Bay Area bicyclists mourn 2 victims killed in hit-and-run crashes

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Two San Francisco bicyclists who were killed in separate hit-and-run crashes less than a week ago were honored and remembered Tuesday night with a memorial bike ride.

The event started at Golden Gate Park where the first deadly incident happened and ended South of Market, where the second hit-and-run took place less than three hours later.

"I knew it would be OK to have feelings and it would be good to ride together," said Rachel Jacobson, who traveled from her Oakland home to San Francisco for the event. 

The two separate incidents seemed to unite members of the local bicycling community, many of whom have had their own close calls with vehicles.&

"It feels like it would be a space to have feelings and to be with people who know how I feel," said Jacobson. 

They rode to the spot where Heather Miller, 41, was killed while riding her bike and lit candles. The group gathered around a white bicycle that was chained to a post.

"It really hit home," said Mike Kramer of San Francisco "These are routes that I take every day." 

A few hours and a few miles away from where Miller was killed, Katherine Slattery, 26, suffered the same fate while riding in the South of Market neighborhood that same night. 

Photos of the vibrant young woman are reminders of a life cut short suddenly and senselessly.

Said Kramer: "Definitely stunned (and) sad." It was "completely avoidable," he said.

Bicyclists say this mode of transportation is affordable but many say losing a life is a price no one should have to pay.

"I've been biking for two years and I've gotten into three accidents," said cyclist Jessica Chan. "Two were by car and one by myself." 

The San Francisco resident says her most recent accident happened just three months ago when she was hit by car. She says she's lucky that she survived without serious injuries. But the deaths of the two bicyclists are a reminder to take extra precautions in order to avoid serious injury or death.

"Now I wear a vest (and) I wear a helmet," Chan said. "I've gone through four helmets."

Bicyclists say each life lost during a collision with a vehicle is one too many.

"It's just happening too often so (we) need to do something about it," said Alanur Kurtkan, another bicyclist who says she often rides the same route that one of the victims used. 

People at the event tell KTVU they hope to raise awareness about the importance for drivers and bicyclists to share the road.