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Family of crash victim "did not believe sending him to jail would do anything"...

A San Francisco cyclist who killed a 71-year-old pedestrian while trying to break his own speed record for a stretch of road will be sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service and three years probation after pleading guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter, according to reports from the US.

Chris Bucchere, 37, was riding downhill when he hit Sutchi Hui at an intersection in San Francisco’s Castro District on March 29, 2012. Hui died of his injuries four days later.

Witnesses said Bucchere had ridden through two red lights before reaching the junction where Mr Hui was crossing. In an online posting after the collision, someone believed to be Bucchere said the light had turned yellow as he approached but he had been unable to stop.

“I was already way too committed to stop,” he wrote. “The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions... I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.”

His use of Strava also stood against Bucchere, who had initially pleaded not guilty to vehicular manslaughter. “It implies he was trying to compete with himself.” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón told Forbes magazine.

“The level of negligence made this case rise above the level of an accident,” he said. Bucchere’s having run a red light before hitting Mr Hui was  the “tie breaker” between prosecuting the case as a felony or a misdemeanor, he said.

“Mr. Bucchere has been held accountable to a historic level,” Gascón said. “What he did deserved prosecution. This is about sending a clear message about prevention.”

That Bucchere ran a red light before striking Hui was the “tie breaker” between prosecuting the case as a felony or a misdemeanor, said Gascón.

Strava and video evidence from the scene indicated Bucchere was travelling at about 30 mph when he struck Mr Hui.

Bucchere escaped a jail sentence in part because Mr Hui’s son “made it very clear he did not believe sending Mr. Bucchere (to jail) would do anything for the community,” Gascón said.

Prosecuters nevertheless pressed for a felony conviction in negotiating a plea agreement with Bucchere to “send a very clear message” to cyclists.

“Having a felony conviction was important to us,” Gascón said. “We would have gone to trial if they had not agreed to a felony conviction.”

After six months that severity of the conviction may be reduced to a misdemeanour if a judge rules that Bucchere has been abiding by the terms of his sentence.

Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian advocacy group, told KQED she considers cars to pose far greater risk to pedestrians than cyclists.

“Walk San Francisco thinks it’s important that there be a penalty for endangering or killing other people on the streets,” Stampe said, “and in that sense the day’s action here sets an important precedent for the three people a day who get hit by cars in San Francisco, which is really far more common than this unusual bicyclist case. We hope this will set a precedent for the many people who are killed by drivers on our streets every year.”

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

26 comments

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GerardR [127 posts] 3 years ago
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Sounds like a fair judgement, with a remarkable degree of charity and pragmatism on the part of the victim's son.

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Leviathan [2276 posts] 3 years ago
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Quote:

“I was already way too committed to stop,” he wrote. “The light turned red as I was cruising through the middle of the intersection and then, almost instantly, the southern crosswalk on Market and Castro filled up with people coming from both directions... I couldn’t see a line through the crowd and I couldn’t stop, so I laid it down and just plowed through the crowded crosswalk in the least-populated place I could find.”

A similar thing happened to me once on Deansgate Manchester. I was barreling along and saw the lights flick to yellow just as I crossed the line; then a whole horde of pedestrians stepped out across the other side of the junction forcing me to jam on the brakes. I stopped just in time. I was luck I saw the light, was on the flat, was doing 30 kph not 30 mph. But it still seems a group of pedestrians will step out before the lights have turned and ignore a cyclists right of way and safety if there are enough of them. And I presume I would have got the blame if there was an accident.

HOWEVER < note the capitals
The red light jumping and Strava use negate however pausible an excuse this is. Its pretty clear this guy would be a bad driver if you put him in a metal box. Punish the crime not the vehicle, shame he got away so lightly, as so many drivers do here.

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 3 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Its pretty clear this guy would be a bad driver if you put him in a metal box. Punish the crime not the vehicle, shame he got away so lightly, as so many drivers do here.

I do not think anyone can judge his driving ability on the back of this story, he was clearly in "strava" mode while cycling. As I've seen with many people, the get addicted to taking KOM's and less aware about safety.

As for the punishment, I think thats a HUGE deterrent for this sort of act. 1000 hours of community service is a massive task to dish out. Lets just say he has a full time job and could pump out 20 community service hours a week (highly unlikely) it would still take him almost a year to work it off. More likely he will manage 10 hours, taking two years of doing things for the community, just like the victims family wanted, rather than a jail sentence.

I don't know how the laws differ over these, but I would say he'd get maybe 5 years here, out in 2 1/2....

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Beaufort [270 posts] 3 years ago
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Mmm...Mr. Bucchere was clearly negligent resulting in the death of a pedestrian. He was racing on the road, a stupid ting to do by any estimation. He was not considering anyone else other than himself. Just as careless as Mr. Cox in the Dowling case, and it is that carelessness that has cost a life, again.

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Critchio [193 posts] 3 years ago
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Where's all the rants and raves???

