. Having no time to brake, Steven instinctively swerved into the other lane, where he was hit by a bus. Paramedics pronounced him dead on the scene.
We know what comes next. The blood will be washed off the pavement in time for the morning commute. A protected bike lane will suddenly appear along the route Steven was riding. A ghost bike will stand vigil. Mayor Breed will be re-elected. And no one will go to jail.