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    KTVU used to have such an excellent news staff, but that was a decade ago. Like most news organizations it’s been hollowed out by budget cuts, and is only a shadow of what it once was. Sad.



    “The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.”
    -Abraham Lincoln



    I have been advised by the San Francisco Bicycle Advisory Committee that I don’t even need to stop. If I roll across the line at 1 mph, I should not get cited, and if I did my chances in court would be good. So no to your point. There is a discrepancy between the spirit and the letter of the law here.



    In the scenario you describe I imagine it would be the same as for a Stop-sign controlled junction. The first car to arrive at the line has right of way regardless of their intended direction. You still have to slow down and if necessary stop for a Yield sign.



    Sorry, that was a bit rough on my part. Either I didn’t fully read your response or just mis-understood it. To be fair, it’s quite possible that in the UK a choice was made between a roundabout and a traffic light or stop sign. I agree with you about roundabouts being a more fluent solution. And about replacing the Stop signs with Yield signs.



    It’s a huge pain in the neck. Most people roll through the stop signs when there’s no need to stop, which is why this ordinance is being proposed. The status quo is stupid in that it makes scofflaws of people who have no wish to break the law and in other ways are law-abiding citizens. It’s broke, it needs to be fixed.



    KTVU’s reporting about urban transportation issues is typically a joke and this segment is no different.



    Er, a (UK) “Give Way” sign is the equivalent of a (US) “Yield” sign. That said, I still prefer roundabouts, because they do a better job of keeping the traffic moving.


    Mesozoic Polk

    Aaron, did you receive the application that @disqus_SEeoxsAvKA:disqus and I sent to become co-editors of Streetsblog? Thanks for your consideration!



    The only empirical evidence of increasing danger is in Idaho, where this law has been followed statewide for 23 years. There has been no increase in bike/car and bike/ped accidents that can be attributed to the Idaho Stop Law. Therefore Suhr’s example is legitimate only in as far as it states laws should not change even when they don’t make sense. As Bialack says, Suhr doesn’t get it. My analysis is he either lacks the thinking power to get it, or he’s just being bloody-minded.

    And to counter your second point: I’ve seen cyclists hit and killed by car drivers, and have been hit and injured myself when following the law.

    To your final point: No, they won’t allow that, and this stop law certainly won’t encourage that.


    Darksoul SF

    The sign says “Stop” not yield unless stated otherwise.



    RichLL, you are mis-informed. Give Way signs just make more sense than Stop signs in many cases. You should try it some time.



    You are quite correct in your analysis. Sanford, Suhr and their like lack the education and experience to have a well-formed opinion on this subject. By this I mean they’ve not ridden bikes regularly in the manner suggested by the new stop prop, so they don’t really know what they’re talking about.


    Darksoul SF

    He made a legit example

    STOP means stop.



    According to the only working model in the country, in Idaho, accident figures didn’t increase when the ‘Idaho Stop Law’ was introduced. So there is no empirical evidence to back your claim, and Suhr’s position reflects more a case of stubborn opinion than clear thinking on an important subject. That’s why I think he lacks the smarts for his job.



    I see the basis for your point, and I agree it now is more heavily incumbent on cyclists than ever to yield right of way. But equally, pedestrians need to exercise restraint when they see a cyclist has entered the junction box before they started crossing, and stay on the sidewalk. I cannot tell you the number of times I, as a cyclist, have been shouted at by an indignant pedestrian who has not yielded when its my right of way.


    Darksoul SF

    Regarding the Bike Yield at Stop SIgn Law… If the law passes – The next law would allow bike people yield at RED LIGHTS.

    If the law really passes..

    The word “STOP” is nothing


    Bob Gunderson

    I should have known Aaron wasn’t finished ruining San Francisco.



    Maybe Chief Suhr is just not qualified intellectually for the job?


    Darksoul SF

    Aaron Bialick are you going take over SFMTA twitter too?



    From the KRON piece:

    At the corner of Van Ness and Union in San Francisco, it’s a busy strip of road. And it’s made all the busier with the big tech buses picking up and dropping off.

    Oh, KRON. It’s made all the less busy by the buses.

    Each bus *replaces* scores of individual cars.

    Get rid of the buses? Many people will just get cars and drive.

    Actually, it doesn’t even take all that many to switch to driving to make the problem disproportionately worse–since such buses’ footprints are barely 2-3x that of an individual car, all it takes is only 2 or 3 of their riders to switch to driving to make congestion calculably worse.

    Also, activists who were actually concerned about housing policy and displacement would bother to show up to protest city council meetings in places like Mountain View, Mill Valley and Milpitas when they decide yet again (this happens all the time) to maintain the single-family-home-only status quo.

