Cops Prey on Market Street Cyclists

Categories: bikes
Barney Fife.jpg
Cyclists beware!
It's the mark of a crappy day when you receive a moving violation before sipping your first cup of coffee. Cyclists along the Market-Van Ness corridor have thus been marked.

A phalanx of motorcycle cops this morning greeted bicycle riders with reminders about the difference between red lights and green lights and hefty citations ($123 -- ouch!). Police spokesman Officer Carlos Manfredi notes this is for the cyclists' own good, as there has, purportedly, been a marked increase in accidents throughout the city due to light-running cyclists. The San Francisco Police Department was unable to immediately provide this data.

Manfredi described today's action as "a bicycle enforcement." Your humble narrator witnessed five officers methodically writing up citations for at least that many cyclists. "What's the problem?" we asked one bike rider awaiting his punishment. "I ran through a walk signal," he replied. "No, it was a red light," the cop interjected. "A red light. It was a red light," the cyclist admitted.

Bicycle enforcements along Market are not uncommon; last month fixie-riders without handbrakes and other two-wheeled miscreants were cited at Fifth and Market.

While light-running is the ostensible cause of today's action, lesser activities will get you in trouble as well. One rider told SF Weekly he'd been popped for wearing ear buds in both ears. 

Manfredi said this is an "ongoing campaign" that will target "hot zones" throughout the city this month.

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Marc Salomon
Marc Salomon

We need to be directing scarce enforcement resources towards interventions that have proven nexus to increased public safety.  The DPH should inform SFPD enforcement and then enforcement should be evaluated against public health outcomes. 

This anecdotal crap has no place in this debate, nor does inflexible adherence to the letter of the law.  The last thing that will make the streets safer is the approach of the stern father that so many conservatives seek.

If the data show that bicycle violations are leading to injuries and deaths, then they should be enforced.  But I think that we all know that the data will show that motorist violations are those most closely related to injury and death.  The SFPD avoids allowing observed, empirical reality to dictate its work plan, preferring to rely on anecdote and prejudice as usual.

We can't afford to allow the mostly suburban commuter and conservative SFPD to call its own work plan without civilian, political oversight.  And the last thing that cyclists need is for the SFBC to be calling for increased enforcement against cyclists without any basis on DPH data.  Let the SF Car Coalition make that case, not the SF Bicycle Coalition,okay?

leigh
leigh

This anecdotal crap as you so put it, is based on people's experiences on the streets and sidewalks of SF.  And this inflexible adherence to the letter of the law speaks to your own inflexible adherence that bicyclists can do no wrong, shouldn't have to follow and the law.  The data you are asking for related to death and injuries does not mean that bicyclists should not have to follow the laws the same as other moving vehicles.  You are so caught up in your goal of having a bicycle only city, that you are not willing to even hear any other perspectives.  So much so that you are in denial. Talk about inflexible.  

Eisarmee
Eisarmee

heres the thing. lots of cars dont allow cyclists to take up the full lane. this is neccesary, no debate there- parked cars open their doors which can be lethal. the problem is, many cars are idiots, and they beep or tailgate a cyclist. at a red light, if a cyclist wants to avoid being chased down by cars hellbent on getting to work 10 seconds earlier, they should run the red light if safe after looking both ways to give themselves a headstart.

Msinhbandith
Msinhbandith

Both earbuds? Do cops know that the IPhone's headset has two earbuds?

Briansays
Briansays

and how many of these entitled punks have no health insurance so when they get hit the public has to pick up their medical care costs?

i'd venture 80 percent or so

Virginia
Virginia

Cops "prey" on cyclists? Give me a break. They cited cyclists who broke the law. That's a good thing and makes the streets safer for all of us.

beezaft
beezaft

While spending 2 weeks in Europe this summer (London. Belgium and Paris) I learned that the majority of things that people hate cyclists for doing here, are the things they encourage cyclists to do there.  The exception being, running red lights.   One way street?  Bicycles excepted.  Too much traffic?  Just hop your bike up on the sidewalk, no problem.  On Market St. cyclists shouldn't be running red lights.  But there are way too many instances around the bay area where cars and pedestrians can change traffic lights in an instant, either by just showing up, or by pressing a button.  Cyclists can either wait for a car to show up beside them, or dismount and become a pedestrian.... or, "run a red light" which wouldn't exist if they were a car or a pedestrian.   I wonder why they run so many red lights??

Marc Salomon
Marc Salomon

Unless you've got the statistics to prove that cyclists on the sidewalks are a public health threat to pedestrians, please cease making that claim.  The data show that motorists operating illegally in the streets are orders of magnitude more dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists alike than cyclists riding illegally on the sidewalk pose a danger to pedestrians.

