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Mayor Vetoes Bike Yield But Advocates Must Never Yield to Regressive Politics

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The veto of Bike Yield can't be permitted to discourage advocates for safe streets. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The veto of Bike Yield can’t be permitted to discourage advocates for safe streets. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Mayor Edwin Lee officially vetoed the “Bike Yield” ordinance yesterday. Without enough votes to override, supporting supervisors will have to figure out a compromise plan, such as a pilot project. The bill’s author, Supervisor John Avalos, already prepared for that contingency. Not surprisingly, Avalos was frustrated with the Mayor’s veto. “SFPD has focused traffic enforcement on places where bicycling is common instead of on high collision corridors. It is clear we have a ways to go with our Vision Zero efforts,” he said in an email to Streetsblog.

The veto is also an opportunity for safe-streets advocates to take stock and get clarity on what transpired.

First, the Mayor’s veto. He said he is “not willing to trade away safety for convenience.” In response, Avalos wrote that “it’s disappointing to hear the Mayor confuse smart, targeted traffic enforcement with ‘convenience.'” The Mayor has often referred to the ordinance as if it would have legalized the “Idaho Stop” in San Francisco; that means allowing cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield. Of course, that’s not the proposal, as this excellent editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out last September. Streetsblog has also attempted to clarify—multiple times.

Avalos and the other bill sponsors were responding to complaints from cyclists on the Wiggle and elsewhere because SFPD was cracking down on safety-minded cyclists for not coming to an absolute stop at stop signs. Cyclists might like an Idaho Stop law, but the proposed Bike Yield ordinance did not actually go there. It can’t go there; San Francisco can’t change state traffic laws.

All the ordinance would do is instruct the San Francisco Police to make citing cyclists who roll carefully through stop signs the lowest priority, so they can instead focus invaluable, finite law-enforcement resources on stopping dangerous traffic violations. In other words, the law was attempting to cajole the police into pursuing “Vision Zero” and the “Focus on the Five” most dangerous behaviors. Every minute a cop spends writing a ticket for a cyclist who went through a stop sign at less than six mph, is a minute he’s not out looking for a crazy cyclist who blew through a stop sign at 25 mph; or speeding cars that regularly kill people.

“We must focus our scarce traffic enforcement resources on behaviors that are creating dangers,” said Supervisor Scott Wiener, a supporter of the Bike Yield ordinance. Police need to focus on cyclists who are “blowing through stop signs and red lights. Or doing things that actually put people in danger.”

Put simply, the Mayor vetoed a law that would have re-directed finite police resources from technical but benign offenses to things that hurt and kill.

Ironically, nobody illustrated the total disconnect better than Bike Yield opponent SFPD Captain John Sanford, whose crackdown helped start the whole thing. He was caught on video safely rolling through a stop sign on his bike; a practice he says creates “chaos on our streets.” On the same page of his newsletter where he explained his opposition to Bike Yield, he wrote that his law enforcement approach is “guided by my Christian faith.” Given the double standard, maybe he means in the spirit of the Spanish police of 1478?

Joking aside, deputies at city hall confirmed that the next step is likely a pilot Bike Yield on the Wiggle. Not great, but “it’s certainly better than the status quo,” said Wiener.

That may sound discouraging. But remember: San Francisco bike-share began as a 400 bike pilot. It’s now starting a ten-fold expansion. San Francisco now has miles of bike lanes. There are raised bike lanes on the way on Polk, Second and Masonic. This started with pilots on Market.

In other words, setbacks happen. Let’s hope Bike Yield will pass after it is reintroduced as a small pilot–and then grow into a larger change.

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Streetsblog Talks with the SF Bicycle Coalition Interim Executive Director

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Margaret McCarthy, Interim Executive Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Photo: SFBC

Margaret McCarthy, Interim Executive Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Photo: SFBC

This week Margaret McCarthy began a six-month term as the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Interim Executive Director. She replaces Noah Budnick, who resigned last year. She starts with the SFBC in the midst of new and ongoing projects and, perhaps, a touch of residual tension after its first contested board elections. McCarthy is not a new face at SFBC, where she worked as Volunteer Coordinator and Program Director. Streetsblog sat down with her at SFBC’s new digs on Market Street to talk about the police, the politics, the plans, and the future of cycling in San Francisco.

Streetsblog: What’s first on your agenda for the SFBC?

