[Update: False] SFPD Cites Bike Rider for Driving With a Suspended License

Update 9/21: SFPD said on its Richmond Station Facebook page that the person cited was driving, contradicting the report printed in the Richmond Review which described a “bicycle rider”: “The story is not correct. On the time and date indicated the only misdemeanor citation issued for that night was to the driver of an automobile.”

A San Francisco police officer cited a bicycle rider for having a suspended or revoked automobile driver’s license. You read that right — even though no driver’s license is required to ride a bicycle in California (or anywhere?), it happened.

From the SFPD Richmond Station police blotter, via the Richmond Review:

Driving with a Suspended License: Aug. 8, 2:42 a.m., Geary Boulevard
An officer on patrol noticed a bicycle rider making an unsafe lane change while riding eastbound on Geary Boulevard. The officer enacted a traffic stop and discovered the rider had a suspended/revoked driver’s license.

The bicycle driver was cited for a misdemeanor offense of driving with a suspended license.

The officer’s baffling application of the law is especially strange considering the fact that this person could have been riding a bicycle because they lost their driver’s license.

Well, if that’s the new order of things, police ought to start ticketing all children who ride bicycles on sight.

Riding a bike in the Richmond before you're licensed to drive? Watch out, kids! Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/5598110217/in/photostream/##SFBC/Flickr##

(H/T to Reddit user dxtr3265)

  • LHT

    Was it Officer Ernst, by any chance?

  • Ion Feldman

    Any chance this is a typo? Search and replace ‘bicycle’ for ‘motorcycle’ that got out of hand? I don’t even know make an ‘unsafe lane change’ on a bicycle.

  • Anonymous

    If you cut somebody off?

  • Step 1: Choose to ride on Geary. (Not during critical mass 😉

  • Scott McElhiney

    Regardless of the justification for the original stop (unsafe lane change), this is awesome for the cyclist. Just show up to court with the code and fight the charge… doesn’t matter if he had them dead to rights on the excuse for the stop. The officer decided to pull some imaginary law out of his ass… fight the imaginary law.

  • Anonymous

    No it’s not. This sucks for the cyclist. He has to show up to court for no good reason. He should fight it with written declaration to save time.

    50% the cop is sitting in the station house laughing his ass off. There is zero cost to him for writing a bogus ticket to “penalize” the cyclist with a paperwork. The likelihood of the cyclist figuring out some way to get the officer “scolded” is next to zero.

  • Anonymous

    @ionfeldman:disqus I was about to get really irritated by this, but then I read your comment. Really good point.

    Aaron: can you get confirmation from SFPD?

  • Anonymous

    An unsafe lane change? WTF? I see cars doing that all the time, changing lanes without signalling, and nothing gets done. What exactly was this cyclist doing that was unsafe?

  • bourbon

    How is this inexplicable? The cop wanted to exert his right to be an asshole, which is what they do. Perfectly rational.

  • bourbon

    If only he were that unique.

  • Probably was “unsafe to himself”. Drivers of cars and trucks are rarely driving so they’re unsafe to themselves, so they’re not cited.

  • OB12OLD

    Ask that the officer be required to appear in court. But take care to notice if his eyes are glazed. He could be abusing doughnuts.

  • Is it just me or are the police finding all new was of being fucktards?

  • Or “biker”.

  • Ryan Brady

    Not looking over your shoulder (or in a mirror) before merging around a double parked car? Or into a left turn lane?

  • Joe B

    Scott is right that getting ticketed for violating a fake law is much better than getting ticketed for violating a real one. A cop can ALWAYS find a legit reason to ticket you. Do you have the required 10 reflectors on your bike? Did you hold your turn signal continuously for the last 100 feet before the intersection? Did you hand-signal before slowing? All of those are citeable offenses.

    If a cop tickets you for violating an imaginary law, your best move is to meekly take the ticket. Don’t argue him into citing you for violating a real law. It will be much easier for you to beat the bogus citation in court than it will be for you to beat the legit one.

  • Trooper

    This is a reporting error. Here is a link to the article posted by the police.

    https://www.facebook.com/sfpdrichmond/posts/158927684296823

  • becca

    this isnt true…

  • Trooper

    Check the like to get what was in the district newsletter. The vehicle is a car.

    https://www.facebook.com/sfpdrichmond/posts/158927684296823

  • Anonymous

    It sure is delicious Schadenfreude to observe all these self-righteous Reddiot “FUCK THE POLICE” assholes licking their chops only to have it shoved right back in their face. These are the same dipshits who railroaded a bunch of innocent people after the Boston Marathon bombings.