Julia Mae Thies
Julia Mae Thies

how about the statistic that in the 3 years I have lived in this city I have been hit, nearly hit or knocked down to avoid being hit by cyclists at least 50 times? That doesn't count the amount of times I have had to step into traffic to avoid being hit by a redlight running cyclist in the crosswalk or the amount of times I wasn't hit but my Service Dog has, she has been hit by cyclists on the sidewalk at least 10 times and again that many times in the crosswalk. in comparison the dog has been hit one time in a crosswalk by a car (very lightly as the woman tried hard to stop in time) and never been hit by a car on the sidewalk. I myself have never been hit by a car but my ex was during this same 3 years. So even if you count my ex being hit once and the dog once by cars that equals 2 times of being hit by a car in 3 years compared to 50 times of being hit/nearly hit (where I had to jump into traffic or something equally dangerous to avoid collision) by cyclists myself and 20+ times for my Service Dog. I can't give you national statistics but my own personal experience is enough data for me to say I am at least 25 times more likely to be hit by a cyclist breaking the law than any car doing so...a car would be more likely to be traumatic but at least one time my dog was almost hit she would have been killed if she hadn't been yanked into traffic to safety. and like someone else on here mentioned, the cyclists seem to have some smug superiority on their face when they fly by clipping my shoulder. Unlike cars, cyclists also don't have identifying marks/licenses so to identify them in a hit and run (like cars have license plates) and even if you do stick around after hitting me, who is going to pay my medical bills? do you have liability insurance while you are out putting my life at risk riding on the sidewalk and blowing through my crosswalk at 30 mph against the red light??

JackQuack
JackQuack

Slow down, slow down, slow down.  'Two weeks in Europe' does not make you an expert on their cycling habits, and if you are going to advise cyclists here to 'hop your bike up on the sidewalk', then be prepared to accept responsibility for injured pedestrians.  This bike-on-the-sidewalk has, in Paris, become an issue on contention leading to physical and legal fights.  It is NOT legal to ride on the sidewalk!

If you jump to conclusions like this after two weeks in Europe, then I can't imagine that you wait for very long at a stop sign.

IMO, the problem is that cyclists consider themselves as vulnerable as pedestrians on the streets.  However, that does not give them the right to OWN the road, to the detriment of pedestrians and motorists alike. 

The_Pony
The_Pony

I'm sorry that other's safety takes a back seat to your convenience.

Prinzrob
Prinzrob

Does anyone here know if there is a bicycle ticket diversion program in SF, similar to the one that is just about to be implemented by the UC Berkeley PD? It allows ticketed cyclists to take a safety class and have their fine reduced to just $50. I think this is a great idea, as it provides an opportunity to educate and inform the cyclists about their rights and responsibilities on the road, without taking too much money out of their pockets and discouraging them from biking altogether.

T_chia
T_chia

Bikes, pedestrians, cars, buses, cabs and shopping cart purshers all share the streets so we all need to follow the rules.

s b
s b

Sorry but no one is getting "preyed" on.  Just recently, a woman died after a cyclist hit her. Asking cyclists to observe a basic safety law is not "preying" on them. I bike in the streets all the time and only a fool takes chances with red lights.  My skin and bones vs. 3000 lbs of moving metal is no match.

s3
s3

SFPD please come to the lower haight and keep the wigglers in check

____
____

Sweet!  I just wished I was there to enjoy the sight, it would've gone well with my cup of peets!

Cycler
Cycler

As a resident of SF of 15+ yrs, I experience constant threats from CARS, not bicycles. The cyclist who caused the death of a pedestrian deserves admonishment/punishment. I drive and bicycle in SF and the worst offenders on the road are car drivers... admittedly most of those cars don't have SF parking permits on their bumper. Why don't the police ticket cars that don't give cyclists use of the full lane? Why don't police ticket cars that take right turns at red lights even though there are pedestrians present? Why don't police/dpt ticket the vehicles parked (illegally btw) IN the bicycle lane? For all you haters in cars, I brake for bicyclists and motorcyclists and will use my car to protect them from your hateful disrespectful driving.

Eisarmee
Eisarmee

i do have a sense of superiority when riding my bike. i am not contributing to the destruction of the earth. drivers need to recognize that the ten seconds or so it takes to respectfully not inpinge on cyclists space literally translates to the cyclists life. drivers who are frustrated with being stuck at stop signs & red lights when cyclists so often run through should not take out their aggression on all cyclists.

Tony T.
Tony T.

