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Pedestrian Safety

Double-Parked Driver Chokes Wiggle Intersection; SFPD Nowhere to Be Found

Yesterday evening I returned to the Wiggle, where reports continue of SFPD officers targeting bicycle commuters rolling stop signs. To my surprise, there were no police to be found during their typical shift at about 6:45 p.m., but I did find a driver double-parked right behind the crosswalk on Waller and Steiner Streets. In the exact same spot where officers can usually be spotted admonishing bike commuters for doing an "Idaho stop," the driver of this car pretty much put every passerby in danger for at least the ten minutes I was there, and faced no consequences.

There's hardly a more hazardous place for someone to park: He was forcing all the drivers and bicycle riders behind him to pass in the oncoming lane, right at a crosswalk, blocking the visibility of people crossing the street. (Perhaps he could have done more damage by parking in the crosswalk itself, but another motorist I spotted beat him to that at the corner of Haight and Pierce Streets. When I pointed out to that driver that he was blocking a crosswalk, he simply told me, "I'm waiting for someone," and didn't move.)

In the last few minutes of the scene above, you can watch the driver refuse to move from this dangerous spot even as other drivers honk and argue with him. Three other drivers can be seen waiting behind for a chance to pass safely -- and with the frequency of motor vehicle and bike traffic turning into their path, it's a wonder no one crashed.

"Enforcing double parking should be high on SFPD's list for a way to make our streets safer and more convenient for all," said Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk SF, who said the organization has gotten behind Supervisor Scott Wiener's recent efforts to bring more attention to the abysmal state of enforcement. "Double parking is not only an inconvenience, it's a safety hazard. Pedestrians' visibility is threatened, bikes have to swerve into oncoming traffic, and it aggravates drivers, creating an unsafe condition for all."

"We understand that there are a lot of competing priorities for SFPD resources in a big city like San Francisco, which is why it makes the most sense to focus on areas that are the highest risk to pedestrian safety," she added. "We encourage SFPD to prioritize enforcement where people are being seriously injured and tragically killed."

But it's easier to find SFPD officers double-parking themselves than to see them handing out tickets for it. The reason I had stopped by the Wiggle on my way to a meeting yesterday was to investigate a report from reader Jym Dyer, who said that on Wednesday evening, police doubled parked in basically this same spot, "actively creating a hazard here, even worse than the one Sgt. Ernst created. It's a disgrace."

[SFPD] double-parked a police car with no lights on Waller, about two car lengths west of Steiner. Nighttime bike commuters heading north on Steiner can't see what's behind the stopped car. Not sure what the point of it is, except maybe to lure us further into the intersection just to figure out what's going on, at which point they have a pretext to write a ticket.

I stood and watched for a while, and it's hard to see cars going east on Waller, even with their lights on, because the view is blocked by the police car! Even worse, I've seen some motorists zip around the police car directly into oncoming bike traffic. None of these motorists were ticketed.

The SFPD says its Wiggle crackdowns are sparked by complaints from neighbors and a keen interest in safety for people walking and biking. But when you see someone in a car create a hazard like this for an extended period of time at the very same location -- with impunity -- it's tough to take the department's commitment to safety seriously.

SFPD Park Station Captain Greg Corrales has yet to respond to an email requesting comment on the video.

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