Double-Parked Driver Chokes Wiggle Intersection; SFPD Nowhere to Be Found

Yesterday evening I returned to the Wiggle, where reports continue of SFPD officers targeting bicycle commuters rolling stop signs. To my surprise, there were no police to be found during their typical shift at about 6:45 p.m., but I did find a driver double-parked right behind the crosswalk on Waller and Steiner Streets. In the exact same spot where officers can usually be spotted admonishing bike commuters for doing an “Idaho stop,” the driver of this car pretty much put every passerby in danger for at least the ten minutes I was there, and faced no consequences.

There’s hardly a more hazardous place for someone to park: He was forcing all the drivers and bicycle riders behind him to pass in the oncoming lane, right at a crosswalk, blocking the visibility of people crossing the street. (Perhaps he could have done more damage by parking in the crosswalk itself, but another motorist I spotted beat him to that at the corner of Haight and Pierce Streets. When I pointed out to that driver that he was blocking a crosswalk, he simply told me, “I’m waiting for someone,” and didn’t move.)

In the last few minutes of the scene above, you can watch the driver refuse to move from this dangerous spot even as other drivers honk and argue with him. Three other drivers can be seen waiting behind for a chance to pass safely — and with the frequency of motor vehicle and bike traffic turning into their path, it’s a wonder no one crashed.

“Enforcing double parking should be high on SFPD’s list for a way to make our streets safer and more convenient for all,” said Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk SF, who said the organization has gotten behind Supervisor Scott Wiener’s recent efforts to bring more attention to the abysmal state of enforcement. “Double parking is not only an inconvenience, it’s a safety hazard. Pedestrians’ visibility is threatened, bikes have to swerve into oncoming traffic, and it aggravates drivers, creating an unsafe condition for all.”

“We understand that there are a lot of competing priorities for SFPD resources in a big city like San Francisco, which is why it makes the most sense to focus on areas that are the highest risk to pedestrian safety,” she added. “We encourage SFPD to prioritize enforcement where people are being seriously injured and tragically killed.”

But it’s easier to find SFPD officers double-parking themselves than to see them handing out tickets for it. The reason I had stopped by the Wiggle on my way to a meeting yesterday was to investigate a report from reader Jym Dyer, who said that on Wednesday evening, police doubled parked in basically this same spot, “actively creating a hazard here, even worse than the one Sgt. Ernst created. It’s a disgrace.”

[SFPD] double-parked a police car with no lights on Waller, about two car lengths west of Steiner. Nighttime bike commuters heading north on Steiner can’t see what’s behind the stopped car. Not sure what the point of it is, except maybe to lure us further into the intersection just to figure out what’s going on, at which point they have a pretext to write a ticket.

I stood and watched for a while, and it’s hard to see cars going east on Waller, even with their lights on, because the view is blocked by the police car! Even worse, I’ve seen some motorists zip around the police car directly into oncoming bike traffic. None of these motorists were ticketed.

The SFPD says its Wiggle crackdowns are sparked by complaints from neighbors and a keen interest in safety for people walking and biking. But when you see someone in a car create a hazard like this for an extended period of time at the very same location — with impunity — it’s tough to take the department’s commitment to safety seriously.

SFPD Park Station Captain Greg Corrales has yet to respond to an email requesting comment on the video.

  • Anonymous

    I agree this is outrageous behavior by at least two drivers. Remember you can call 311 to request parking & traffic enforcement anytime. When I’m not in a time crunch, I try to stop and call in any car I encounter blocking in the bike lane.

  • davistrain

    “I’m waiting for someone” Who? Monsieur Godot?

  • Jim

    Usually, by the time that DPT gets there, the driver will have moved on. If the driver is sitting in the car, they’ll usually get shooed away by the officer. The only time the driver will get a ticket is if they are not in the car and the officer has started writing the ticket, that or DPT will take a photograph of the car and license plate, and mail the ticket.

  • NoeValleyJim

    What is his driver’s license number?

  • NoeValleyJim

    Everytime I call 311 I get put on hold these days.

