Despite the department’s insistence that officers are not targeting bicyclists on Market Street, new numbers from the San Francisco Police Department confirm that cops are going after people on bikes following two high-profile crashes.
Last Friday, as part of SFPD’s traffic safety campaign [pdf], officers beefed up enforcement at 5th and Market and issued a total of 83 citations, mostly to bicyclists, but not a single driver was cited.
Here’s the breakdown, according to numbers provided to Streetsblog by SFPD: 30 bicyclists were cited for running red lights, 21 bicyclists were ticketed for riding on the sidewalk, 16 were cited for “bikes without brakes,” 3 “skateboarders on the sidewalk” were given tickets, and 1 pedestrian was cited for “jaywalking.” The SFPD said “12 misc. citations” were handed out, but withheld specifics.
Why weren’t drivers given any tickets?
“Because the drivers actually followed the rules of the road during the period that the officers were out there that day,” said SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza.
In an interview with Streetsblog yesterday, Police Chief Greg Suhr insisted that officers aren’t specifically targeting bicyclists. He confirmed that the department has stepped up enforcement in general on Market Street.
“It’s just vehicle code violations, generally. It’s actually the pedestrians too. You know, if everybody’s a little bit mad at me, but it’s safer, then that’s okay. It’s basically who raises their hand that’s going to get called on.”
He added he thought the enforcement was “going well,” and further explained: “We’re trying to get Muni to run on time, and we have had a series of accidents. I’m not casting any blame, but just more enforcement.”
The numbers were troubling to biking and walking advocates because the enforcement did not yield any tickets for drivers.
“This is a failure to focus on the real threat. We need to see police out there ticketing the people who pose the greatest risk to others. That means drivers who fail to yield, speed, fail to stop, or are on their phones — those behaviors cause the serious injuries and deaths we see in SoMa and that’s what the police need to tackle,” said Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk San Francisco.
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Director Leah Shahum also issued the following statement:
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition supports efforts to encourage safety on our streets among all road users, whether people are bicycling, driving or walking. It is the responsibility of everyone using our roads to watch out not only for their own safety but also for the safety of others.
And we encourage the SF Police Department to focus on those behaviors on our streets that are most dangerous. There should be no selective enforcement of the laws on certain road users, but rather equal opportunity enforcement of those actions that are putting others at risk. There is a hierarchy of dangerous types of behavior and those threatening the most people should be prioritized for enforcement.
We will continue to encourage the growing number of people bicycling in San Francisco — from moms to downtown commuters to people taking care of errands by bicycle — to take our free Urban Cycling Workshops, held regularly in neighborhoods throughout the city and to learn about our Give & Get Respect campaign, which encourages safe, respectful bicycling.
The SFPD is continuing to enforce the required right-turn on 10th Street at Market. Yesterday, an officer was seen ticketing numerous drivers who had violated the rule.