Today’s Headlines

  • Re: bike lane violations, the double parking fine is way too low and the enforcement too lax to actually discourage anyone from double parking in the city.

    Right now parking in a traffic lane will net you the smallest possible fine of any parking violation – less than parking at an expired meter – despite the fact that you are endangering cyclists lives! And there seems to be almost no emphasis on enforcement. So why are we surprised how prevalent it is?

    Of course, the other lesson that we should be learning from such other traffic engineering disasters as Octavia and 8th is that unless you post an officer 24/7, enforcement alone will not be sufficient. We should be physically separating these lanes and looking at other engineering solutions as the more permanent fix.

  • JohnB

    Mike

    By double-parking do you mean a car with no driver in it and with the engine switched off and locked?

    I can understand how that adds risk to a cyclist by forcing him to pass.

    But what if that same car is simply waiting to make a turn?

    Isn’t it then your choice whether to pass or wait?

  • JohnB, so a car is only parked when it has no driver in it and is switched off? What about all those people who stop, put on their flashers, leave the car running, and jump out for several minutes? What is that?

  • @JohnB As far as I can tell, the linked site is just about cars illegally parked/stopped in bike lanes (whether they are on or off, or someone is in them or not doesn’t matter), not just waiting to make a turn.

    This is much more dangerous because people tend to do it in the middle of a block where drivers are not expecting lane changes, especially on a road with only one auto and one bike lane in each direction e.g. Valencia.

    A car waiting for the crosswalk to clear to turn right is much less of a safety issue if the car pulls as far to the right as possible and and other traffic including bikes pass legally on the left; in this case everyone is already slowing down and paying more attention to navigate the intersection

  • JohnB

    Mike/Steve

    My point is that a car that is genuinely double-parked presents exactly the same hazard to a cyclist as a car that is temporarily stopped in traffic or waiting to make a turn, whether in a bike lane or not.

    Either way if you have to pass, that should not be dangerous if done safely and carefully. Cars have to pass bikes, parked trucks, stopped buses etc in much the same way.

    As for double-parking for a few seconds to pick up dry cleaing or whatever, I do what a traffic cop told me to do – be quick and leave the hazards on. That is very different from double-parking for an extended period which is rightly illegal.

  • @JohnB Well that’s exactly what I was trying to explain in my last post: the danger of having to merge into 35MPH traffic in the middle of a block (a location where drivers are not expecting lane changes) is completely different from the danger of having to swing to the left of a vehicle waiting to turn right at an intersection when everyone is starting from a red light.

    It is also not at all like the dangers auto drivers face when they have to pass a double parked vehicle on by merging into another auto lane – there you are talking about the people in the left lane moving maybe 5-10MPH faster than the people in the right, whereas a cyclist can be forced to merge into a lane of people moving 20MPH or more faster than them!

  • @SteveS, from behind the windshield, it all looks the same. But you and I live that danger every day. Apparently it can’t be explained, only experienced.

  • the greasybear

    It takes only one scofflaw motorist to completely nullify a bike lane; suddenly all cyclists are forced out into dangerous mixed traffic, as if there were no bike lane painted directly underneath that selfish prick’s SUV.

    Likewise, it takes only a few blocks of nullified bike lanes to render an entire bike route–and by extension, network–entirely useless. On some days, there is no de facto bike lane on Market Street, Valencia, Fell.

    Signs and paint are not enough to prevent motorists from shutting it all down on a whim. And rampant double parking is just one example–behold how motorists now openly flaunt the so-called “forced turn” at 10th Street and Market (forget about the one at 6th). Every light cycle sees bad motorists appropriating either bicycle or transit infrastructure, despite clear signs, colored paint, and an electronic board ordering them not to do so.

    We must build strong physical barricades to keep scofflaw motorists from nullifying our bicycle network. The hard choice in this city is between physically separated bike lanes–or no real-life bike lanes at all.

  • marcos

    Randy Shaw has no problem with a tiny minority holding up or pushing plans so long as he is part of the tiny minority and he gets paid.

    Shaw should also refrain from using the first person plural pronoun in his writing to refer to San Francisccans, as Shaw lives comfortably in a mansion in the Oakland hills.

    Shaw’s salary for running a charity nonprofit has doubled over the past decade, from $70K and change to $140K. Has the subsidies of the individuals living in THC’s units doubled? Has your salary doubled?

    Nice work if you can get it.

    The truth is that had the Eastern Neighborhood plans been approved earlier, those units would still be underwater and residents would be applying for revaluations of their property under current market conditions.

    More residential construction would also have dragged down property values of existing homes such as mine relative to mortgages and thrown countless more San Franciscan into foreclosure.

    That diminished revenue would throw dirt on top of the failure of residential property taxes to cover the proportionate costs of running city government and the scant impact fees’ failure to cover their share of cost.

    But of what concern is the economics of taxpayers in San Francisco to Shaw, who commutes in to the City to make his money and need not concern himself with the detritus left in his wake?

