Wanted: Your Photos of Public Servants Parking Obnoxiously

Photos: Aaron Bialick

As rampant as illegal parking is in San Francisco, there’s one group of drivers who are the champs when it comes to finding the most egregious places to leave their vehicles: police officers, mail truck drivers, and other public servants who use city vehicles.

We’d like to see your photos of city vehicles parked on sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and all the other places where city workers just can’t seem to resist taking advantage of the fact that SFMTA parking enforcement officers will almost certainly turn a blind eye.

Now, it’s certainly not the case that most city workers park badly, or that they’re the only guilty parties. And sure, in cases of emergency, police officers sometimes need to park haphazardly.

But they should be setting an example for the rest of the city. And given the vast swaths of public space already given over to vehicles, do police cruisers and mail trucks really need to block the few designated places for pedestrians to cross the street?

Send your submissions to abialick@streetsblog.org.

Double whammy: blocking a crosswalk and bus stop.
This is the scene virtually every day at the jail at 850 Bryant Street, where an entire traffic lane is given over to police cruiser parking. Not sure how they get the curbside cruisers out.
  • Ryan Brady

    While generally I agree, I actually want to commend the SFPD for something I saw recently. There was an incident on Market St that required a police presence, and rather than just sit in the bike lane, they actually parked the right side of the car up on the curb, with only about a foot and a half extending into the bike lane.

    Still a bit of a nuisance but I really appreciated the consideration.

  • Fran Taylor

    I make a distinction between postal service workers, who are harassed by management within an inch of their lives and hounded by GPS spying (same for UPS drivers) and desperately park any which way to complete an impossible workload, and cops, who intentionally engage in thuglike behavior to express their contempt for the people who pay their salaries.

  • Rob

    Aaron Bialick has certainly never had a blue collar driving job and never had to go to the bathroom while doing one. I guess public-sector workers are an easy scapegoat for all ends of the political spectrum. Harassing working class people who are just trying to do their jobs should be the realm of bored rich housewives, not urbanists.

  • HarryT

    When the cops have to respond to an emergency, you cannot seriously expect them to circle the block looking for a legal parking place. Should they feed the meter too? What about fire trucks?

    Aaron, you’ve gone too far this time.

  • triple0

    Actually, its really simple: No flashing lights = not an emergency. Find a legal place to park, SFPD. Or, just turn on the damn lights and pretend.

  • Guest

    No, but we can expect them to follow the requirements of CVC 21055 – actually be on an emergency call, and turn on sirens and safety lights.

  • HarryT

    Well, that first picture looks like it is the Panhandle mixed-use path, and it seems to me that the cop car is merely engaged in some traffic calming, making the pathway less of a commuter expressway for bikes and more of what it is supposed to be a – a recreational pathway safe for children, dogs, old people etc.

  • At the least, it’s pretty easy to double park instead of park in a crosswalk. There was no apparent emergency in any of the shots featured here.

  • I don’t imagine I’d ever force people walking and biking into traffic so I could go to the bathroom.

  • Phillip Sung

    Police officers generally make a lot more than reporters, especially those of the advocacy variety, so I don’t think your point has much weight!

  • That’s exactly what I thought they were doing as I watched them drive onto the path to talk to a woman who was sitting there. There ought to be more cars on that path.

  • Anonymous

    Rob: so you’re saying that it’s okay to jeopardize the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and even other motorists in a non-emergency situation? And you think it is “harassing” public service workers to point out that this is completely inane? You want to talk about harassment, let alone having your safety routine violated? Try walking, or even worse, cycling in this city. The last thing we need is public service workers, especially cops, showing blatant disregard for the safety of others because they are either too lazy to walk a bit extra or just so tripped out on power that they think they can just do whatever they want (while, paradoxically, given tickets to citizens for doing much less dangerous things, like rolling through a stop sign on a bike at an empty intersection). I can’t tell what’s worse: that cops do this crap or that people like you defend it.

  • How about cops riding bikes on the sidewalks?

  • Anonymous

    I 100% agree that public service workers, especially cops, feeling like they can park wherever and whenever they want is problematic. However, a large part of the blame has to fall on the shoulders of those who design our streets so that delivery vehicles, cops, etc have no place to park. Instead, we feel we have to appease every personal motorist and make sure the streets are crammed full of either free or highly subsidized parking spaces. I think every block needs 6-10 delivery/loading spots that can only be used for delivery trucks, cops, taxis, etc. I’m tired of pedestrians and cyclists always getting the short end of the stick so that the almighty personal cars can have their free/subsidized parking.

