The Chronicle’s Story

Bike Messenger Killed In Downtown S.F. Crash
2nd death in week raises safety issue

  • By Peter Fimrite, Monique Fields, Chronicle Staff Writers
  • Annotation by E-Media (in bold)

    A bicycle messenger was struck and killed by a delivery van on Market Street yesterday — the second fatal bicycle accident this week in downtown San Francisco.

    It was not a delivery van. It was a Decaux toilet/billboard/newpaperstand van. The Chronicle had 24 nearly hours to sort this out. The Examiner, which had less time, got it right.

    The two deaths have cast a shadow over tonight’s monthly Critical Mass ride through the city. Many cyclists who have participated in earlier Critical Mass rides have called for safety improvements in the downtown area.

    Casey Moe, 25, a popular messenger nicknamed “Area Code,” was riding east on Market Street at 8:15 a.m. yesterday when he attempted to cross the westbound lanes onto Sansome Street, according to police and witnesses.

    No policeman saw this.

    San Francisco police Sergeant Mike Mahoney said the preliminary investigation indicates Moe either did not see the van or thought he could beat it across the roadway.

    No policeman saw this. Certainly, no one can intuit what Mr. Moe did or did not see or was or was not thinking.

    The van slammed into the bicyclist, and Moe “flew in the air about 15 to 20 feet,” Mahoney said. He landed head first on the curb with his head against a newsstand, according to witnesses, about 30 of whom rushed to the scene after the accident and began frantically calling for help.

    Unnamed witnesses.

    Moe was not wearing a helmet.

    Absolutely false

    Moe was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where he died at 4 p.m., according to hospital spokeswoman Gloria Rodriguez.

    “It’s tragic, and it’s really frustrating,” said Adam Gubser, assistant bicycle program manager for the city’s Department of Parking and Traffic. “Unfortunately, the harsh reality of being a bicyclist is that when you get into a fender- bender, you’re under the tires.”


    The driver of the van, William Gamarra, 27, of Millbrae, was driving on a suspended license, according to officer John Fulwood, but he apparently did not break any traffic laws and was not cited. He was given a blood test, but the results were not available yesterday.

    What were the results of the test?


    The tragedy followed the death on Monday of Pauline Caluya, 25, who fell off her bicycle and into the path of a moving van after her tires got stuck in a metal ventilation grate for Muni and BART trains.

    Ted Strawser of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition said bike safety has always been an issue in the city but is being noticed for the first time because of the attention focused on Critical Mass.

    “These are not isolated incidents,” Strawser said. “There’s a real problem in this city. It shows the city’s failure to address the problems with the transportation system.”


    Some bicycle advocates are pushing for the closure of Market Street from Van Ness Avenue eastward.

    San Francisco has averaged two or three fatal bicycle accidents a year since 1992. Last year there were two fatalities in the city and 203 reported injuries from bicycle accidents, according to state statistics. That’s down from five deaths and 389 injuries in 1994.

    Statistics for this year were not available, but the two deaths this week were believed to be the first of the year.

    The second and third this year

    Portland, Ore., a city of comparable size where bicycles are very popular, averages about 150 bicycle accidents a year and between one and three fatalities, according to city officials. Sacramento has had two bicycle fatalities this year, according to local police.


    “It just shows the importance that bicyclists should obey traffic laws,” said Fulwood, who stood on the street corner where the accident occurred yesterday and pointed out two other bicyclists who made the same illegal left turn that Moe did within five minutes of each other.

    Officer Fulwood was also not a witness.

    “That’s why we’re cracking down on them,” Fulwood said. “We’re doing this for their own safety.”

    Doing what? Who asked you about “cracking down?”

    Moe, who has a 4-year-old son and has worked for Aero Special Delivery for about 10 months, was described by co-workers and his bosses as friendly and hard-working. He was called “Area Code” because his identification number was 415.

    Moe’s son just turned one. He is not four years old.

    “He was a very excellent messenger. He was one of the better bicycle messengers out here,” said Cat Hanx, a fellow messenger for Aero.

    “We’re very, very depressed here,” said Kirk Sparks, chief executive officer for Aero. “Its a strange thing. We’ve been in business for over 50 years and have never had a fatality. He was one of the finest messengers we have.”

    Contributions may be sent to the Casey Moe Fund, care of the San Francisco Fire Department Credit Union, P.O. Box 419020, San Francisco, Calif., 94141, Attention Michelle.

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