Cop Parked in Bike Lane During Meal Break is “Proper Conduct”?

_2.jpgPhoto by Andrew Turley.
A San Francisco bicyclist who confronted a motorcycle cop over why he was parked in the bike lane on Market Street while on a meal break has received a dubious answer to his complaints from the Office of Citizen Complaints. Andrew Turley filed two complaints against the officer for "Conduct Reflecting Discredit on the Department," one for "being rude about parking in the bike lane" and the other for parking in the bike lane. We wrote about his story back in February. The official response is terse but telling: 

The allegations of Conduct Reflecting Discredit on the Department against a police officer for behaving inappropriately is Proper Conduct.

And Turley's reaction?

So, in the end the police are allowed to park in the bike lane while eating meals, and presumably while doing anything else while on duty. In addition to potholes and debris, we also need to keep an eye out for patrol vehicles in the bike lanes.

As we've written, San Francisco's Traffic Code states that a motorcycle officer or the driver of any other emergency vehicle is allowed to park in a bike lane when "engaged in emergency services." The California code is less clear.

It was encouraging to see some motorcycle cops recently clearing double parkers out of the bike lanes. But the official response to Turley is further proof that cops can do whatever they please, with no consequences, even if it puts bicyclists in harm's way. That, of course, is not the official line from SFPD public affairs. Here's the response from SFPD Sgt. Lyn Tomioka:

We don’t advocate an officer that’s on a meal break to park within a bike lane. We will advocate to those officers, find a legal spot, even if it means driving around, looking for a legal spot. And when I say a legal spot, you know, that is going to sometimes include a fire hydrant, a red zone, that doesn’t present a hazard to the public. Because on the other side of that, you’re a cop, take the red zone, because I have no where else to park. And I mean, that’s been said to me by someone personally in a car and not a bike lane situation, why do you have to take a legal spot? Why can’t you take the fire hydrant? So that’s the other side. We kind of get caught in the middle.

So, in other words, it's okay to park in a bike lane and put a bicyclist in danger, but it's not okay to inconvenience a driver? Let's hope the new police chief will have some stronger advice for his officers.