SFMTA Increases Fines for Double Parking and Sidewalk Riding

Yesterday the SFMTA Board of Directors signed off on raising fines for double parking, obstructing traffic, and riding bikes on sidewalks to $100. The fines were previously $80, $50, and $50 respectively — “substantially lower than the penalties for similar violations” set in 2010, according to the SFMTA [PDF].

A Muni bus navigates around a double-parked delivery truck. Photo: _carleton/Flickr

Although Director Bruce Oka said increasing fines without increasing enforcement would be “useless” as a deterrent, proponents like Director Joél Ramos stood behind increasing fines on double-parked vehicles, which have been reported as the number-one factor slowing down Muni buses and trains aside from vehicle breakdowns due to poor maintenance.

“When we make transit more efficient by getting rid of double-parked cars or whatever it might be, that translates to operations cost savings,” Ramos said at a board meeting in December. Double-parkers can also endanger people on bicycles, particularly if they are forced into lanes with moving vehicles or rail tracks.

According to the SF Public Press, San Francisco police issued 20,576 double-parking citations (through November 2011) and 372 citations for people riding bikes on sidewalks.

While sidewalk riding is a nuisance for pedestrians, some bike advocates have pointed out that the behavior is mostly a sign that the streets don’t feel safe enough to bike on and that more bicycling education is needed. The increased fines could be a heavy burden on low-income violators who depend on their bicycles but are unaware of the law.

The SFMTA’s 2011 Bicycle Count Report [PDF], released earlier this month, found only 5 percent of bicycle riders using sidewalks — the majority of them on streets with high-speed motor traffic like Lincoln Way, 19th Avenue, the intersection of 17th/Castro and Market, and San Bruno Avenue.

“SFMTA will work with our partners to improve the conditions that create high levels of wrong way and sidewalk riding (speed, lack of bike lanes or vehicle separation, safety, etc.),” the report states.

Although SFPD Commander Lea Militello said at a SFMTA board committee meeting last month that to curb sidewalk riding, “we have to make it hurt,” according to the Public Press, SFMTA Director Cheryl Brinkman told Streetsblog she felt assured by the commander that officers only issue the fines as a last resort after admonishing violators.

  • Guest

    Where was the SF Bicycle Corporation in advocating the interests of cyclists when it comes to riding on the sidewalk? Sometimes riding on the sidewalk is the most dangerous thing to do, sometimes it is the very safest.  But the SFBC is so interested in preserving its access to power, in being perceived as reasonable, that it has lost the will to fight for anything but its pet projects.

  • odlfart

    will buses get ticketed for double parking when they do not pull into a bus zone to pick up passengers, instead block a lane of traffic, causing all the cars behind them to needlessly idle.

  • ideally cyclists would have protected bike lanes and buses would always be forced to stop in the only general travel lane, thus inconveniencing drivers almost as much as bus riders.

    it’s not fair that drivers should be allowed to zoom around town while everyone else waits.

    drivers, in fact, should always be the ones to wait, and wait the longest.

  • John Zamora

    Yes.i agree with odlfart…. I drive along 19th ave and Geary a lot of times… I always get pinned behind a bus because it isn’t fully in the pick up zone. Wy can bus drivers complain when someone is double parked, or idling in their lane, when drivers get stuck behind bus drivers who don’t really follow the rules as well. What’s the point of bus stops and loading zones, if its merely a suggestion

