Cop Parked in Bike Lane During Meal Break is “Proper Conduct”?

_2.jpgPhoto by Andrew Turley.

A San Francisco bicyclist who confronted a motorcycle cop over why he was parked in the bike lane on Market Street while on a meal break has received a dubious answer to his complaints from the Office of Citizen Complaints. Andrew Turley filed two complaints against the officer for "Conduct Reflecting Discredit on the Department," one for "being rude about parking in the bike lane" and the other for parking in the bike lane. We wrote about his story back in February. The official response is terse but telling: 

The allegations of Conduct Reflecting Discredit on the Department against a police officer for behaving inappropriately is Proper Conduct.

And Turley’s reaction?

So, in the end the police are allowed to park in the bike lane while eating meals, and presumably while doing anything else while on duty. In addition to potholes and debris, we also need to keep an eye out for patrol vehicles in the bike lanes.

As we’ve written, 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." The California code is less clear.

It was encouraging to see some motorcycle cops recently clearing double parkers out of the bike lanes. But the official response to Turley is further proof that cops can do whatever they please, with no consequences, even if it puts bicyclists in harm’s way. That, of course, is not the official line from SFPD public affairs. Here’s the response from SFPD Sgt. Lyn Tomioka:

We don’t advocate an officer that’s on a meal break to park within a bike lane. We will advocate to those officers, find a legal spot, even if it means driving around, looking for a legal spot. And when I say a legal spot, you know, that is going to sometimes include a fire hydrant, a red zone, that doesn’t present a hazard to the public. Because on the other side of that, you’re a cop, take the red zone, because I have no where else to park. And I mean, that’s been said to me by someone personally in a car and not a bike lane situation, why do you have to take a legal spot? Why can’t you take the fire hydrant? So that’s the other side. We kind of get caught in the middle.

So, in other words, it’s okay to park in a bike lane and put a bicyclist in danger, but it’s not okay to inconvenience a driver? Let’s hope the new police chief will have some stronger advice for his officers. 

  • marcos

    Let’s take the political power that bicyclists represent in San Francisco and bring it to bear on the civilian Police Commission so that Departmental General Orders are amended accordingly.

    Hope makes a great tear jerker of a slogan, and can win elections, but doesn’t change anything itself.

    If the SFBC is not going to get serious about the attitude problem of the SFPD as concerns bicycles, then will the BAC take up the challenge?


  • EdVick

    I’m sure the bicyclist who confronted the cop obeys all traffic rules, too. NOT!

  • @EdVick

    The bicyclist isn’t being paid $$$ by the public to enforce (and obey) traffic rules. The cop is.

  • a

    The official response doesn’t parse very well…

  • s

    @Mike Fogel

    But I’m sure the cyclist would have an equally invalid defense for the litany of traffic laws they violate on a daily basis. Point being if cyclists want to be treated like 1st class vehicles they should expect to be required to follow the law like one.

  • thegreasybear

    @EdVick and S:

    You dismiss the issue of illegal police activity altogether because you just magically decided the whistle-blower broke some traffic law at some point?

    I see how it is–and, by the same token, since both of you have broken at least one law in your lives, your ideas have no merit. I mean, who wants to read self-righteous and hypocritical comments from a couple of criminals like you two?

  • This isn’t a matter of who can be accused of following or not following any given law, it’s a matter of *danger*. Forcing bicyclists to merge with car traffic to get around that motorcycle puts bicyclists’ lives in *danger*. I ride in bike lanes separate from cars whenever possible because it reduces my chances of getting killed. (Physically separated bike lanes would be even better.) If the police officer parks in a bike lane in order to respond to a life or death situation, maybe he/she is justified in jeopardizing bicyclists for that stretch of time. However, I fail to see how eating lunch is grounds for endangering other human beings.

    I saw a cop on a bike making his way west on 18th street this morning and it made me happy. Maybe if more people (including police officers) rode bikes now and again they’d realize just how heinous an act parking in a bike lane is.

  • SfResident

    @S & EdVick

    Who cares if the bicyclist doesn’t obey traffic laws, forgets to give his mother a birthday card, or even enjoys kicking puppies. It’s totally irrelevant to the issue at hand – which is that police officers ought not park illegally when not rendering emergency services. Not only are actions like this dangerous, but they also erode public support for law enforcement.

  • Mike

    Stop whining!

    There is plenty of space in that bike lane for a bicycle to safely pass the motorcycle and remain within the lane.

    The police need to park their vehicles in close proximity to where they are so that can respond quickly to any emergency that occurrs. They can have have their meal interrupted at any time and may need to get on that bike fast! In addition, the officer likely wants to park it where he can keep an eye on itm from vandals.

    Stop your petty whining. get a job.

  • DucLap

    Stop whining about such insignificant things. Cops have to be near their emergency vehicles in case they are called to respond to an emergency. This is such a juvenile, whiney issue that you bring up here. Riding that bike has lowered your testosterone, Timmy. Take a man-pill and worry about bigger issues. 10 Bucks says you are not a native San Franciscan, and that you are not in a happy monogamous relationship, and that your parents hate you.

  • marcos

    @a: “The official response doesn’t parse very well..”

    You need to switch off your English parser module and switch on your CopEse language parser module, and it makes perfect sense. Here’s the parsing:

    “We’re cops, we have the mayor on our side and intimidate the rest because we hate you, so we’re going to whatever we feel like. Sh!t happens, get a car like a normal person.”

    @SFResident: “erode public support for law enforcement.”

    Aren’t the SFPD the least supported and respected of “public safety” [sic] operations in San Francisco? Why would SF residents support an overpaid commuter paramilitary operation that does not keep us safe and hates us for who we are?

