Eyes On the Street: When a Cop Blocks a Bike Lane

_2.jpgAn SFPD motorcycle parked in the bike lane on Market Street between 8th and 9th.

San Francisco’s Traffic Code states that a motorcycle officer or the driver of any other emergency vehicle is allowed to park in a bike lane when "engaged in emergency services." California code is a little less clear but Streetsblog tipster Andrew Turley points out that cops obstructing the bike lane can create dangerous conditions for cyclists forced to merge into busy traffic. He came upon an officer parked in the bike lane on Market Street between 8th and 9th today. He sent these pictures and his account of what happened when he confronted the officer, who was preparing to eat a plate of eggs at Sam’s Diner:

I asked him if the motorcycle parked in the bike lane was his. He told me that it was. I told him that I thought he should move it since it was dangerous to block the lane like that. He responded by saying that there was enough room for a bicycle to get around the motorcycle. There was some space to the left of the motorcycle. However, it seems dangerous to assume that a cyclist can easily just go around on a busy street like Market, especially on a rainy day like today.


We’re told by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition that different officers give different takes on protocol for parking their vehicles in the bike lane. What we really need, says Neal Patel, the SFBC’s community planner, is for the orders to come down from the top that officers should quit blocking the bike lanes with their vehicles when it’s not an emergency.

That might happen. SFPD Sergeant Lyn Tomioka sent us an email with this response:

I am confident the Captains can talk with their personnel and correct this problem. I am sorry for the problems that this issue has caused.

She suggested Turley forward his complaint to the Office of Citizen Complaints. 

Have you seen other examples of flagrant bike lane parking? Add to our feed by
tagging bookmarks in del.icio.us with for:sf.streetsblog, pictures in Flickr with sf.streetsblog, or videos in YouTube with sf.streetsblog. 

  • These are the same clowns that ride up the sidewalks, on the wrong side of the street, and down the Muni rights-of-way during Critical Mass, causing a much greater danger to everybody than does the Mass itself. They have to be on the force for years before they get to the top of the waiting list for motorcycle duty, so their sense of entitlement is truly robust by the time you see them riding the streets of San Francisco.

  • I’m surprised Mr. Turley wasn’t arrested for assaulting an officer. And Jeff Baker above is right about most SF motorcycle policemen’s sense of entitlement, not to mention their often outrageous girth. Compare them sometime with the police on bicycles who in contrast usually seem very fit and cheerful.

  • A friend of mine related an experience she had yesterday in the Polk bike lane, heading north — a bicycle cop was careening down the hill towards her, going the wrong direction, in her bike lane. she moved to avoid him. he continued to smoke his cigar. no joke. he very well may have been fit and cheerful while so engaged 😉

  • At 16:45 one afternoon last year:




  • It’s baffling that some police officers have so little respect for the law, and their behavior seems to be tolerated by their Captains. The first step in quality community policing would seem to be to obey the law yourself, as the enforcer and (bad in this case) example.

    This is simply corruption, albeit at a mild level. If stopping this in their district was a criteria for advancement for the officers in command the situation would be cleaned up quickly.

  • Today at about 3pm in the same area of Market, across the street from the Whitcomb hotel there were four or five large tour busses parked in a row. They nearly took up the entire block.

    When I first entered the traffic lane to go around, I thought it was just one bus but it looked like a giant bank of white busses.


  • My favorite is when they stop people in the bus lane instead of making them pull around the corner. I’ve got pictures around here somewhere…

  • No, David, the culture of corruption is deep rooted in the SFPD. Exemplifying the disconnect between the enviro and social justice communities, the current SFBG has an outline of SFPD misconduct with respect to enforcing the law and policies of the City that deals with the old canards of traffic stops and immigrants. These are important matters to be sure, but imagine if there were a coalition between enviros and social justice types to command the SFPD to adopt as its enforcement priorities OUR enforcement priorities?

    So long as finite cop resources are put up against infinite crimes, triage must occur. That triage happens in each cruiser each day according to the subjective preferences of any given cop. I’d prefer some hand holding, that the work plan of each cop each day reflect the goals of the City.


  • About the bus parking lane, I mean bike lane, it happens on Weds at 8th and Market when the matinee of Wicked gets out at the Orpheum. Every Weds since the show has started. Usually about six or seven buses. The only Police Officers I have ever had problems with in SF are the motorcycle officers. Some are so mean and nasty it is not to be believed. I always think wow – if they treat a little white woman like that – what must it be like to NOT be a little white woman and have this guy in your face? Yikes.

  • This also annoys me… perhaps not as much as donut munching cops, but annoying nonetheless.

  • I confronted a pair of police officers at Market and Van Ness (North bound, cruiser blocking entire lane on north side of intersection) with one officer standing outside the passenger side of the car speaking to the officer driving the car.. Because the cruiser was 2 feet from the sidewalk and right at the corner, there was no choice for the 9 cyclists I was with but to dodge into moving traffic. If I had done so, my 4 yo son (on the back of my bike) and I would have had to cut off a plumbing van to move around the cruiser. Instead, I rode right up to them and pointed out that they were blocking the lane. When they started to get aggressive with me, insisting they were talking about an earlier accident at the intersection, I pointed out there was nothing happening now, and that had I been hit by the van while trying to get around them, they would have been responsible for my son being injured. I pointed out that they are paid to protect me and my son, not put us in danger simply to have a conversation that could be taken elsewhere. I also pointed out the 2 cars double parked a block ahead that were blocking the path- that there was no way to get them to stop if police officers won’t, especially if the same officers make no attempt to ticket double parkers right in front of them. The officer admitted I had a point.

    I have decided to start confronting this issue more often. Taking pictures and putting them out there to the public. Enough is enough. Protect me, don’t endanger me

  • Adrienne,

    Whoa, you are one tough cookie. Good for you! Parking in bike lanes is evil and produces bad karma. We need to get the word out.