    Of course that doesn’t make for as sexy a photo-op as standing in front of a bus (which is far more a symptom of a major problem rather than its cause).

    The housing shortage crisis is a regional issue which every community in the Bay Area needs to reckon for.



    Actually the law is not crystal clear and there is confusion, even among police officers as to how it should be applied. Some people stop but fail to put their foot down and are still cited by the police. Some of the police officers say they won’t cite under those circumstances, but other say they will. This ambiguity was the cause of the uproar from many of the more cautious people who ride bikes more than anything else. What people want is clarity around behavior that is truly dangerous (blowing through intersections) vs. that which is not (yielding and proceeding with caution).



    Sad to see you leave Streetsblog but looking forward to what’s new for both this publication and SFMTA!


    Golden Gate Shark

    That is awesome. I love having someone like you on the inside.. Best of luck



    Enforcement is uneven now, yes, but the law right now is crystal clear.


    David Polse


    Rick Bernardi

    Actually, police have no duty to act if they see you breaking a law. It’s entirely discretionary.



    Regarding the travel incentives to shift some people to use BART during non-peak, rather than “coupons, giveaways or discounts at stores or restaurants near BART stations” which seem clumsy and resource heavy with likely insignificant results, why not do this instead…next time BART plans to raise its fares, raise them for travel done during peak hours and leave off-peak hours at current prices. Peak hour pricing is being used in many applications – why not BART?



    The priority thing only means that if he simultaneously sees a dozen donuts, he will instead pursue them.




    The semi-rural Sausalito intersection without sidewalks, crosswalk or any pedestrian ever?

    Actually, people walk on that stretch a lot more than you might think (often with dogs). Remember, visually narrow shared-space streets can work successfully in SF, too:


    Mountain Viewer

    The semi-rural Sausalito intersection without sidewalks, crosswalk or any pedestrian ever? Sure, *that* intersection could do without the companion “road kill” sign.



    You’re talking about this, right?

    I’ve been here 6 years. When I got here the Bike Plan injunction was still in place, and the city was a terrible place to bike. I’ve seen biking infrastructure improve by leaps and bounds since then.

    I can’t believe that drivers wouldn’t get used to mini-roundabouts with better signage. The one used on the Haight traffic circle pictured in the SF Gate article is a ‘keep right of central divider’ sign, which is totally inappropriate. You need a yellow sign showing how to navigate the roundabout, and a yield sign with the words ‘YIELD TO TRAFFIC IN ROUNDABOUT’ below it for good measure.



    It doesn’t have to be a mandate — if accident rates go down significantly, then there will be a huge difference in insurance costs. When the insurance pool for human driven vehicles shrinks, eventually only high risk users will be left in the human driven vehicle pool. As a result regular vehicles will be economically unfeasible to operate and only a small subset of the population will want to operate a human driven vehicle.



    Replacing stop signs with yield right of way is a good idea but will only work at two way stops, not four way stop intersections.

    You can do this, though:

    (see further comments to jonobate on this topic further down the thread).



    See comment to Chris King below.



    Replacing stop signs with yield right of way is a good idea but will only work at two way stops, not four way stop intersections.

    The problem with the Avalos proposal is it doesn’t seem to acknowledge that stop sign and traffic light violations are covered by different sections of the vehicle code and are of a different magnitudes of seriousness. They shouldn’t be lumped together. Traffic light intersections, especially on Van Ness and on some parts of Polk are deceptively dangerous – and it’s really difficult to tell how fast cars are moving over hilly terrain, especially if you are moving at the same time.

    But it’s really as a pedestrian – I haven’t driven a car in 20 years – that i have difficulty with the traffic light part of the proposed legislation. This morning I started to cross Polk at Clay on the walk signal and was cut off by a bicyclist. It was ok and I know cars are more dangerous but it’s much easier for a pedestrian to see cars and anticipate what they’re going to do at a traffic light. Bicycles often catch you by surprise.



    If we’re talking about minor neighborhood streets here the key is visual narrowing so drivers are unable to go much over a crawling pace in the first place. For example, at this small neighborhood intersection in Sausalito the streets are narrow enough that no one can go much over walking pace:

    In addition, there aren’t even sidewalks so the presence of people on foot in the roadway + street parking + 2-way traffic further slows down vehicular traffic to a crawl. Though practically every time I’ve gone through there there have always been moving cars around I’ve never had a problem on bike or foot there.

    The key is for minor neighborhood streets to be visually narrowed/calmed enough that there’s no real possibility to speed through them in the first place. This has already been done on some streets in SF, but could be done much more pervasively:

    It’s currently being done on Bartlett St in the Mission, formerly resembling your average neighborhood street whose car space was overly wide:

    And becoming a much narrower lane for vehicles–notice how narrow the upcoming travel lane will be compared to what it used to be:



    Moreover, being the “lowest” enforcement priority still means that you can get a ticket. If a cop sees you breaking the law then he is duty bound to act. The priority thing only means that if he simultaneously sees someone doing something worse, he will instead pursue them. And I suspect that is the case now anyway.

