Bike to Work Day marred by another Wiggle police sting UPDATED

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Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, SFBC head Leah Shahum, and Mayor Ed Lee on Bike to Work Day.
Courtesy of SFBC

City officials and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hailed yesterday’s Bike to Work Day as a success, with the official SFMTA count finding 76 percent of vehicles along Market Street during the morning commute were bikes. But a pair of motorcycle cops ticketing cyclists that afternoon on the Wiggle put a damper on the celebration.

As we reported in this week’s paper, cycling has come to enjoy almost universal support in City Hall, at least in terms of political rhetoric, although the Mayor’s Office and SFMTA have committed only a small fraction of the funding needed to meet official city goals for increasing ridership. And yesterday’s bike sting on the Wiggle, a key east-west bike corridor in Lower Haight, felt like a slap in the face to the SFBC.

Since another series of police stings targetting cyclists on the Wiggle last fall, SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum has been working closely with the San Francisco Police Department on its goal of focusing traffic enforcement resources on intersections with the most collisions, none of which include the Wiggle (the SFPD’s Focus on the Five initiative pledges traffic enforcement resources to the five most dangerous intersections in each police district and the five most dangerous traffic violations).

On Wednesday night, Shahum was even at the Police Commission hearing discussing the issue, and she says that Police Chief Greg Suhr and other top brass in the department have offered their assurances that such arbitrary stings on the Wiggle weren’t a good use of SFPD resources.

After recent hearings on how SFPD officers have refused to give citations to motorists who hit cyclists, Suhr and the department have also pledged to do so. But Shahum said she also heard from a cyclist on Bike to Work Day who was the victim of a hit-and-run by an impatient, road-raging motorist on 18th Street, and he told her that police refused to take a report even though he took down the license plate number.

Shahum said she’s disheartened by that story and those of the half-dozen cyclists she heard from who were ticketed on the Wiggle for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign on the Wiggle.    

“I’m not confident the commitments from the chief and the commission are making it down to the officers. They are still pursuing very outdated traffic enforcement policies,” Shahum told us.

Shahum said she spoke to Capt. Greg Corrales, whose Park Station precinct includes the Wiggle, and Cmndr. Mikail Ali, who heads traffic enforcement, and both said they had no knowledge of any enforcement stings on the Wiggle. We left a message for SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza, and we’ll update this post if and when we hear back. [UPDATE 5/12: Esparza just told us these citywide traffic enforcement officers were there based on citizen complaints about people running stop signs, but that the timing on BTWD wasn’t intentional: “It was a random thing they happened to be there that day.” He also noted that just 1 percent of traffic citations from April went to cyclists, and 93 percent to motorists, but he said officers can't ignore traffic violations. "We cannot say as an agency do not cite pedestrians, do not cite bicyclists, that would be selective enforcement," he said, while also agreeing that if officers that day on the Wiggle ignored motorist violations to focus on cyclists, that would also be selective enforcement."] 

One of the cyclists ticketed on the Wiggle yesterday wrote this account to Shahum: “I suspect you will be hearing from a lot of cyclists in the next few days regarding the 2 cops who decided to hang out at Waller and Steiner Sts. yesterday to nail riders ‘running the stop sign.’ I was there at 4:51pm yesterday and I approached that intersection as I always do everyday braked with my right hand and signaled with my left arm to make that left turn onto Waller. I know for a fact I stopped as there was a car opposite me heading south on Steiner and I had to make sure which direction it might go. Once I made my left turn, there to greet me was a man in blue telling me to stop and present my driver’s license to him. He said that I failed to stop and I quote ‘your pedals were still moving at the stop sign.’... So,  a great 20th anniversary of bike to work day turned out to be a real downer for myself and I would guess for dozens more of riders. What a scheme to do this on a bike to work day with so many more riders out there.”

At the Bike to Work Day rally outside City Hall yesterday morning, where a broad cross-section of local political leaders and city officials spoke after riding their bikes to the event, Chief Suhr talked about the importance of making the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists: “We are all in this together. Under the leadership of the mayor and the supervisors, all the department heads, we are committed to Vision Zero that in 10 years there are no fatalities in San Francisco.” 