    I mean, if we could beat the POA and Feinstein on police reform when they outspent us $400K:$75K, with DiFi’s mug on TV commercials, then the SFPD and POA are inherently vulnerable, veritable paper tigers.


  • Pat

    Well I guess it would make sense then that the SFPD is behind lifting the injuction on bike development since it is going to give them so many more opportunities for parking.

  • thegreasybear

    This discussion here is very telling about San Francisco’s tiny cadre of smug bike-haters: they behave exactly like Washington neo-conservatives.

    Like DC neo-cons, SF bike-haters defend official misconduct reflexively, spitting out unproven and unprovable claims about the world, baseless personal attacks on the whistleblower and his community, and a near-pathological fixation on diverting attention away from the issue at hand: illegal and unjustifiable behavior by SFPD officers that recklessly endangers cyclists’ safety.

  • I realize that it’s difficult for someone who doesn’t ride a bike to comprehend how the motorcycle in the above picture is truly dangerous to bicyclists. Until I started riding a bike regularly in the city, I didn’t understand it either.

    As a person who’s been riding her bike in the city only for the last year, I’d like to thank all the bicyclists before me who, by riding and advocating, have made it possible for me to ride in conditions that, while not as good as they could and need to be, are a heck of a lot better than they were.

  • marcos

    And against this backdrop must we give deep consideration to language in the Bicycle Plan that calls for enforcement against cyclists because the SFPD will ignore the fine print, that the laws enforced must be those most likely to cause injury, because there are no consequences for doing so.

    We need to work with the DPH to ascertain the most dangerous infractions on the part of cyclists and motorists AND the frequency of injury, and program the SFPD enforcement response narrowly to keep us safe. Police enforcement priorities on the CVC should be measured every year to set enforcement priorities to reflect changing realities as measured by public health outcomes.

    The SFPD has proven themselves too prejudiced as an institution to call the shots on CVC enforcement. Hopefully Greg Corrales is preparing to skedaddle and collect his six figure retirement so that someone who gives more of a sh!t about us than he can get on the job.


  • What if the cop was using a Scraper Bike?

  • Rob Valk

    Re: Marc…Your comments are comical. The city’s plan cannot override the Calif. Vehicle Code, as State Law presides over any city ordinance. Under the CVC, bicyclists shall obey all laws as they pertain to motor vehicles, I.E. bicycles can’t run red lights, make illegal turns, have equipment violations (incl. brakes, reflectors, seats, etc). If you don’t like it, change the CVC, but no city law will force the SFPD to only enforce certain bicycle laws. The bicyclist double standard is the usual nonsense.

  • marcos

    @Rob Valk, there are many, many violations of the CVC that take place every day in San Francisco. So many, in fact, that the SFPD cannot enforce the law in all cases. Scoping out a bit, there are many, many violations of California Statude overall every day in San Francisco.

    As such, the department has to triage enforcement and prioritize which laws it is going to enforce. I would bet that the aggregate ratio of CVC violations, auto to bicycle is 5000:1, yet enforcement does not seem to match.

    One definition of politics is that process which society does when it has to solve a large number of problems with a scarce amount of resources.

    If you want to live in a world where we have a police department which is funded to the extent that it enforces each and every infraction of the law, no matter how minor, then you’re asking to live in East Germany. The SFPD budget now is a bit south of $500m annually. I’d imagine for about four times that, we’d see the kind of Stasi coverage that you appear to covet.

    I’d prefer that we see the SFPD take its current budget, figure out where it is most effective and dedicate its resources there.

    We live in an ostensible democracy. We can amend the administrative code to change local law that prohibits city dollars from being spent by the SFPD to enforce laws that we deem not worthy. When law enforcement ignores these laws they are acting illegally. This happens with cannabis.

    We can also change the Departmental General Orders to change the work rules for the cops so that their resources are directed to solving problems where they can be maximally effective, away from problems where they are merely annoyances to residents.

    The fact is that the commuter cops at the SFPD are inclined to make it home alive in order to be one day closer to collecting those 90% pensions. This means that they will always pick the low hanging, safer fruit, and bring their suburban values to bear when an enforcement decision is made. They will bust a homeless person before a drug dealer. They will bust a cyclist before a motorist.

    We need to take out the subjectivity from the SFPD’s enforcement choices, as they’ve proven themselves overtly hostile to the political posture of San Franciscans, and impose objective standards on the SFPD which channels their enforcement priorities to where our political leaders and voters want it rather than whatever some commuter cop from Novato feels like doing today.


  • thegreasybear

    “San Francisco is widely regarded as the red light running capital of America.” –Northern Police Station weekly newsletter, June 26, 2007.

  • Elchingon

    well… is a freaking bike isn’t it????

  • Joe Smith

    Mike and DucLap right on.

    Perhaps the officer in question could have parked his bike a bit better, such as on the wide sidewalk of market street. So that in the event of an emergency the motorcycle is just as accessible and not endangering cyclists.

    No, cyclists are not pulled over more so than cars. Marcos your objectivity is skewed and you dont know what you’re talking about. Go on a ridealong with the busier station of SFPD and see for yourself. Randomly spewing out opinions on a blog behind the comfort of your apartment does not make you an authority on SF CVC/TC enforcement.


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

An 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 […]
Oakland police patrolling in downtown on bikes. Photo: Oakland Police Department

Thoughts on Oakland Police Bike Patrols

The other day, I biked over to a market on Oak Street in Jack London Square. There was a truck driver parked in the bike lane in front of the store, right by an open parking spot. I ended up walking into the store at the same time as an Oakland police officer. So I […]