Yeah, yeah, "us vs. them."  That's the attitude that solves nothing.  The majority of cyclists in this town don't obey traffic laws, and if you ride in the city as you say you do (I commute by bike here daily) you know this as well as I do.  This situation makes it more dangerous for everyone.  Yeah, there are lousy drivers too, loads of 'em, I couldn't agree more with that.  But vilifying the car drivers while the majority of cyclists  keep ignoring the rules of the road just gets us nowhere. 

mattymatt
mattymatt

"The majority of cyclists in this town don't obey traffic laws"

citation needed

Marc Salomon
Marc Salomon

It is rarely safe to hand signal given the deteriorated quality of many roadways, the potential for debris, and the need to maintain control at speed in the case that a driver does something stupid.  I only do hand signals when the pavement is in good shape or when I'm merging left to make a turn, and then it is very quickly as my hands belong on the handle bars.

mattymatt
mattymatt

Okay, they're out there, but the MAJORITY?

Virginia
Virginia

I call BS on mattymatt. I work at Market & Van Ness and see numerous cyclists on the sidewalk and riding in the crosswalks everyday. Also see cylists running red lights on Market every day, running stop signs on Page every day.

The_Pony
The_Pony

You are willfully ignorant or blissfully unaware. And your attitude does nothing towards helping your cause.

Christian Holmes
Christian Holmes

@mattymatt:disqus you must be riding in a different part of the city than @4616baf931ab9d972064d4568bcbaea9:disqus and I do. All of the major cycling corridors (Market, Valencia, 17th, the Wiggle) are teeming with light-running and stop-sign-ignoring cyclists.

Sure, a few of us linger behind and shake our heads, watching their un-helmeted heads riding away, but there's always one. Not a good ratio in a city with thousands of intersections.

Even more frustrating are the looks of supremacy they give you as they speed away, acting as if you're letting cars win by following traffic laws. For that reason, I'm perfectly fine seeing them get ticketed.

...however. I have a cellphone full of pictures of un-cited cars illegally parked in busy bike-lanes. I wish some of the effort put towards "cracking down" on bikes was put toward issues on the other side.

mattymatt
mattymatt

It's like we're riding in two different cities. A daily cyclist, I can't recall seeing more than a very small handful of people ever riding through a red light or on the sidewalk. As for stop signs, it seems to me that most cyclists execute rolling stops at a speed approximately equal to that of motorists. You're right about the hand signals, though. Does anyone collect empirical data about cyclists' compliance with the law? That would help put a stop to all these anecdotal generalizations.

Tony T.
Tony T.

Just take a ride down any street you want, my man, and observe.  Hardly anyone stops for stop signs.  Some stop for red lights, but not everyone.  Hardly anyone makes turn signals.  Many people ride the wrong way down one way streets.  Many people ride on the sidewalks.  For chrissakes, man, just open your eyes!

Richard Mumolo
Richard Mumolo

The other violations.....Well....The reason I don't have a driver's license is too many failures to appear....I can add a few more onto those...If SFPD wants me to.

Richard Mumolo
Richard Mumolo

i don't have to worry about the earbuds in both ears violation....i'm deaf in one ear

murphstahoe
murphstahoe

How can I get a targeted enforcement for cars running the stop signs at 24th/Douglass - right next to a playground for 2-5 year old kids....

The_Pony
The_Pony

Here we go again. Deflect the blame much? We're NOT talking about cars. Sheez!

SFEvl1
SFEvl1

Good, I'm glad they are cracking down.  I ride a motorcycle and the bicycles are supposed to share the road, which also means follow the road rules.  You wanna share the road, stop at the lights and stop signs.  Can''t have it both ways.

Carmen
Carmen

I was a motorcycle messenger up in SF (Lightning Express) and I hear ya. I understand why they don't stop; their legs are their throttle and if you lose momentum, you gotta pedal.

I once centerpunched a bicycle who was coming up the wrong way on a one way street; he popped out behind a panel van I couldn't see through. Had two choices to make in a nanosecond; centerpunch him and maybe get hurt by flailing limbs, or lay my NX250 down. I did that and pulled it off. His bicycle was bent so the tires were touching. My bike bent the shifter, so I potted back to the Lightning Express headquarters, straightened it out, got back on the road.

Not much sympathy for bicyclists who think traffic laws and laws of physics don't apply to them.

Renepittet65
Renepittet65

This is about money. Marin is doing the same thing. More money for the city. More money for the police.Will they fix potholes, feed the poor? No. Will they increase their salaries and pensions and medical contributions? Yes. Slime on the belly of the beast!

Richard H
Richard H

i don't buy it. We do more than an adequate job of feeding, housing, and caring for the poor here in SF.

Just obey the law and pay your fine scofflaw.

Eisarmee
Eisarmee

no we dont, you must be an idiot

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