Eyes on the Street: Parking Enforcement Needed in Fell Street Bike Lane

Photos: Gisela Schmoll

Since the Fell Street buffered bike lane was partially implemented in November, drivers have continued to block it. Mostly, they seem to be customers using Bank of America’s sidewalk ATM and truck drivers from Ted and Al’s Towing.

The SFMTA and SFPD don’t seem to provide much enforcement against the practice, even though it endangers people on bikes by forcing them into the buffer zone. While the installation of the curbside buffered bike lane has improved the situation overall (before, bicycle riders would be forced into moving traffic), the lane is meant to be protected from motor vehicles, and until hazards like this illegal parking and the queue at the Arco gas station are fixed, they will remain a deterrent for many San Franciscans.

The SFMTA has said concrete planters will be installed along the Fell lane in the coming months, which should more effectively signal to drivers that they don’t belong in the bike lane at all.

We’ve put in a request with the SFMTA about when work on the project will resume, but have yet to hear back.

  • the greasybear

    The double-parking debacle that is the Valencia Street “bike lane” proves hard physical barriers will be the *only* way to keep San Francisco’s scofflaw motorists from illegally closing down bike lanes.

  • John Hamilton

    This silver Mercedes was parked *smack* in the middle of the Fell Street bike lane as I rode home to the Haight earlier this week. When it’s not an inconsiderate driver, it’s usually a tow truck from Ted & Al’s Towing. The place has an entrance to its facility that cuts through the bike lane on Fell just east of Broderick, and very often tow trucks are just parked in the middle of the bike lane.

    For what it’s worth, I called parking enforcement to report the Mercedes. I wish they could have called me back to let me know whether they ticketed this inconsiderate offender–I wanted confirmation of some measure of justice!

  • magoo

    SFMTA and SFPD apparently don’t have the “resources” to enforce these kind of parking violations that seriously threaten the safety of bicyclists, yet they seem to have plenty of resources to issue tickets less than five minutes after a curb becomes a street cleaning zone. There’s no grace period for motorists who simply forget to move their cars on time and are not otherwise being a danger, yet motorists who park in bike lanes, actively ignoring the law and putting others at real risk, can do so with impunity. Very strange priorities.

  • John Hamilton

    Well, an ounce of enforcement might provide a pound of prevention! I mean, it’s not like there’s an aggressive campaign by SF to ticket these drivers, even though it would be a great source of revenue.

  • mike

    I was driving down Fell around 8/9pm and saw someone drive down the bike lane from Broderick to Baker to pass us free-flowing traffic. Since we were going about 25mph with the lights, I’m confident he was driving at least 40, maybe 50, in the bike lane. We all caught up to him at the next light when he arrived too early and had to stop. Prime candidate for reckless driving. I wish SFPD enforcement would put a little energy focusing on drivers like this, who are responsible for the bulk of egregious and dangerous violations around the city.

  • The final design (http://www.sfmta.com/cms/bproj/documents/FELL_OAKST_updated_9-24-2012.pdf) calls for a “merge zone” approaching the corner of Broderick Street, similar to the 8th Street buffered bike lane.  It’s not clear from the picture whether they will actually stripe it that way, or just leave a green-striped mixed traffic area approaching the corner.

  • Iskandr

    Maybe B  of A’s security mannequin should be asked to tell customers they shouldn’t park there?  

  • steve

    Why isn’t the curb painted red?

  • Guest

    I do this frequently for cars on JFK.

    So much they probably have my number on file and ask me why I call so much.

  • ubringliten

    I always wonder about this idea too on all protected bike lanes.

  • Anonymous

    Ted and Al’s towing is the biggest culprit. They DPT just needs to keep ticketing them until they realize that they are not entitled to free parking, especially when it jeopardizes the safety of vulnerable road users. I don’t understand what these guys are thinking. I think maybe we need to start a campaign where everybody just calls their phone number and tells them they need to stop parking in the bike lane (since it’s illegal and all). By the way, from their website (http://www.tedandalstowing.com/index.html), their number is  415-567-6393 (they apparently don’t have email). If nothing else, I need to start carrying pre-written post-its or something to slap on the windshield of cars parked in the bike lane that remind the culprit that what they are doing is illegal and is risking the safety of others.

    As a community, we really need to get DPT to take parking in the bike lane seriously. The fact that they don’t (Valencia being the best example) is proof that the vast majority of government agencies don’t yet think cyclists deserve equal rights to and safety on the road.

  • Jameslj

    The situation isn’t ideal but instead of calling for enforcement we should be putting more pressure on the city to finish the project. To drivers, the bike lane looks like a fine place to pull over.

    Once it is done I’ll be sitting on the corner with the SFMTA dispatch on speed dial.

  • Richard Mlynarik

    Yeah, having Valencia be hopping all day and night just totally sucks.

    Let’s go back to 1995, get rid of the awful bike lanes, get rid of all the restaurants, and bring back Old Wives Tales book shop with no customers and  Valencia Auto Parts.

    Then we can install Protected Bike Lanes.

    It’s a city, people.  Deal with it.  Cars suck.  Drivers are psychopaths.  You’re preaching to the converted here.  (I’ve gotten into near-physical shouting matches with dicks blocking the lanes on Valencia.  I get it.)  But the fact is that Valencia Street in the City of San Francisco is a joy compared to nearly any other urban cycling route anywhere in the country.

    If you want a better city, get all cars off Market where it would really make a difference.  The double-parking on Valencia is just a small irritation.

  • Anonymous

    True: we do need to keep pushing to finish the project. But even with concrete dividers, I guarantee that cars will *still* park in the bike lane. I just saw it happen this morning on Easter Cesar Chavez’s green bike lane separated by a buffer with soft-hit posts from traffic. I pick-up truck making an illegal u-turn, turned left into the opposite side bike lane between the soft-hit posts and waited there to complete the rest of his illegal u-turn.

    We must use both the tools of enforcement and those of good design to solve the problem.

  • They are illegally parking for the evil bank of america atm..I will email their manager and we all need to move our money to local community credit unions!

  • Justin

    You can always  request a “call number” from SFMTA dispatch, and then follow up on it later. I call often, and it usually takes an extra minute or two to get the number, making me think they may not log the call otherwise. When calling back to follow up, they are usually confused, put you on hold several times, and then say they have no record of the call or say “ticket not issued” (usually because I’m complaining about cars blocking the street in the Mission, and a nearby church means they won’t write tickets).  It appears the officers that respond to phone-ins are the ones in Ford Focuses, and usually take 1-2 hours to respond.

  • Richard has a point. Valencia is bad, but I’d chose it in a heartbeat over Mission, S. Van Ness, Guerrero… OTOH, Capp has its charms.

  • Gisela Schmoll

    I already talked to him about this. He said its not his job.

  • 66 City

    Police need to be on agile machines to really bust the driving scofflaws: traffic enforcement should also be done from bicycles or the small “enduro” motobikes SFPD sometimes uses. Regular police cruisers, or fat motorcycles, can’t move well through traffic to actually bust the jerks who do the dangerous driving.

    If I was a bike cop, I could write a ticket every 10 minutes just riding between Russian Hill and the Mission, citing dangerous distracted drivers on Polk, Market, and Valencia.

    How can we pressure the SFPD to use the right tool for the job?

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