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San Francisco set to pay out $9M for cycling crash at infamous street bump

A road bump is seen on a street.
A bump was allegedly caused by a repair needed on Clay Street in San Francisco due to a water leak in August 2022. | Source: Courtesy Coopers LLP

San Francisco is set to pay out $9 million to a cyclist who suffered permanent "life-altering" injuries after a crash involving an infamous bump on a city Slow Street.

San Francisco resident Mason Masuda, who worked for the robotaxi firm Cruise as a technical project manager at the time of the incident, sued the city after the crash on Clay Street on Aug. 7, 2022.

The city's proposed settlement offers Masuda $9 million, whereas four others injured by the bump have sued for well under $1 million, including Ralph Bowers, CEO of The Melt burger chain. Bowers broke three ribs and his collarbone in the fall.

City officials did not respond to The Standard's questions about the status of the lawsuits.

A shirtless man in a hospital, showing his bruised side and back. He wears a mask and sits on the bed.
Ralph Bower, the CEO of burger chain The Melt, hit the bump on Clay Street while riding his bike, sending him over the handlebars. | Source: Courtesy Ralph Bower

While the city has yet to approve the $9 million, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin said the city rarely disagrees with settlement amounts decided by the city attorney.

Peskin said he was surprised about the size of the settlement for a personal injury claim but could not comment further until he has reviewed it.

"I haven't seen payouts like this even for wrongful deaths," Peskin said.

And Peskin isn't wrong. Some wrongful death payouts from the city include $3.25 million to the family of Sean Moore, who was killed by SFPD officer Kenneth Cha in 2017 while he was standing in front of his home; $2.94 million to the family and estate of Lynne Spalding Ford, a San Francisco General Hospital patient who went missing in September 2014 and was found dead in a hospital stairwell weeks later; and $2.5 million to the family of Keita O'Neil, who was killed by rookie SFPD officer Christopher Samayoa in 2017.

The Board of Supervisors isn't expected to vote on Masuda's settlement until a Feb. 27 meeting, at the earliest, according to legislative aide Melissa Hernandez.

According to Masuda's lawsuit, the city was repairing a leak at 3245 Clay St. and the bump was put in during the repairs.

Masuda was riding home from the Outside Lands music festival in Golden Gate Park at around 10 p.m. the night he was hurt. His parents, Donald and Linda Masuda, said the crash left their son unconscious and bleeding from both sides of his head, they told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The suit further alleges that the bump was impossible to avoid and was inadequately marked with no signage, creating a significant hazard to cyclists on Clay Street, a designated "Slow Street," a street that should only allow cyclists, pedestrians and limited vehicle traffic for street residents.

A biker rides down a street.
Bikers and walkers use Clay Street, one of the city’s Slow Streets, in 2022. | Source: Camille Cohen

READ MORE: Ambitious ‘People’s Slow Streets’ Proposal Calls for Changes to 100 Miles of SF Roadways

"Despite the knowledge that Clay Street is primarily a bicycle route and that a defect in the road could cause injury to cyclists, the [city] made a faulty repair of the roadway that resulted in a large invisible man-made obstacle on the road
26 spanning the entirety of the street," the suit states.

The suit goes on to allege that several city departments were aware of the dangerous bump and failed to report it to each other. Departments being sued include the Department of Public Works, the SF Public Utilities Commission and San Francisco Water Power Sewer, as well as the City and County of San Francisco.

The bump appeared on Aug. 3, 2022, and it was removed on Aug. 11, according to a City Attorney's Office spokesperson.

Masuda is demanding damages for past and future lost income, past or future medical expenses and damages for loss of enjoyment of life and emotional distress. The suit does not specify the total amount sought and does not list line items for the damages.

Masuda's attorney, Roger Dreyer, declined to comment on behalf of his client due to the settlement awaiting approval. Public Works and the city utilities commission declined to comment. Masuda and his parents could not be reached for comment.

"We believe the proposed settlement is an appropriate resolution given the inherent costs of continued litigation," a City Attorney's Office spokesperson said.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at