Margaret McCarthy: So many things! I’m learning about some budgetary processes which I’m totally excited about. Those are the things that keep the organization running. In addition, there are some exciting bike projects coming up in 2016. For example, raised bike lanes on Masonic Street, Second Street, Polk Street–construction should begin on all of those in 2016. We’re excited about prospects for Page Street, a busy bike route that could certainly use some improvement. And I’m excited about the expansion of Bay Area Bike Share. Just to name a few!

SB: Tell me more about the raised bike lanes.

M: Right here on Market Street there is a two-block demonstration project. The SFMTA is trying four different treatments. It’s about the height of the lane, the slope, and the curb access and they want to see a few different things to see what’s going to be the most effective type of raised bike lane for San Francisco.

SB: How are they doing the intersections?

M: The bike lane slopes back down to street level. But this is a test project that will inform other projects. However, on 2nd street it will include raised sidewalks and bike lanes across the alleyways to slow car traffic coming out. The Caltrans raised bike lane guidelines did leave it open for bike lanes to go back to street level at intersections. The SFBC was disappointed and suggested it should have been better. The raised lane should persist across the intersections.

SB: What else do we have to look forward to in 2016?

M: Bay Area Bike Share expansion. This is going to be magnificent. We have under 400 bike-share bikes in SF right now. Very nice pilot, but it’s small. And with the expansion SF is going to go up to 4500 bikes. So I’d call that a significant expansion.

SB: Those are all in the city of SF?

MM: Yes, but with even more Bay Area-wide. This is huge! When it’s complete, SF will have the densest bike-share system in the US. How’s that!

SB: Pretty exciting.

M: (motioning to the window) I want one right here.

SB: It’d be crazy not to. Even if your office wasn’t here, it’s Valencia and Market.

M: And you’ve got to get off the streetcar here to go down Mission.

SB: What about the Bay Bridge bike path?

M: Obviously, we want a connected Bay Bridge. People would love to bike across it. But bridges are really slow projects. There are going to be meetings to get feedback on things such as “where would you like this to land?” or “Is ten feet suitable or do you need 15?”

SB: SFPD?

M: (laughs) Those are some letters.

SB: Captain Sanford made it official that he hates bikes, did you hear?

M: Did he say that to you?

SB: (laughs) No. But he did officially say he’s against Bike Yield in his department newsletter. What do you do about law enforcement priorities?

M: This is really about Vision Zero. The SFPD has committed to “focus on the five.” This means they need to be focusing on the five most dangerous behaviors in the five most dangerous locations on a per-district basis. They have that data. And they have been charged by the chief with data-driven enforcement. And this is really where we want to see the SFPD move in 2016–fulfilling their commitments and keeping the promises.

SB: Focus on the five. Data driven. That’s great but I have yet to see the data that says bike rolling stops is one of the five.

M: Exactly! It’s not. They have the data. It’s not one of the five.

SB: What else comes to mind?

M: Oh gosh. We just have a lot of great projects. We’re expanding our community bike-build program. We partner with different locally based community groups and we take reclaimed bicycles from the MTA, from the police department and working with these community groups we redistribute them to their constituents. We run a workshop where we do basic maintenance together. They get to pick out a bike that’s the right size and fit for them. We offer a free bike education class. And then at the end of the day the participants get to keep the bicycle so this is a program that is taking bikes that have been sitting, often in warehouses for years, rusting. We get them into the hands of more San Franciscans who want to ride.

SB: So there was a little bit of a schism at the SFBC. Can you tell us what that was about and how you’re dealing with it?

MM: So, it sounds like you’re referring to the recent board elections, is that correct?

SB: Was there a schism I don’t know about?

M: No! Just want to make sure. So as you probably know on Dec. 30 we closed the board election here and we had more members than usual decide to run. We are extremely fortunate—I know many non profits have difficulty recruiting members to run for their board, so I think we’re in a great position with so many engaged, passionate members who want to serve the organization in this capacity. We’ll see what the results of that are, but regardless, I’m really looking forward to working with this group of people who are committed to making San Francisco a safer city for biking and living.

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Cyclist Pepper Sprayed by Motorist

The driver of this Cadillac allegedly buzzed and pepper sprayed a cyclist Tuesday. Photo: Danica Helb

The driver of this Cadillac allegedly buzzed and pepper sprayed a cyclist Tuesday. Photo: Danica Helb

Danica Helb, a 35-year-old scientist and researcher at the University of California in San Francisco, was riding her bike on 16th Street Tuesday afternoon from her lab at San Francisco General Hospital to her office in Mission Bay, something she’s done three times a week for the past six years.