    Shaw’s alliances with developers are left undisclosed in this piece, as is his propaganda organ which is subsidized by public dollars and runs pieces which seek to alter the dispensation of city resources. This is the kind of nonprofit corruption which is the mirror image of for-profit corruption.

    The last thing that San Francisco’s east side communities need are comfortably housed (elsewhere) straight white men with financial dogs in the game holding sway over our politics, especially as relates to land use.

    -marc

  • Nick

    I don’t think blocked bike lanes are worthy of a website.

    How about a website where one documents the COMPLETELY FADED bike lanes that permeate most of the city?

    Then at least there is awareness of the problem, hopefully followed by DPT’s paint crews.

    The SFBC regretably has never persued this as a cause (can someone please explain why?).

    Off the top of my head I can think of so many lanes that need fresh paint including:
    -Brotherhood Way (wow)
    -West Portal
    -Dewey
    -6th Ave at Hugo
    -etc…………

  • @Nick I would ask the Good Roads folks at SFBC about it… generally they do repainting after repaving, so if something needs repainting, maybe it can be an upcoming good roads ride, get patched, and then get painted!

    Brotherhood is also a really obvious target for physically separated lanes: no parking lane, few cross streets, plenty of room to add the buffer space… should be a no-brainer right?

  • Nick

    Steve, I asked them months ago. There has never been a comphrehensive effort to spruce up the bike network. Ideally it should happen annually before the start of the Fall semester for the schools.

    I’ll proclaim August to be “Bike Network Maintenance Month.” Anyone with me?

  • Sean

    Love the concept of the bike lane website. I’ve yet to encounter fewer than four cars blocking the lane at some point during my daily commute. Makes sense to document this in the absence of any enforcement — if we’re prevented from adding additional infrastructure it would at least make sense to make available what we have.

    http://sf.mybikelane.com/post/index/13240

    This guy said he was only there for a minute… OK, well in that minute no fewer than five cyclists had to switch into the adjacent lane to avoid him.

    Perhaps motorists don’t realize it, but when thousands of cars block a bike lane — even for “just a minute” — it starts to add up.

  • the greasybear

    The jury’s out on whether there is a true safety gain with separated bike lanes (anecdotally, I think there is), but one thing is certain: there’s no chance of increased safety if those lanes are neither open nor safe for bikes to use as intended.

    SUVs don’t grind to a halt in the middle of Market or Valencia, flashers on “for just a minute,” while some jerk grabs a venti caramel macchiato and drops off his dirty laundry. Motorists who seize busy bike lanes would never similarly blockade all the travel lanes they themselves use. Why the double standard?

    Motorists’ chauvinism is enabled and enforced by SFPD bias and negligence. It only takes one self-serving motorist to nullify a bike lane, but it takes an entire police department to enable hypocritical autocentrism to endanger thousands of San Francisco cyclists each day. Only barricades separating cars from bikes can keep San Francisco bike lanes reliably open and safe for travel.

  • Sean

    @greasybear

    About those SUVs… take a spin through the Inner Sunset sometime. I’ve seen plenty of motorists block their lane for all sorts of idiotic reasons.

    That aside – absolutely correct about the double standard. I still believe that most of it isn’t ill-intentioned (just stupidly self-centered), but the lack of enforcement has created a culture where blocking a bike lane is a socially acceptable thing to do. Not sure what can be done about that given the lack of enforcement though — that’d be about the only thing that could reverse the trend.

  • JohnB

    GreasyBear

    Actually drivers have to tolerate exactly the same behavior in terms of blocked lanes, double-parking, van deliveries etc.

    Even on a high-speed thruway like Bush and Pine, with 3 lanes of traffic, it’s often prudent to snag the middle lane as you just KNOW that there will be blockages in the lanes on either side.

    It’s just the reality of traveling in a crowded city. At various points in your journey, you have to stop and get out or do something. And that is going to hold everyone else up. It’s not specifically a problem just for bikes.

  • Sean

    JohnB

    1) Fair enough. When there are three bike lanes then you might be able to make a valid comparison. The point is that bikes are often forced out of a bike lane traveling at one speed into another lane with automobile traffic often moving at a much greater speed. Neither is a desirable situation but if there’s a collision you can bet there will be a lot more damage done in the latter situation.

    2) That isn’t a justification to block -any- lane of traffic, and it is only done so widely because a lack of enforcement has made it socially acceptable to do so.

  • marcos

    @greasybear:

    “SUVs don’t grind to a halt in the middle of Market or Valencia, flashers on “for just a minute,” while some jerk grabs a venti caramel macchiato and drops off his dirty laundry. Motorists who seize busy bike lanes would never similarly blockade all the travel lanes they themselves use. Why the double standard? ”

    -marc

  • the greasybear

    John B, you are equivocating. San Francisco motorists never face the physical danger suffered regularly by cyclists as a result of motorists’ illegal elimination of 100% of a given road’s bike facility.