SF Cyclotouring

Ride reports and other ramblings from a San Francisco cyclist.


"Share the Road" Is a Two-Way Street!

A friend just sent me this link to a posting over on another blog, which features a video clip and a rant against SFPD cops ticketing bicyclists at the intersection of Haight and Scott streets in San Francisco:
Ok. We are officially revolted. Gavin Newsom has given cops SPECIFIC instructions to write tickets to bicyclists on major bike routes, even while IGNORING cars that break the same laws. We have been getting reports of this crack down for a month now but now there is VIDEO PROOF Ask yourself:

- If there aren’t enough cops to do stop SF’s spiraling homicide rate HOW ARE THE enough cops to hassle bicyclists.

- If there aren’t enough cops to investigate murders HOW ARE THE enough cops to hassle bicyclists.

- If there aren’t enough cops to ticket RED LIGHT RUNNING CAR DRIVERS, especially given the surge in SF traffic deaths, HOW ARE THE enough cops to hassle bicyclists.

Watch this video. Watch three cops REPEATEDLY ignore car drivers running stop signs as they WAIT for bicyclists to run them.

As a former resident (until just last week) and pedestrian in that neighborhood living just a stone's throw from that particular intersection, I APPLAUD the actions of the SFPD in cracking down on lawless cyclists! I am sick and tired of watching bikers inconsiderately ignoring road-use etiquette and stealing the right of way when they blow through that intersection. During the several years I lived there, there were at least two bike-related major injury accidents caused by cyclists failing to stop and give right-of-way, resulting in major injuries to themselves and even a cyclist's death in one case. I also grew weary of trying to walk through that intersection (as well as several others in the area, notably Scott and Page Streets) while dodging cyclists blowing the stop sign.

As a law-abiding cyclist myself, these reckless behaviors are a personal affront and only serve to denigrate the sport and bicycling as a viable form of urban transportation. Dr. Martin Luther King didn't lead the civil-rights movement by being an asshole, instead he promoted nonviolent civil disobedience which espouses respectful disagreement and compassion...neither of which is exemplified by blowing stop signs and generally being a self-centered jerk on the road. I'm also really tired of bikers whining about road rules being car-focused, and then hiding behind cycling as "being green" and using that as an excuse for somehow being above road-use laws. "Bicycling Against Oil" does NOT mean you can ignore that stop light, OK?!!

C'mon people, this isn't even a question of unfair laws, it's simply a matter of being considerate to other road users, irrespective of whether they're on 2 legs, 4 legs, skates, wheelchairs, 2/4/6 wheels or more. Stop at that intersection and let the other bike/vehicle/pedestrian/whatever go first if they got there before you. Get some kind of night-time lighting so you can see and to help other people see you. Love your brother...Be nice to your fellow San Franciscians, even just a little bit!

While I don't disagree that there also needs to be thorough enforcement of road rules for auto traffic, I'd wager that the percentage of poor drivers in San Francisco is much smaller than the percentage of bad cyclists. Furthermore, that other blog states
Stop scapegoating taggers and bicyclists and skateboarders and the homeless for your FAILURE to keep San Franciscans safe!!!

and while these problems might be seen as petty crime, it's proven that unchecked petty crime leads to bigger and larger problems, so I'm all for the SFPD cracking down on all forms of lawlessness. E.g., bike theft is considered a petty crime, yet we all want more police attention there, right?!? And don't even get me started on punk-ass taggers (who each deserve a spray-paint enema)!

It's about time, says I! If you want cycling to stop being seen as a second-class activity, remember "Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim: Here, here! I totally agree and as you know I went through that checkpoint that day. The day before was Bike to Work Day which makes the cops move kind of obnoxious and in your face. On the other hand BTWD was pretty much a free-for-all with inconsiderate riding in abundance.

Andy Sohn

12:18 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's baffling to me that people feel justified in ignoring stop signs, if only from a safety point of view. But, I'm always stunned that they can then turn around and claim unfairness if they get ticketed for that behavior. Seems to me that if you want to the laws changed, you work to change the laws. Was it Colorado that passed a "Stop=Yield" for cyclists? Of course, since most autos (at best) roll stop signs, you'd think cyclists would stop, if only to protect themselves...


Even among otherwise rational people who are completely aware that I ride, many will get apoplectic when describing cyclists running stop signs. To folks outside of our little tribe, it's the most uniformally infuriating thing that we do, as a group.

-- Jim

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree cyclists should stop at signs and lights. I occasionally get honked at for doing it. I can understand some of the arguments about how if we were re-creating the laws maybe this or that, but that's not where we are now. Law say stop, I stop at most, even when there's no one around.

But I also wonder about this selective anger. I sat eating at Regent Thai, corner of Church and 28th, a very walkable neighborhood, with plenty of people walking, pushing baby barges, etc. While sitting there I was amazed at how no cars were actually stopping and this 4-way stop. They were all doing that San Francisco Roll-Through that new people to town remark on. I started counting, and there were 100 cars going through the intersection in various ways, and 3 bikes. Only 1 of the bikes stopped. For shame. And NOT ONE SINGLE CAR ACTUALLY STOPPED at the actual intersection. Some stopped when they weren't the car at the intersection, some stopped because the Metro was going through and they couldn't go anywhere, or pedestrians were directly in front of them (though they usually just slowed down), but when it was at the intersection and they could move forward, they did.

I think we should stop BOTH double standards: bike riders should behave as well as the few courteous legal car drivers, car drivers should behave as good as the few courteous legal bike riders.

What's the rate of injury for car+something else vs. bike+something else? Is your energy focused in the right place?

12:11 PM  
Blogger Jim G said...

@roymeo: "What's the rate of injury for car+something else vs. bike+something else? Is your energy focused in the right place?"

Dunno the statistics, but the rules of the game are well-established. It's up to you and me and them to play fair. Playing the game unfairly just hurts everyone.

1:49 PM  

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