Mayor Lee, who also rode to work, said: "I was proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Bike to Work Day by riding this morning from my neighborhood, Glen Park, accompanied by a growing number of bike commuters, including families, who are taking advantage of the benefits of a fun, healthy, affordable way to move around our City. With innovative bikeways like the new contraflow bike lane on lower Polk Street that connects Market Street to the Tenderloin and City Hall, we continue to improve and enhance our City’s bike network to connect our residents, neighborhoods, and businesses. But in order to do even more to make our streets safe, we must invest in our aging transportation infrastructure.” 

Comments

How dare the police enforce the traffic laws!

Bicyclists Are Special, and should be exempt from all laws!

Posted by Outrage on May. 09, 2014 @ 12:49 pm

Before you trolls go off on another feeding frenzy, Steven has been very clear about the fact that he does NOT respect this particular law. So the fact that the police are enforcing it anyway is indeed an important news item.

In case you have zero reading comprehension or memory, laws about the use of bus stops and hotel occupancy tax must be followed to the letter, but bicycle traffic laws should not.

In general, if Steven hasn't opined on a particular law then we should assume that it should be obeyed until he tells us otherwise

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

Stephen has made it abundantly clear that the primary criminal scourge facing the city is posting flyers on telephone poles.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 9:38 pm

Only 3.6 % of trips in SF are made on bicycles, and by the city's own numbers, there has been no great surge in cycling in San Francisco since the year 2000. One only needs to check page 3 of the city's latest Transportation Fact Sheet to verify that reality.

http://www.sfmta.com/sites/default/files/2013%20SAN%20FRANCISCO%20TRANSP...

In 2000 2.1% of city commuters rode bikes to work
In 2012 3.6% of city commuters rode bikes to work.

That's a gain of only 1.5% over eleven years!

Only the Bicycle Coalition can call that a "surge" in cycling. The if-you-build-it-they-will-come argument isn’t very convincing when motorists stuck in traffic witness empty bike lanes on a daily basis.

San Francisco has developed an urban plan around the loud but short-sighted desires of 12,000 people in our population of 800,000. It's good that the Restoring Transportation Balance Initiative

http://sfgov2.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/elections/candidates/Nov2014/Nov2014...

will be on the November ballot with the $500 million bond and the vehicle license fee, since it will mean the Fall political campaign will include for the first time a discussion of both the transportation money the city is squandering and its anti-car policies.

Posted by sfparkripoff on May. 09, 2014 @ 10:58 pm

while more efficient and productive means of transit are inhibited.

The SFBC is a group of affluent white yuppies who know how to play the lobbying game.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2014 @ 1:01 am
Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 12, 2014 @ 10:50 am

It's the exact opposite.

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:48 pm

And the SFMTA spends more on post it notes than bike safety, go figure..

Posted by Nicholas on May. 12, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

Your math is bad, or at the least misleading

2.1% of city commuters -> 3.5% of city commuters = 67% increase of ridership.

I highly recommend the following article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fraction_(mathematics)

Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

Same bad math on Streetsblog (under yet another pseudonym).

Posted by Guest on May. 14, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

Don't want to sound rude, but cyclists on public roads are driving me nuts. They feel SPECIAL indeed - what traffic lights, they say?! And with summer coming i may forget about pleasant driving experience with thousand of them jumping in front of my car... suddenly!

Posted by Mike on May. 10, 2014 @ 3:35 am

Yielding is the law for bicyclists in Idaho and it has been for fourty years. Check out the Idaho Stop Law.

And if we are slowing down your massive ego climate change SUV, that might be a message..

Posted by Nicholas on May. 12, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

I feel that if they're going to just say bicyclists can run stop signs and traffic lights at will then they might as well just make it official policy so that the rest of us know.

Posted by bassguitarhero on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:01 pm

I do worry about cyclists who don't follow any discernable traffic rules. And when they move into my blind spot it gets even hairier.