  • paul

    Dude that Facebook page did not refer to the blotter and it did not say “falsely”
    you are the editor bro and you need to check your facts before you repeat what you saw somewhere else.

  • No, the SFPD didn’t explicitly refer to the blotter or state that they falsely reported it, but the report came from the Richmond Station blotter which is re-printed in the Richmond Review. So unless that paper altered the report, that is what we can infer happened. Still, I do apologize for repeating what turned out to be a false report.

  • Chloe

    Lesson to you all who jumped down the throats of the cops…you have no idea what you are talking about. And to the person who made this report, YOU are responsible for what you “report.” When you take third hand info, don’t verify it, and then report it as if you discovered it, the fault is on you. It’s childlike that you would blame anyone or anything other than yourself for this one. Good job, nice “journalism.”

  • Paul

    Sir it is not the lack of fact checking that is turning me off nor is it that you blame the Richmond Review (correctly) for the original error. It is that you went on a rant and there is no apology from you:
    These sir are your words not a reprinted article.
    “A San Francisco police officer cited a bicycle rider for having a
    suspended or revoked automobile driver’s license. You read that right —
    even though no driver’s license is required to ride a bicycle in
    California (or anywhere?), it happened”

    “The officer’s baffling application of the law is especially strange
    considering the fact that this person could have been riding a bicycle because they lost their driver’s license.
    Well, if that’s the new order of things, police ought to start ticketing all children who ride bicycles on sight.”

  • Anonymous

    1) This is a blog, not a newspaper. While Streetsblog does break some news occasionally and make investigative reports on issues that they see falling through the traditional media’s cracks, they typically focus on highlighting already reported stories while adding some missing data and context. In this case the story turned out to be erroneous, either via an error on the part of the Richmond Review’s police blotter feed, or from the SFPD who prepared it.
    2) Even the much better funded traditional media outlets get stories wrong occasionally, after which they print retractions exactly as has been done in this case.
    3) There is already an existing history of the SFPD mishandling tickets and collision investigations involving people on bikes, which is why it seemed crazy but not entirely unbelievable that a bicyclist would get ticketed for having a suspended drivers license. Police officers often assign points to people’s driving records for bicycling infractions which is also not supposed to be allowed in California, so I wasn’t surprised to hear of this other, similar instance which turned out to be misreported.

  • Chloe

    An excuse. That’s not being responsible by saying this is just a blog and not a newspaper…but sometimes we do newspaper things. You are either legitimate media or you’re not. If you want to write something publicly, then the author needs to take ownership. The author in this case did not. He wrote that it wasn’t his fault, and shifted the blame. You write it, you own it. A more appropriate answer would be to say that the author will take time to do some research and continue with his writings more responsibly. But I’m sure he cares, it’s just the cops right? The author doesn’t really care as long as he gets his name in the paper.

  • Anonymous

    When a person is researching and writing an original piece then it seems fair to hold them accountable and personally responsible for all of the facts in that piece. However, when simply regurgitating information that was already reported elsewhere I don’t think it is wrong to assume that the original source for the news did their fact checking already, and if it turns out that the original source was wrong to post a retraction and clarification exactly as happened in this case.

    Would you also hold this blog responsible for their daily headlines post if it turned out that one of those stories was incorrect as well? Similarly, did you also write to the Richmond Review where the information was posted originally, or to the SFPD Richmond Station who potentially got the info wrong on their police blotter in the first place, asking them also to post retractions and apologies?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bicyclist Killed by Muni Bus on 6th Avenue in Inner Richmond

|
UPDATED Friday, 9:05 a.m. A 22-year-old bicyclist named Derek Allen was killed by the driver of a 44-O’Shaughnessy on 6th Avenue between Geary Boulevard and Clement Street late Thursday afternoon in the city’s second bicyclist fatality of the year. (The raw video above is from CBS5). A spokesperson for the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office […]

Dramatic Rise in SFPD Citations to Drivers Without Licenses

|
San Francisco police officers issued twice as many tickets to drivers operating without a license between January and May this year than they did for all of 2010, according to data from the SF Police Department (SFPD). The spike contrasts with an overall drop in traffic violations. “I think it’s important to feel like there […]