Between Mississippi and Owens, the traffic lanes narrow and “you lose the designated bike lane and there’s no shoulder,” she explained. That’s where a black Cadillac squeezed past at high speed within “six inches,” she said. That, despite the fact that there was ample space in the next lane and several other cars had just passed safely.

The incident left her shaken, so she glided a few car lengths ahead to where the Cadillac had stopped at a red light. She knocked on the window. The driver said “Go away, I’m not talking to you.” Helb replied: “Excuse me, you have to give cyclists three feet when passing, please be more careful.”

At that point the driver, whom Helb described as an African America woman, 45-to-55, and heavy set, started screaming. She rolled down the window and shouted “You better get out of here!” as she pulled out a spray can. Helb backed off. But the driver sprayed anyway. She dodged most of the orange mist, but the wind managed to waft some of it towards her. “It got into my throat and eyes,” she said. But she managed to get a photograph of the license plate.

Two witnesses came forward and gave Helb contact information. One of them, who asked only to be identified as Sarah, spoke with Streetsblog. “The cyclist was really shaken up and surprised,” she said. “It was unwarranted the way she was treated by the person in the vehicle.”

Unwarranted and illegal, stressed Andy Gillin, an attorney with the Bay Area firm GJEL. “It could well be a felony. It’s at least a misdemeanor assault,” he said.

The question is, will the San Francisco Police treat it as such?

Helb filed a police report. Carlos Manfredi, a spokesman for SFPD, said an inspector is assigned to the case and will start investigating. “He will reach out to the victim, get more details, reach out to the witnesses as well,” he said.

But going by past experience, Chris Cassidy, a spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, doesn’t have confidence. “The SFPD’s leadership can find hundreds of officer-hours for cracking down on people biking. When you hand the SFPD witnesses’ accounts and license plate numbers, however, they can’t find the time to investigate allegations of assaults against SF Bicycle Coalition members like Danica Helb and Maxwell Wallace ,” he said.

Gillin, meanwhile, said the way to make sure the police investigate is to bring the incident to the attention of bike-friendly San Francisco Supervisors, which Streetsblog did. “We expect SFPD to investigate allegations of assault in all its seriousness, regardless of whether the charge comes from a bicyclist, a car driver, or anyone,” said Ivy Lee, a spokeswoman for Supervisor Jane Kim. “That’s their job and they should do it.”

Manfredi said that’s what’s happening. And while he recommends against confronting drivers, he praised Helb. “She was right to get the license plate and witnesses.”

Helb, meanwhile, said she’ll continue to bike to her appointments. “It’s important to let drivers know when they’re being unsafe,” she said, adding “I’m still going to call them on it.”

Note: GJEL is a Streetsblog sponsor.

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Tonight Is First Community Workshop on Big Bike-Share Expansion

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Photo: ##http://www.sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/bike-sharing##SFMTA##

A huge bike share expansion is coming over the next two years. Photo: Bay Area Bike Share

Near the end of 2015, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a plan to grow Bay Area Bike Share from 700 to 7,000 bikes. That means the City of San Francisco itself will go from having 350 to 4,500 bikes, giving it the largest number of shared bikes per capita in the nation.

The proposal was sponsored by Mayor Ed Lee, and approved by Supervisors Scott Wiener, Eric Mar, Jane Kim, Mark Farrell, John Avalos, David Campos, Norman Yee, and President of the Board of Supervisors London Breed.

“A robust and sustainable bike-share network will allow us to reap the benefits of bike share, including reducing traffic, improving public transit, and stimulating the local economy,” said Supervisor Wiener, in a prepared statement. “Through my work both on the Board of Supervisors and on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, I’ve pushed to bring bike share to San Francisco, and to expand it throughout the city. This is great news for our city, our transit system, and our residents.”

To kick off the expansion, New York-based Motivate, which manages the program, is co-sponsoring public workshops to discuss bike-share locations. According to a statement from Motivate, the public is invited to attend workshops where they live, work, or visit and provide input on potential stations. The first one is tonight.

