Bicyclists Rally at SF City Hall on Heels of Death

SAN FRANCISCO -- More than 300 bicyclists observed a moment of silence at San Francisco City Hall today in memory of several people killed riding their bikes, including one less than three hours before the rally.

The noon event was originally scheduled so bicyclists could express their outrage about a reduction in charges against a truck driver who ran over and killed bicyclist Chris Robertson in November of last year. In that case, the San Francisco District Attorney's Office reduced charges of involuntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon against the driver, Rueben Espinoza, to misdemeanor offenses.

This afternoon's event, however, took an even grimmer note once everyone found out about a 24-year-old woman who was killed at 9:11 a.m. this morning while riding her bike near Oak and Franklin streets.

Supervisor Chris Daly, who said he commuted by bicycle until he was "gored'' two years ago, addressed the crowd and told them, "Your rage and anger is righteous. Don't let anyone tell you it's not. It just needs to be organized.''

The crowd applauded and rang their bells for Daly, who was dressed in sneakers and khaki pants, when he called on other supervisors to support a ban on cellular phone use while driving.

When Supervisor Mark Leno appeared, he promised to support bicycle parking in all new buildings and said the entire city could do with less rage. But the crowd started yelling swear words at Leno, who was dressed in a grey suit and red tie, until he left the steps of City Hall and walked back inside the building.

"This is a horror we're experiencing, an epidemic of disrespect,'' Leno shouted through a megaphone before leaving the rally. "The prescription is some basic courtsey.''

Today's rally is precursor to the monthly Critical Mass protest, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. today at Justin Herman Plaza.

Source: KTVU/Fox2 and Bay City News

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