  • triple0

    Blue Collar? Please. A starting SFPD officer makes about the same as a typical Dot Com worker — and gets automatic full-benefits retirement after 25 years and Pension. According to SFPD website (spam filters preventing me from linking): “The current annual entry-level salary for Police Officers is: $88,842 to $112,164.”

  • biking in SF

    That seems pretty reasonable, given what a police officer has to go through on a typical day vs what a dot commer goes through.

  • biking in SF

    I’ve seen some police officers and other public servants park illegally in a considerate way and some don’t. Yes, it would be great if they all could think about where they park their car when it’s not an emergency. Double parking is almost always better than blocking a crosswalk – at least you get some traffic calming that way. But then they probably encounter that one in a hundred cyclist who rabidly lashes out, so maybe they think its better to not double park and stop in the xwalk instead.

    Thanks to the SFPD in general – they put up with A LOT and usually handle it well. I’ve seen and heard too many stories of cops in other towns whose actions would not fly here. SFPD cops are generally pretty mellow (given the circumstances) and professional, though I do wish they’d handle crashes involving people on bikes more seriously.

  • Winston Parsons

    I was once blatantly told by a police officer that they’re allowed to ride on the sidewalk when they’re investigating, and he said that he considered himself always investigating,so it was always OK for him to ride on the sidewalk at all times. Definitely raised an eyebrow for me…

  • Faded_seaside

    In Berkeley at least I’ve noticed that red zones are de facto Police parking zones.

  • Anonymous

    The panhandle multi-use path is actually wide enough for police and park service vehicles to drive on, and I was told once that it was engineered to take the weight of that, as well. The cop is pulled over to the side, clearly allowing bike and ped traffic to go around. That officer is also NOT parked on the grass, which does cause safety hazards by cutting ruts in the shoulder of the path.

  • Anonymous

    The rude parking by police for non-emergencies is still better than the excessive speed and aggressive acceleration for non-emergencies I see every day.

  • guest

    Note that Aaron says the cruiser is parked ‘obnoxiously,’ not ‘illegally.’ We all know that, re what you said about the panhandle path. Doesn’t mean that SFPD can’t be considerate enough to dispatch a motorcycle or bike cop to that location, though.

  • guest

    Easy solution. Daylight each and every intersection in this city. Should’ve been done a long time ago. If a unit needs to park in the red zone once in a while, so be it.

  • “I need to make an emergency stop at this Starbucks!”

  • guest

    Go by the MTA building on Van Ness and market some day. In that area you will find just about 2 out of 3 cars has a handicapped placard in the window, yet there are mysteriously no senior centers around. I once saw one of the fare inspectors getting out of his car, (big, young guy) with a handicapped placard in the window. Of course the MTA people won’t give themselves or their co-workers tickets..think about it

  • By that logic, why don’t blue collar workers just park right in the middle of the street and block traffic when they have to go to the bathroom or get a donut? After all, being “blue collar” means the rules don’t apply to you, right?

  • Captured a block of cars with MTA permits parked near Jackson Square:

  • mikesonn

    OMG! Stop ALL metering EVERYWHERE!

  • gneiss

    Yes they have permits, but they are parking *legally*. I think the point of this blog post is about illegal parking which creates a hazard and how this shows contempt for vulnerable street users by people who should know better, not overuse of *legal* parking permits to reduce the number of available parking spaces.

  • Anonymous

    The Bryant St. situation seems just fine to me. There are plenty of lanes, they aren’t blocking the sidewalk, and they’ve presumably got a system worked out for access to the inner row. I see no problem– better than having the city spend millions on more underground garages.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t tell if that’s sarcasm, but if that were to be the case, would demand for something already high in demand go UP or DOWN if the price was reduced or eliminated?
    These police/public service problems would get WORSE if all parking were (completely subsidized by people)*.

    Some like to call this “free”. But who pays?

  • Malena

    Hilarious! that’s for sure! They should builf something like Gatwick Parking

  • School shame

    Snag all the pictures off of our Safety Zone facebook page that you like. We have police, school buses, City workers all parked in the red zone and even OVER crosswalks. https://www.facebook.com/CalabashSafetyZone


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