San Francisco bike-share workshop dates:

January 12th, 2016
District 8 Bike-Share Workshop, co-sponsored by Supervisor Wiener
6:30PM – 7:30PM and 7:30PM – 8:30PM
Harvey Milk Rec Center, 50 Scott St, San Francisco, CA 94117
January 20th, 2016
District 6 Bike-Share Workshop, co-sponsored by Supervisor Jane Kim
6:30PM – 7:30PM and 7:30PM – 8:30PM
Gene Friend Rec Center, 270 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
January 21st, 2016
District 9 Bike-Share Workshop, co-sponsored by Supervisor David Campos
6:00PM – 7:00PM and 7:00PM – 8:00PM
Mission Neighborhood Center, 362 Capp St, San Francisco, CA 94110

The workshops are offered twice on each date and are tailored to the areas where they are held. If you can’t make one, there’s also a bike-share website for making station suggestions.

Other Bay Area cities, such as Emeryville and San Jose, approved similar contracts. Oakland and Berkeley are working to finalize agreements with Motivate. Motivate manages bike share systems in ten cities spread throughout the US plus Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada.

“The easier we can make it for people to get out of our crowded Muni buses and off our congested streets, the better our transportation system is for everyone,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, whose district was included in the original pilot program. “And expanding the bike-share program will make it easier for people to choose biking as their mode of transportation.”

The goal is to have the 7,000 bikes available in the Bay Area by 2018.

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My City Bikes Promotes Bike Commuting to Help with New Years Resolutions

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my_city_bikes_san_francisco

A Nielsen survey shows that 37 percent of Americans list “staying fit and healthy” as a top New Year’s resolution. “Losing weight” is close behind it, at 32 percent. That’s not much of a departure from last year. And, sadly, we’ll probably see something else repeated in 2016: most people won’t stick with it. In fact, roughly eight percent will keep those resolutions throughout the year.

My City Bikes, a Palo Alto-based organization with chapters in San Francisco and the East Bay, hopes it can get more people to ride by encouraging them to combine two top resolutions: staying fit and saving money.

“Bike commuting is a trick that can actually make it easier to stick to a fitness and weight loss resolution,” said Sara Villalobos, a spokeswoman for My City Bikes. “By rolling exercise and transportation into one, people can save money and time, which makes it a health habit that is easier to achieve.”

In addition to recommending bike shops that specialize in helping novice cyclists, the company provides a smart phone app to help guide beginners. The MyCityBikes apps provide specialized information for different locations, such as the East Bay and San Francisco. It prompts a user to select whether they are riding as a family with kids or as a commuter, for example. It list streets with dedicated bike lanes, provides safety tips, and shows the mileage of bike trails. It also lists cycling events with times, dates, locations and contact information, such as the Alameda family ride, which is held from 10 to noon on the first Sunday of the month.

They are not the only organization, of course, encouraging more people to get into commuting by bike. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition also offers events and classes for novice cyclists, such as its “intro to urban bicycling” and other cycling courses for adults. Health and physician groups also encourage bike commuting because “moderate activity for 30 minutes per day is effective at reducing risk for diabetes,” said Matt Petersen, Managing Director of Medical Information for the American Diabetes Association. And, he points out, diabetes risk factors overlap with heart disease and cancer.

Bike advocates have long argued that the best way to get new people bike commuting—and therefore healthier—is with improved infrastructure such as the long-awaited protected bike lane on Second. Or getting cars completely off Market Street. And census data shows that, albeit slowly but surely, Bay Area investments seem to be working. It’s hoped the health of the city will improve along with it.

In fact, several of San Francisco’s supervisors, including Jane Kim, have cited the health benefits of cycling as a reason to support the Bike Yield ordinance. “We need to make it easier for individuals to get out of their cars and onto bikes,” said Kim.

Either way, “Hopefully this year more people than ever will resolve to make cycling and other active transportation options part of their commutes,” said Villalobos. “We want to help them stick with it.”

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Streetsblog Talks with Supervisor John Avalos About Next Step for Bike Yield

John Avalos and his bike during a campaign event

John Avalos and his bike during a campaign event. From his Facebook page.

Supervisor Avalos’s proposed ordinance would make it the lowest law enforcement priority in San Francisco to issue citations for bicyclists who safely yield at stop signs. However the ordinance would not discourage officers from citing bicyclists who fail to slow to a safe speed at stop signs or fail to yield to another vehicle or pedestrian.

That’s how Supervisor John Avalos’s office introduced the “Bike Yield” ordinance last August. He was responding to complaints that SFPD focused excessive resources on citing bikers on the Wiggle who carefully roll through stop signs. Mayor Edwin Lee announced that he would veto it. The Board of Supervisors passed it, but without the eight votes necessary to override. A second vote is scheduled for January, but analysts say it’s unlikely the count will change. Meanwhile, Park District Captain John Sanford came out in his December newsletter flatly opposing the ordinance. He wrote “…if we allowed individuals to ignore laws they disagree with or would be better accommodated by not adhering to, such laws would create chaos on our streets.”