Same goes for pedestrians assuming their right of way can trump the physics of a moving car. and brakes that might not be up to snuff. Look up from the phone!!

And sometimes a car is the only way. Boxes, bags, dog, kids, don't all fit on a bike...

Posted by SF'er on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

There's panniers for bags--an extra set can be fitted in front on the fork--or you can simply use a sturdy book rack and tie things such as milk-crate type boxes or other relatively solid objects to it.

Children can ride behind on specially made child seats, in trailers or trailer-bikes, or on bilkes of their own. Dogs can similarly be situated or they can run along if the distance is not too great and the speed is kept moderate.

I like synthetic braided cordage for attaching stuff to the tubes and racks of bikes, and knots such as the Prussik--a real easy to learn and versatile one!--Trucker's hitch, Rolling hitch on a spar, and bowline.

Posted by lillipublicans on May. 09, 2014 @ 3:48 pm

too dangerous to put my kid in a trailer cart in SF traffic

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 10:40 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2014 @ 12:59 am

I thought the cyclists were the dangerous ones. And if only they followed the rules, they'd be OK. Now you are saying that riding a bike is dangerous even if you follow the rules? How can that be? It could not possibly be because motorists don't follow the rules now could it?

Posted by Guest on May. 12, 2014 @ 8:43 am

Easier than catching criminals.

SF Cops = Lazy.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

I do worry about cyclists who don't follow any discernable traffic rules. And when they move into my blind spot it gets even hairier.

Same goes for pedestrians assuming their right of way can trump the physics of a moving car. and brakes that might not be up to snuff. Look up from the phone!!

And sometimes a car is the only way. Boxes, bags, dog, kids, don't all fit on a bike...

Posted by SF'er on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

If we don't enforce the traffic laws against bikes, how can we extract yet more traffic fines from Marcos?

Posted by Outrage on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:15 pm

A couple of hundred bucks every few years, no big deal, the cost of doing business.

Posted by marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:44 pm

Out of my way, puny loser pedestrians!

I'm coming through!

Posted by Marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 2:13 pm

The guy who turned around and hit me yesterday was not puny, he was overweight, he was an easy target to avoid and it required quite a displacement of energy for him to heave his bulk around and throw a punch at me.

Posted by marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

So you were calmly riding your bike down the street, and a random pedestrian decided to reverse course and punch you for no particular reason at all?

Really?

Does this happen to you often?

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

I was taking a turn on a green and legally traversed a cross walk and a pedestrian likewise legally in the crosswalk turned around and punched me.

The cops believed me and gave the prejudiced pedestrian a citizen's arrest.

The deal is that cyclists don't hit pedestrians and pedestrians don't assault cyclists. That is not just a good idea, it is the law.

Posted by marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

"The cops believed me and gave the prejudiced pedestrian a citizen's arrest."

What the hell does that mean?

You arrested him? It doesn't sound as if the cops arrested him, since they didn't take him away?

"I was taking a turn on a green and legally traversed a cross walk and a pedestrian likewise legally in the crosswalk turned around and punched me."

How close were you to the pedestrian, when the evil pedestrian decided to punch you? How fast were you going? Did the pedestrian have any reason to think that you were endangering him by coming too close?

"The cops believed me"

So the SFPD is now the source of unquestioned truth? Good to know.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

I was going slow enough that the pedestrian could turn around and hit me.

Posted by marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 10:15 pm

I might hate cyclists less if more of them hit you

Posted by Greg on May. 12, 2014 @ 7:54 pm

You are such a dear.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 12, 2014 @ 11:37 pm
Posted by Guest on May. 13, 2014 @ 4:26 am

I might have more sympathy for bicylists if they actually obeyed the laws and properly yeilded the right-of-way to Pedestrians.
Always on here complaining that cars don't obey the traffic laws...rich, indeed considering that on my daily walks around town , it's bicylists who much more often run me over than autos.
Set the example by doing the right thing, people!

Posted by The Dude Abides on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

you get run over on a daily basis? WOW. I find that highly probable.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2014 @ 7:34 pm

I gotta say that every day I have to cede the right of way to a pedestrian who otherwise has no legal entitlement to it. Every day.

