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Bicycle Safety

Waste of Resources? SFPD Stinging Bicycle Riders at Octavia and Grove

4:00 PM PDT on May 31, 2012

Photo: Sean Rea

Police officers have been targeting bicycle riders in recent weeks at the intersection of Octavia and Grove Streets and issuing tickets for "running" the stop sign, according to two Streetsblog readers.

The quiet intersection isn't known for being particularly dangerous, and there aren't any known injuries there involving bicycles recently.

But Streetsblog reader Sean Rea said an officer told him they had been assigned to ticket bicyclists there in response to a neighbor complaint and because it's a "blind corner," though they seemed unhappy with the duty.

"They were very friendly, and seemed more interested in doing it where it might matter vs. being out there because someone called in the intersection," Rea wrote in a comment. "I got a strong sense that this isn't what they wanted to be doing."

There are certainly more dangerous intersections where the enforcement might be more effective in reducing crashes. Just a few blocks away at Oak and Franklin Streets this week, a truck driver killed USF student Robert Yegge on his bicycle.

Despite the ongoing lack of noticeable enforcement at many of the city's most dangerous spots, Rea said SFPD's targeting of bicyclists at Octavia and Grove appears to have even stepped up since he first saw an officer perched there on Bike to Work Day. Today, he said he saw a second officer for the first time.

Photo: Google Maps

SFPD Northern Station Captain Ann Mannix has not yet responded to requests for comment.

As Rea noted, personal complaints to the police seem to have as much bearing on the deployment of SFPD's traffic enforcement resources as any data on crash-prone locations. So if you know some hotspots where traffic is especially dangerous on a daily basis, phoning in a complaint could get some results.

Police often cite bicyclists for violating the state law which requires them to come to a full stop at stop signs as they would in a car, even if it's apparent they aren't violating anyone's right-of-way. Even San Francisco police offers don't seem to find the law practical to follow, though they often use it to issue superfluous tickets to bicyclists while the most dangerous behaviors on the streets go unenforced. Idaho changed the ill-fitting law 30 years ago by allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs.

Watch SFPD officers safely roll through a stop sign themselves:

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