But the fight is not over. Avalos took steps so the ordinance can be reintroduced in amended form this year. This may mean a pilot project, a compromise floated by one of the mayor’s deputies. At a meeting in his office at City Hall, Streetsblog spoke with Avalos about the future of Bike Yield.

STREETSBLOG: Tell me the nuances of where we are with the legislation right now.

AVALOS: I have a copy of the file. It’s called a duplicated file. It’s in committee. And it’s ready to go when we say it should be scheduled. And we can make amendments to that; narrow the scope of the work we’re trying to do. We can be more prescriptive about what “yielding” is and more prescriptive about what ways that we can define “low priority” for the police department. Cyclists not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign is not really a dangerous activity that police should be focused on.

SB: Why are they focused on it then? What is really going on here?

A: It’s a cultural issue. People tend to think bicycles are more of a nuisance than an actual way of getting around the city that is carbon free and—when it’s done safely—safe and fun. But people say: “bicyclists are this, bicyclists are that.” There’s a whole range of people who bicycle and they have different behaviors. But one bad incident will represent all of cyclists in San Francisco and that seems to drive people’s opinions.

SB: But the cops are supposed to know better.

A: There is a bias against bicycles in the police department. I mean, we had an incident where a person was hit and killed by a truck on Sixth Street a couple of years back. There was a vigil. One of the officers came by the vigil and told them the dead cyclist was in the wrong. Then we had a person find video footage that showed the truck driver was wrong. But that’s the attitude of police.

SB: I was riding on Valencia yesterday. I counted two trucks and a car stopped on the bike lane. I was passed by cops twice. Neither stopped to cite the vehicles. What kind of legislation can we have that will get the police to enforce the law consistently?

A: That’s what we are trying to do with Bike Yield, by putting some real priorities before them. But they oppose them. And they’re denying that they’re doing anything wrong in their enforcement. We’re fought tooth and nail.

SB: It doesn’t seem like that’s how it’s suppose to work.

A: What’s funny is when the mayor talked about the Wiggle he said “I don’t want to approve legislation that’s purely for the convenience of cyclists.” Well, I think that the officers are doing enforcement that’s convenient to them instead of doing their duty to protect people.

SB: What do you mean by “convenient to them?”

A: It’s convenient to them to not enforce speed limits or cite people who block bike lanes and intersections. Often you’ll see police officers stop their own cars right in the middle of an intersection, forcing pedestrians to go into the street to cross. That’s very common. Officers will block Muni traffic when they can actually find a place to park, but they don’t care—it’s whatever is convenient to them and they say “well, I’m a police officer and I’m enforcing the law and therefore I don’t have to follow the law.”

SB: What about getting more SFPD out of cars and onto bicycles themselves so maybe they’ll see things differently?

A: That would be great. We always talk about getting officers out of their cars and onto the sidewalks. And onto the streets with their bikes. But the police are very resistant to change. I’m sure I’m not considered very well by the police because of my efforts.

SB: Bottom line—next step for the legislation is a Bike Yield pilot project?

A: Yes, if the veto can’t be overridden. Yes.

This interview was edited.

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“Just Transit” Contest Winner to Straighten Out Caltrain Station Mess

Back in October, the Schmidt Family Foundation announced its “Just Transit SF Challenge,” a contest to come up with good transit improvement ideas that can be implemented quickly. The three winners were announced this month.

Bike lanes as currently configured at Caltrain. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The current street situation at Caltrain. Photo: Bryan Goebel

The $125,000 first prize went to RideScout and TransForm, which are partnering to improve transit using financial incentives. In many cities, off-peak transit tickets are discounted to encourage people to ride trains and buses when they are less crowded. This project exploits modern technology to take things further, offering discounts for people to ride when loads are light or even encouraging them to use a less direct route if it will reduce crowding.

The grant will pay for the fare discounts the first year, during which the grantees will study to what extent financial incentives can work, using smart phone technology, to change travel patterns. After that, they’ll have to get SFMTA and BART to buy in. That may mean charging more at peak times and on heavily-crowded routes to offset the expense. Either way, it should bring in more revenue by making sure trains and buses have fewer empty seats on off-peak routes. In this sense, the project is trying to apply the kind of math airlines use to make sure planes don’t fly with empty seats.