Posted by marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 7:44 pm

"I gotta say that every day I have to cede the right of way to a pedestrian who otherwise has no legal entitlement to it. Every day."

And one day soon, they will pay.

How they will pay.

Posted by Marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 8:01 pm

I guess I just lucked out and that pedestrian who hit me did not.

Posted by marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:43 pm

Why, normal, law-abiding cyclists get "hit by pedestrians" all the time!

It's a real problem!

We need to figure out better ways of controlling mere pedestrians, and keep them from selfishly endangering morally superior cyclists!

The accident didn't happen simply because I am a dangerous, arrogant, bicyclist, jerk!

Posted by Marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 2:20 pm

So people break the law and this author is upset the cops are enforcing the law? At some point, police need to enforce every law, otherwise people won't obey said law. Seeing as though 76 percent of vehicles were bikes on this particular day, 76% of traffic enforcement should be on bicyclists no?

It would be an interesting statistic to report the amount of traffic tickets given to cars vs. bikes in relation to the percentage of cars/bikes on the road. I could be wrong, but my guess is that cars get more traffic violations than bikes in relation to how many cars/bikes are on the road.

If 20% of the vehicles on the road are bicycles, but they receive 40% of the tickets, this would be something to report as then you'd have a case for discrimination.

I'm sure you don't want facts to get in the way of you're argument, but maybe these numbers would be on your side. As a so called journalist, this should be something you research. just a thought.....

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

Are you suggesting that automotive speed limits should be enforced always everywhere with zero tolerance?

Posted by marcos on May. 09, 2014 @ 2:07 pm

take a conscious risk when they run a light or commit other common infractions.

Why would bikes have immunity?

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 10:29 pm

Should cops ticket every motorist who goes 26mph or more in a 25 zone?

Posted by marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 7:33 am

Define that terms your own way.

Posted by Guest on May. 10, 2014 @ 9:44 am

Cops should ticket proportionate to the threat to public health that any given violation by any class of road users represents. By that measure, cars should get 97% of all tickets, bikes 2% and pedestrians 1%.

Posted by marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

We carshared it down to Palo Alto and back today on the 280 and everyone was driving faster than the posted speed limit of 65MPH.

Posted by marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 6:19 pm

The fact that people go faster than 65 MPH on freeways in the suburbs means that I can bicycle in SF any way I want, no matter how illegally or obnoxiously!

Posted by Marcos on May. 10, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

I watched a traffic cop radar people on Folsom once and every single car was going over the speed limit of 25. It was hysterical, he could have pulled over everyone.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on May. 11, 2014 @ 10:48 pm

is in limited supply. We can't have cops everywhere at every time. They need to pick and choose their spots.
I took Steven's article not as a call for bicyclists to be allowed to ride willy-nilly all over the city breaking traffic laws, but more as a call for the police enforcement available to be put to a better use. Really? Rolling through a stop sign in the Wiggle of all places is a crime worth taking the police away from someplace else where they can be doing more good? Call me crazy, but I'd much rather them be in the Tenderloin dealing with drug dealers, or busting up stolen bike operations, or giving some asshole who is tagging the trees in front of my house a smack upside the head (metaphorically)

Posted by guestD on May. 09, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

That argument has been used ever since the fist cave man was given a ticket for something less significant than murder. We're talking about 2 officers. Nobody said that the Tenderloin had to be left totally unprotected as a result.

Funny, when it comes to ticketing the Google buses you never hear that resources are better used against more serious offenses.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

Motorcyclists are required to put a foot down on the ground when they come to a stop. Cyclists should do the same. Balancing on two wheels or driving around in circles to avoid the foot down is a dangerous practice that confuses everyone. We need to anticipate the actions of each other. That is why we have rules to follow. If you don't follow the rules you put other people at risk and you deserve a ticket.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 3:51 pm

I ride up to four way intersections and put both feet down and stare at people in cars, they just sit there for a bit waiting for me to go.

Posted by Guest on May. 09, 2014 @ 4:09 pm

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