  • Sidewalks are for people

    There are a lot of young techies moving into the Richmond District. In addition to Ellis Act evictions, these migratory workers have their hands full with the ferries and private buses since MUNI is beneath them. Some have taken to two wheelers, but unfortunately choose to ride them on the sidewalk. One young man got irritated when he had to wait for a pedestrian to get off the curb ( the new ones for handicapped) yesterday before he could parade up the sidewalk with his 10 speed, and when told it was against SF ordinances got further upset.
    A young boy who looked like he was over 13 in middle school was riding his bike on the sidewalk with his mother far behind. She was perturbed that he should have to ride on the street and said, it’s only a kid. OK under 13, got it, but it WAS A BIKE! And actually walking the bike would have been fine too. Kids learn young that they don’t have to follow the rules. Mountain Lake Park has signs for NO BIKING in the park, and techies and fathers with middle school kids in tow zoom by at high speeds. Yes it’s safer to use the sidewalk for a biker, but it’s NOT for parents with small children walking or seniors who can’t maneuver quickly or effectively. PLEASE GET OFF YOUR BIKES. WALK THEM ON THE SIDEWALK; and don’t have such a belligerent and defiant attitude if someone points it out. There are many of us doing this now. So please respect us and the law. SF Police is stepping up the surveillance and fines are up to $100 if caught.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I just called the SFMTA enforcement to complained about a beverage delivery truck double parking at the corner of Bacon & San Bruno ave between 9am-10:20am. It was double parked for over 1 hour & 20 min, but still no one came to ticket it. It was blocking traffic. Everyone coming from behind it, had to drive over to the opposite direction of the lane to pass it, while there was constant traffic coming from the opposite direction. It’s a real hazard for all the other drivers. It would’ve been better if the delivery truck double parked in front of a couple driveways, at least only those 2 houses will be inconvenience, not unsafe & inconvenience for the 50 cars that had to pass it. I called SFMTA enforcement 415-553-1200 multiple times just this morning about it. I called at 9:10 am, but needed street block # for them to even file a complain. I went back there to find out block # 100 Bacon St & called again with the info at 9:30am. They said they will sent someone. I parked there & waited. I called 2 more times close to 10am, but calls would ring a few times, then it hangs up on me. I finally got a hold of Kim at 10am, who I gave the info to again & she says it wasn’t her I talked to earlier & that she will take the info down & have someone go there, but not sure how long. I waited till 10:20am when the delivery truck left. Still no one came to ticket it. I called Kim again at 10:35am. She tells me someone was nearby that location now. I told her the truck had left. I asked if someone could go by there every morning between 9-10am to check because I’ve noticed the delivery truck been doing this for the past 2 month. Kim tells me, “No, the person doesn’t come into work until 9 am & by the time they are able to head out, it would be after 9:30am”. She told me she can mention it to the supervisor though. I feel like this department is not doing it’s job & wasting tax payer money.

  • Leon Foonman

    you can afford it

  • I’m late to this party, but oh well.

    The California Vehicle Code allows “motor vehicles” to go onto the sidewalk to access a driveway, provided they do so safely. Since this point of the law uses the phrase “motor vehicles” rather than “vehicles” it does not apply to bicyclists. Most of California has no laws about bikes on the sidewalk, so this is usually pretty moot.

    Municipalities may write laws about bikes on the sidewalk, and for the most part they only ban them in commercial districts. Some have additionally written a version of the “motor vehicle” across the sidewalk to a driveway law to extend it to bicycles. San Francisco, on the other hand, just has a simple and sweeping ban on adult cyclists, and a 2008 simplification of the Traffic Code compounded this further, leading to various absurdities including a ban on crossing the sidewalk (safely) to ride on a driveway.

    The upshot of this? Two things:

    1) The city law’s about sidewalk-riding is arbitrary nonsense, not a moral absolute. (Riding safely and not harming others is the moral absolute.) At bare minimum, the Supes should fix the absurdity at driveways. I would also suggest something to make it legal for parents to accompany children.

    2) The California Assembly should change the wording of that law so that it applies to “vehicles” (and thus to bicycles), not “motor vehicles.”

  • @neutral_corner – Your comment indicates you don’t know the rules of the road, which allow kids* to bike on sidewalks. I trust you don’t operate any vehicle in bicycle on our streets, since you don’t know the law.

    * Most of the state, the nation, and the world also permits adults to bike on sidewalks, as well. San Francisco is an anomaly.

  • neutral_corner

    My awareness of and fidelity to our traffic laws rather clearly exceeds your own, since you — in the same breath — accuse me of not knowing the rules of the road, then ham-handedly acknowledge that San Francisco’s prohibition on sidewalk bicycling is anomalous.

    Keep plugging away.


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