I know its a different country to the UK, different laws, different attitudes perhaps, but I find it rather sad that you guys have not responded with the same venom, anger, rage and witch hunt mentality that has been offered previously when a car driver takes the life of a cyclist.

I also get that vehicle drivers, under UK law, have a higher duty of care towards vulnerable road users, be it foot pedestrians or cyclists. After all, car drivers are in a 1.5 ton metal cocoon surrounded by airbags.

But, this cyclist behaved in a deliberately dangerous manner while under the obsession of a Strava segment and he killed another person by slamming into them at 30mph. he should have gone to prison and be banned from cycling for life, surely?

Then I see the lack of (unpleasant) rants and raves about how the punishment was weak, the justice system being crap, how we should appeal the sentence en-masse, and the bad taste jokes about licensed assassination's, free kills, etc.

I'm disappointed. You guys are a fickle lot.

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Al__S [1083 posts] 3 years ago
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Critchio is right. If this was a driver we'd be demanding his bollocks be nailed to the wall.

This guy should be in prison. Along with all the drivers who carelessly or recklessly kill cyclists and pedestrians. No excuses.

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billyman [148 posts] 3 years ago
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"the law is an ass me Lord"

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qwerky [184 posts] 3 years ago
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bikeboy76 wrote:

Punish the crime not the vehicle, shame he got away so lightly, as so many drivers do here.

Totally agree, ran a red light and killed someone. 1000 hours is a lot of community service, but I think he's lucky to escape jail.

On the side, I'm not convinced on the Strava side of the story. Did he admit he was racing to beat his time? Or are people just assuming "oh he's on Strava, he must be racing"?

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YorkshireMike [91 posts] 3 years ago
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I personally don't bother with inner-city segments. I ride to/from Manchester every day and the amount of lights I hit and traffic/pedestrians there are means the only time they're worth trying to KOM is at 2am... not for me thanks.

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lolol [203 posts] 3 years ago
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If its "Rants and raves" you want, I read about this in the Guardian, the comments were extremely anti cyclist, starting with red light runners through to why oh why dont they just have number plates. The thing I noticed is that the commenters mostly fully believed that cyclists are causing death and destruction in a rampage of anarchy, which was a bit depressing

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Stumps [3415 posts] 3 years ago
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Critchio wrote:

Where's all the rants and raves???

I know its a different country to the UK, different laws, different attitudes perhaps, but I find it rather sad that you guys have not responded with the same venom, anger, rage and witch hunt mentality that has been offered previously when a car driver takes the life of a cyclist.

I also get that vehicle drivers, under UK law, have a higher duty of care towards vulnerable road users, be it foot pedestrians or cyclists. After all, car drivers are in a 1.5 ton metal cocoon surrounded by airbags.

But, this cyclist behaved in a deliberately dangerous manner while under the obsession of a Strava segment and he killed another person by slamming into them at 30mph. he should have gone to prison and be banned from cycling for life, surely?

Then I see the lack of (unpleasant) rants and raves about how the punishment was weak, the justice system being crap, how we should appeal the sentence en-masse, and the bad taste jokes about licensed assassination's, free kills, etc.

I'm disappointed. You guys are a fickle lot.

Totally agree with you however despite the lack of condemnation i think i speak for most on here to say he sould go to prison as its no different from any other collision where the driver / rider is responsible for the death of another.

And we as cyclists should set a better example so the likes of the Guardian dont write crap about us. If we act responsibly then the public cant criticise.

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Animal [41 posts] 3 years ago
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He probably would get 5 years over here.

Unless he'd done the same thing with a motor vehicle. Then it would be the same result.

Either way, he *should* get 5 years. Utterly reckless and irresponsible. A danger to public safety.

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Mr Agreeable [174 posts] 3 years ago
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stumps wrote:

[we as cyclists should set a better example so the likes of the Guardian dont write crap about us. If we act responsibly then the public cant criticise.

Yer right. There would still be cyclists doing things like not wearing helmets and hi-viz, riding two abreast in lycra like a bunch of perverts, or not paying road tax.

The fact that we're all hand-wringing over an extremely unusual accidental death 5,000 miles across the Atlantic shows what a bunch of pernicious crap this collective responsibility nonsense is. It's time to drop it and focus on the positives.

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John Stevenson [255 posts] 3 years ago
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Animal wrote:

He *should* get 5 years. Utterly reckless and irresponsible. A danger to public safety.

In these cases it's clear that courts take into account the feelings of the deceased's family and in this case, as in the recent non-custodial sentence of Brian Dorling's killer, the family was strongly opposed to him going to jail.

Much as we all love to rant, me as much as anyone, I think if those closest to a tragedy think there should be no jail time for the perpetrator, that's worthy of respect.

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Yorkshie Whippet [554 posts] 3 years ago
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Rants and raves?