Another winner addresses a problem that’s all too tangible to anyone who has ever used Caltrain’s King Street Station.

“Curbing the Caltrain Cluster,” which won a $50,000 award, is a joint project from Livable City and Lyft. How will it work? Suppose you get off your Caltrain and need a Lyft. The way things work now, you end up wandering past Muni buses, bikes, cars, and through the taxi queue trying to find your ride. “Curbing the Caltrain Cluster” proposes numbered stalls, so that when you call your Lyft, Uber, or whatever service, it also tells you to go to stall number 9, for example.

So when a Lyft driver heads over to Caltrain and looks at his app, “It will say your rider will proceed to ‘X’ location,” explained Scott Reinstein, development and communications director for Livable City. The plan is also to separate cars, buses, and bikes as much as possible.

Read more…

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“Bike Yield” Passes Without Enough Votes for Veto Override

The Bike Yield ordinance was heard by the full San Francisco Board of Supervisors yesterday. It passed, with six “ayes” and five against — two “ayes” short of what’s needed to override Mayor Edwin Lee’s veto pen.

The San Francisco Examiner reports that mayoral spokesperson Christine Falvey was ready with a response. “The mayor believes this endangers pedestrians and other cyclists and he said he will veto it in the interest of public safety,” Falvey said right after the vote.

The legislation would instruct the police to make ticketing cyclists who cautiously roll through a stop sign, while still yielding to others, a low priority. Yet District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell said he was voting against it because he doesn’t want an “Idaho Stop,” referring to that state’s traffic laws, which allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yields. He noted that San Francisco is denser than Idaho.

Idaho isn’t the only place that gives cyclists more discretion at traffic control devices, however. Paris also permits cyclists to do rolling stops in some locations. In fact, Paris even allows cyclists to treat some red lights as yields. Paris is roughly three times denser than San Francisco.

Supervisor Scott Weiner, a sponsor of the bill, tried to get the arguments back on point, reminding others that the ordinance can’t change state traffic laws, and was written to dissuade cops from cracking down on cautious cyclists. “I don’t think that’s how we should be using our law enforcement resources while people are getting hit and dying on our streets,” he said.

Read more…

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Two Bay Area Cyclists Cut Down By Drivers in One Day

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Goettingen Street lacks any design measures to discourage speeding. Image via Google Street View

While out with friends last night in West Portal, I mentioned that a cyclist was killed in San Francisco that morning. One of my friends corrected me and said “no, it was San Jose.”

My heart sank as I realized two Bay Area bicyclists had been cut down in separate incidents.

In San Jose, a bicyclist was struck by a pickup truck driver near Martial Cottle Park, as reported by InsideBayArea. “It does not appear that speed was a factor,” said San Jose Police Sergeant Todd Lonac. “It just appears to be a tragic accident.”

Ruling out excessive speed alone, however, does not absolve the driver. We still don’t know if texting or some other form of distraction was a factor. It’s too early in the investigation and not enough information is available for the cops to tell the public it was a faultless “accident.”

In Portola, meanwhile, a 63-year-old bicyclist was killed by a 26-year-old motorist who was apparently speeding and driving on the wrong side of Goettingen Street. The case was extreme enough that the SFPD arrested the driver on “suspicion” of vehicular manslaughter.

Read more…

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Bike Yield Law Passes Transportation Committee

SF Supes John Avalos, Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen listened to comment on the Bike-Yield Law

Supes John Avalos, Scott Wiener and Malia Cohen listened to comment on the Bike-Yield Law. Photo: SFBC

Yesterday the Land Use & Transportation Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to instruct SFPD to, in effect, allow cyclists in San Francisco to treat stop signs as yields. The proposal will now go before the full San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Dec. 15.

Supervisors John Avalos and Scott Wiener voted “aye” on the proposal, with Malia Cohen voting “no.” However, Cohen suggested she could support the ordinance if it were amended to become a pilot program, applying perhaps only to the Wiggle, a popular route for San Francisco cycling commuters. The law was written in part as a response to a crackdown on cyclists along the route.

Mayor Ed Lee has vowed to veto the law and Supervisor Norman Yee is opposed. Six supervisors are co-sponsors. So the support of two more of the 11 supervisors is still needed. Cohen’s “no” vote in committee suggests that won’t be an easy lift, at least not without modifying the bill.