Eyes on the Street: SFPD’s Ingleside Bicycle Beat

1st_cop_small.jpgIngleside Station’s bicycle beat. Photos: Matthew Roth

Mission Street from Cesar Chavez to Highland Avenue is a vibrant commercial and pedestrian strip, though it also suffers from a good deal of speeding traffic. The strip is also notorious for the noise from motorcycle owners gunning it up the hill and along the long blocks just south of Cesar Chavez.

Since the middle of May, however, Captain David Lazar of the Ingleside Station (the same captain who does regular stings on drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians) has deployed a consistent tandem of bicycle officers that patrol the street and very often make stops of vehicles like this one above.

I have to admit there is something very satisfying about seeing a bicycle with flashing lights pulling over a multi-ton vehicle, especially when it has been speeding on the street.  According to Captain Lazar, I’m not the only one who feels that way about the beat.

"We get great feedback from the public; they love them," he said.

Yesterday, while working on our beloved blog, I happened to see a stop out of my window and snapped this photo.

both_cops_2.jpgThe citing officer’s partner spots a driver on his cell phone and crosses the street.

The driver of the car pleaded his case and gesticulated grandly, but to no avail. While the first officer was issuing a summons, his partner, who had dismounted and stood next to his bicycle, saw another infraction and crossed the street to stop the driver.

From my window I could hear the officer ask the driver, "Why are you talking on your cell phone and driving? Don’t you know that’s illegal?"

By the time I got downstairs, the officer was issuing the citation for driving and talking on a phone to a driver who gave me pretty evil stink eye for thanking the officer for their presence in the neighborhood.

Here’s hoping other captains are paying attention to the good work of their peers in Compstat meetings and they try similar approaches to calming our neighborhood streets.

2nd_cop_small.jpg
  • DaveO

    Why do I have visions of Lt. Jim Dangle right now. All we need are the short-shorts.

  • Thanks for highlighting this SFPD vigilance, Matthew. Most neighborhood associations invite district captains or other officers to their meetings — that would be a perfect time to encourage similar attention to safety, pedestrians, etc. in all the districts. In person and in front of an audience never hurts.

  • Goodie

    Bravo to Captain Lazar and his officers!

    Seems to me that traffic cops on bikes (where they experience the street from a more vulnerable perspective) makes a lot more sense than traffic cops in cars (where they are stuck in traffic and can’t catch many scofflaws, and always park illegally). Why isn’t the entire traffic division of SFPD on bikes? They are much more approachable, and they’d get in great shape as well.

  • zsolt

    I live in this district and the funny thing about Ingleside is that the car storage ghetto it is, it is in fact eminently bikable. Apart from a few busy arteries you can easily circumvent if it gets too crazy, most streets are mostly quiet. Streets are narrow so cars rarely speed too bad. There are a few things you need to learn to deal with. For example, most drivers coming at you will refuse to give you room and keep going in the middle of the street. But drivers in general are not very aggressive. They are quite patient if they get caught behind you and can’t pass for a block or two.

    Overall, though I *hate* the number of cars in the neighborhood, most of which are parked along or ON the sidewalks, I find cycling a rather pleasant experience. Because of this, I think bike beats are a great way for cops to check up on the neighborhoods.

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