1. He admitted to a felony rather than blame the pedestrain for moving too slow or that he looked up and don't see the pedestrian, unlike most of the car drivers.
2. The son asked for him not to go to prison.
3. 1000hr is a bloody long time to work for nowt. Unlike prison, free board and three meals a day.

Justice was sort and served in this case. What is there to rant about?

How do you ban someone from cycling for life when the police/courts can not physically stop a banned driver from driving?

Oh sorry, I am feeding the troll?

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Cantab [101 posts] 3 years ago
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I think justice has been served here. The family did not want him to go to jail, his punishment of 1000 hours is quite a tariff to pay, and all the while he will still be having to work, pay tax etc. rather than being a drain on tax receipts and being permanently criminalised (thus why it can be downgraded from a misdemeanour).

At the end of the day, what he did was stupid, reckless and negligent, but it wasn't malicious. While road.cc has plenty of the 'lock 'em up and throw away the key' brigade, with respect to drivers, I can't see how that benefits anyone in the cases of negligence or incompetence. Fines, community service and lifetime/long term driving bans, yes. Prison, no. And the same as other rules of the road apply to us as cyclists, so should the penalties; and of course enforcement has to be equal too...

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eurotrash [88 posts] 3 years ago
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Seems to me he should get a "ban" from cycling (not sure how that could be enforced) in the same way drivers should get a ban from driving when they cause death through carelessness. Not sure how putting them in prison will do anything for anyone. I don't see trying to beat your strava record in city streets as particularly dangerous, so long as you don't do stupid shit like jumping red lights and otherwise flouting the laws of the road... which this guy did, and if he didn't kill someone he might have been killed himself.

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pepita1 [176 posts] 3 years ago
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Not going to jail means one less mouth to feed by the state.

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dino [60 posts] 3 years ago
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The only difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits... The punishment fits and there are not any stipulations for being stupid. It's sad to have a citizen lose his or her life to an oxygen thief... Perhaps he could better serve the community out of jail, that remains to be seen. Additionally, this was just the criminal action, a civil case will likely follow against the guilty party and potentially the city of SF.

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John Stevenson [255 posts] 3 years ago
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dino - I'm genuinely curious as to what cause of action against the city you think arises here?

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 3 years ago
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To me, without knowing anymore than I have read above. It sounds like the lights changing timing was ALL wrong, that could be the only case against the city.

If he was cycling through at amber and going at a rate of speed to kill someone. The lights for the ped's had changed to allow them to cross to soon in my eyes...

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John Stevenson [255 posts] 3 years ago
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Gkam84 - that he'd already run two red lights to get there probably absolves the city of that responsibility, though?

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Gkam84 [9092 posts] 3 years ago
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Nope, because if his story is right, he didn't run a red light on the junction where he hit the ped

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John Stevenson [255 posts] 3 years ago
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Ah I see where you're coming from now. Too many lights in this situation for my tiny brain.

I wonder what the speed limit is there? I've been to US towns where it's 25 or even 15 mph, so the city might say that anyone not speeding and paying due attention would be able to stop, esp as car stopping distances are shorter than bikes.

And, of course, it's not unusual for pedestrians to jump the lights, the little scamps.

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ch [188 posts] 3 years ago
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At the advanced age of 37 it is pretty shameful riding. I hope for that light sentence he admitted fault.

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timtak [48 posts] 2 years ago
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Tragic. A man died.

It was, above all, in my opinion, very forgiving of his son. I admire this son. A lot of people would want retribution (or in other words, perhaps, revenge) but this son did not (my heart goes out to your forgiveness).

Any sort of criminal record can do really bad things to a life. If the cyclist lost his job, for instance, I think it will be difficult for the cyclist to be re-employed. So, combined, with the 1000 hours of work, this is not a small sentence.

But a man died.

I see two issues.

The issue of this culprit and this individual case. Perhaps the 1000 hours is punishment enough.

But what is even more at stake, imho, is the issue of repeatability, and its deterrent. It seems to me that racing on public roads, using this and similar website/systems, is going to be, in the future a problem. I foresee that there will be other deaths.

I think that in some point in the future, at least, it would be a good idea to come down hard, with a stiffer sentence, as a deterrent.

Legislation limiting the ability to access a system showing an asynchronous, geostationary race, at least in built up areas, might also be appropriate.

It is, or will be, possible, to see, on the screen of a smart phone, where one stands in respect of other virtual, asynchronous competitors as one rides. That is to say that one could, in terms of the technology available, see the position of oneself, and the riders that one wants to beat (oneself and or others) on the screen of a smart phone as one rides, like Mario Kart in real time on the virtual road. At least, this will become possible. It will become possible to see a whole peleton of competing, virtual, asynchronous riders as one rides. Thus, as well as the motivation towards recklessness -- riding as if one were on a road that has been cordoned off for a road race -- it also encourages riders to watch their smart phone screens rather than the road.

I have just started using an asynchronous race system of this type. It is very powerfully motivating, good for my health, and I love it. It's affects are also somewhat dangerous.