    Either something is lawful or it is unlawful. There is not a third category of “unlawful but I will probably get away with it because it is cops’ lowest priority”.



    That works fine too. On a route like the Wiggle you could keep alternating the road that has priority so that traffic following the Wiggle never has to stop.



    If it wasn’t obvious, I am a fan of European-style roundabouts, precisely because they keep traffic moving and don’t require a stop if your exit is clearly safe.

    But do not overlook the cultural resistance of Americans. The dollar is still a paper bill when it clearly should be a coin only because most Americans want a bill.

    Not sure how long you have been in SF but some trial traffic circles were tried in the lower Haight a decade or so ago and were removed because people just drove right over them.

    A yield sign could work. Even 4-way stops rely a lot on eye contact and people being reasonable. It’s not an exact science either. Anyone driving or riding in SF has the same issue – why do I have to stop so many damn times?



    So your argument is that people wont adopt self-driving cars because they would have to use a software interface if they decided to change destination mid-trip.

    Yet, we already do that. Sometimes when I’m in an Uber I realize I need to go to a different location, so I let the driver know I’m changing destination and punch the new address into the app on my phone. That way the GPS the driver is following just updates itself, and I don’t need to explain how to get to the new destination. With a self-driving car the process would be exactly the same, except without the need to give the human driver a heads-up on the destination change.

    I also don’t think you can force this technology onto people. I think people will willing adopt it themselves once it’s been proven safe and becomes affordable. Convenience is king.



    Just to remind everyone, even if this isn’t a very popular comment:
    The Supervisors want SFPD to make this the lowest enforcement priority. It’s not an order to other police agencies that operates in San Francisco.

    This means if the Supervisors gets this proposal approved, other police agencies like the CHP, California State University Police (SF State), UC Police (UCSF), Federal Park Rangers, Federal Park Police, VA Police, etc. don’t have to obey what the Supes say. If you ride your bike, you may want to exercise more caution when going on or near public universities, state buildings, GGNRA and other state and federal properties, because they could stop and cite you for rolling through a stop.

    But be warned, you could be pulled over by any of these non-SFPD agencies anywhere in the city as they have state or nationwide jurisdiction. So if they are driving outside of their normal coverage area and see you roll through a stop, they could pull you over.

    If you want a similar example: If someone has a medical marijuana card and smokes pot in GGNRA territory (federal property), that person will either get arrested or given a citation with a summons to court for arraignment. Park Rangers don’t recognize medical pot cards or the city supes who passed a resolution to make marijuana the lowest SFPD enforcement priority, and will enforce federal laws.


    Darksoul SF

    I thought Aaron Bialick is gone?

    Completely valid for safety -“Stop signs are pretty simple. They say ‘stop,’” Suhr told KQED today. “They don’t say ‘yield,’ they don’t say ‘slow down.’” Suhr added that anyone who violates the letter of the stop sign law “will be cited.”



    Riding a bike once in a year hardly attuned you to the perspective of transportation cyclists. It’s just posturing. And I still claim officers have a responsibility to the very highly paid job to keep themselves fit. Nobody force feeds these guys doughnuts. How can they expect us to respect their position when they clearly do not?


    Mountain Viewer

    You should also put a companion “road kill” sign for pedestrians crossing such an intersection. It’s not all about cars/buses and bikes.



    “Rail” is tongue in cheek, as cheaper still would be to have a fleet of bi-articulated buses in dedicated BRT lanes. Regarding the engineering, I doubt that passenger train structural loading on the bridge would exceed the design which presently accommodates fully loaded freight trucks. (And, the 1939 western span was designed and originally had train tracks.)


    Chris King

    People already run stop signs and red lights like they don’t exist. Drivers are becoming numb to their surroundings more and more. You imagine what it would be like to be a pedestrian and try to cross those streets. No one would stop.



    Short of mini roundabouts, though, it is possible to replace stop signs with yield signs as long as you determine which street yields to whom:

    In order to prevent speeding through traffic on any given street you can alternate which street gets yield signs every other block (this way no one street ever has multiblock-long right-of-way). Other strategies include:

    *bike diverters every other block (bike blvds)

    *turning some streets into one-way streets *but* whose direction alternates every other block. For example, this intersection in the Hague has no signage–not even Yield–because it doesn’t need it. The cross-street changes flow at this intersection, so there will be no through traffic on it in the first place:



    Guess you aren’t using the right sort of bait.



    By that logic, no one lives in SOMA because it’s not cleaner than other areas?