  • Mrjhnsn

    This was likely a Lyft, Sidecar or UberX…. this is one of the problems with unchecked numbers of unmarked and unregulated taxis flooding our streets. A properly trained cab driver does not do that and even if they did the vehicle is clearly marked as a taxi and you as a driver, pedestrian or bicyclist expect that kind of driving behavior from a taxi and adjust for it. You do not expect that from just any old car that is not marked for that kind of operation.

  • Mike M

    Blame it on the new fake taxis.

  • sebra leaves

    I blame double parking on the lack of street parking. If you remove legal street parking spaces, and or confuse people about what is legal, they are left with no option but to double park.

  • gneiss

    Sebra – you remain misinformed as usual. The double parking on Waller takes place along streets where every bit of curb that can be has been converted into on-street parking. There are no bulb outs or other structures, no daylighting, or other features that might have removed any on street parking for at least a decade. The nearest location where parking has been removed is along Oak Street, which is easily three blocks and a 10 minute walk away from Waller. Only driveway curb cuts, fire hydrants, and cross walks remain without parking. There is no confusion over what is legal or illegal.

    Now, if there were meters along some of the streets, then perhaps there might be more spaces available for short term parking, but I suspect that you would be against that solution.

  • Lego

    Car license plate number?

  • Lego

    “no option” There are many options to get around San Francisco without a car. We are lucky for that.
    “confuse people about what is legal” – so you justify just doing what is undoubtedly illegal, since it’s so easy to understand?
    So close to the intersection – even without the law, this is very selfish and dangerous, as if they were the only street user. Zero circumspection.

  • NoeValleyJim

    We need to remove all the onstreet parking on that block and paint the curb white instead. Then people will be able to drop off passengers without having to double park.

  • mikesonn

    No proof of that and taxis double park ALL the time. Hell, the city has made it legal for them to park in the bike lane.

  • 94103er

    In other words, nothing has changed in terms of parking here since the 1950s at the latest. If anything, more cars can park around here because cars are smaller now.

  • SFwalker

    Ticketing double-parkers would of course have some direct coercive effect on violators and might deter some repeat violations. The problem is that the will, resources, and opportunities of law enforcement to ticket violators is limited. On the other hand, official criticism and peer pressure are responses that don’t necessarily suffer from these limitations. The app SF311 provides an easy means for publicizing violations. If SFPD could be convinced to mail “warnings” to owners of vehicles that are SF311-photographed double-parking, violators might be discouraged from future bad behavior. Repeat offenders might receive a telephone call. DMV records of car ownership is difficult, but not impossible, to obtain. An NGO with a legitimate purpose might be qualified to obtain access to DMV. If so, an organization might also exert some appropriate “peer pressure” and “education” to violators.

  • NoeValleyJim

    Ahem, yes that is what I meant to ask. Though the former would be amusing to have as well! 🙂

  • Ryan Brady

    Since you’re ok with illegal and unsafe behavior resulting from inconvenience, I hope you’ll also give all cyclists a pass if they “blow through” stop signs and red lights.

  • Ryan Brady

    Yeah, but for the most part taxis are aware enough to check their mirrors and signal well in advance. I also don’t generally see them *stay* in the bike lane longer than it takes to drop off or pick off a fare.

    Untrained rideshare drivers are way more dangerous IMO.

  • Ryan Brady

    Time to set up a system where people can submit video of violations for a mailed citation.

  • mikesonn

    I wish taxi drivers were aware, just not what I see on the roads. Untrained rideshare drivers are just regular every day drivers so in that respect I completely agree that they are dangerous.

  • Anonymous

    What?

    I’ve seen taxis show up for SFO pickups and double park in front of houses for nearly 20 minutes while they wait for their not-ready fare and then load up all the bags, install a child seat, cajole the child into the car, etc…

  • Anonymous

    “they are left with no option but to double park”

    Housing costs more than a lot of people can afford to pay, so they are left with no option but to sleep in the street. Since we are down with that mindset, stop ragging on the homeless people who have been given no other option.

  • MBDElf

    I guess we can add Mercedes drivers to the meme about BMW drivers (unlike a porcupine cuz the pricks are on the INSIDE).

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