Who’s Parking in the Fell Street Bike Lane Today? Oh, It’s SFPD

Photo: Aaron Bialick

You’d better have a pretty good reason to park a car in the heavily-used Fell Street bike lane during the evening rush hour, forcing commuters to squeeze by alongside three lanes of motor traffic. Police response to an emergency might qualify, but the two SFPD officers who returned to this cruiser from the adjacent Bank of America, carrying an envelope, didn’t appear to be in any particular rush.

On Tuesday, the day I spotted this cruiser, 1,707 people used the Fell bike lane, according to the SFMTA’s live counter feed. The next day, it was 1,845. By leaving a car in the lane during the peak hour, there’s hardly a more effective way to maximize the number of people you endanger and stress out on their way home. All for a lazy parking job.

While there’s some hope that the concrete planters planned for the Fell bike lane this year will go a long way toward ending the routine illegal parking, it’s pretty dismaying to see the very officers responsible for enforcing the violation committing it themselves.

  • deuce_sluice

    Completely unsurprising. SFPD is just as responsible for poor bicycle safety in this city as SFMTA…maybe even moreso.

  • jd_x

    Sickening. The ones who you expect to care the most for the safety of citizens don’t give a damn if it interferes with their “privileges” of being a cop, i.e., getting to park wherever they want for non-emergencies. Thanks Streetsblog for constantly pointing out the hypocrisy and bias of the SFPD — somebody’s gotta do it, and apparently no other media platform seems to care.

  • Transplant206

    People park in that lane to use the BofA ATM quite often. This is particularly frustrating given that there’s another BofA ATM on the other side of the building, facing the Falletti/Nopalito parking lot.

  • the_greasybear

    The SFPD is generally more harmful to San Francisco bicyclists than it is helpful.

  • Chris J.

    I’m guessing they were probably trying to teach bicyclists again the importance of moving into traffic to get around cars in the bike lane: http://sf.streetsblog.org/2013/08/21/at-safe-streets

  • A A

    The tow truck company is bar far the worst offender.

  • gary

    I’ve always wondered, if a vehicle is blocking a bike lane causing the cyclist to go around into the street and is hit by a car, is the driver of the offending car liable to be sued?

  • Sprague

    Unfortunately, the same can be said in regards to pedestrians (with SFPD’s widespread failure to enforce speed, yield, and right-of-way laws and the ongoing rampant disregard of such laws by far too many motorists).

  • Yuppppp

    Maybe they were responding to a call about check fraud and the envelope was their evidence? Best not cast judgment before you know the whole story. There are a many reasons cops do the things they do.

  • I was encouraged recently to see a giant truck parked in one of the travel lanes on 8th St. near Market, leaving the bike lane clear! Too bad the deserted truck was idling up a huge cloud of exhaust fumes, sickening everyone around. Still, they left the bike lane clear!

  • Rod_North

    AA, as a practical matter, how can a tow truck remove a car illegally parked alongside a bike lane, if there is no space before or behind that car, WITHOUT temporarily occupying the bike lane?

    It doesn’t sound possible to me. So perhaps the law needs to be clear that EITHER a tow truck can park in the bike lane for the duration OR that cars illegally parked next to a bike lane should not be towed if that would create a blockage to the bike lane.

  • jd_x

    AA is talking about Ted and Al’s Towing whose business is directly along Fell on the bike route side

    (note that this is an old image that doesn’t show the new cycle track) and who dangerously and inconsiderately park their tow trucks in the bike lane for *storage*, not because they are towing anybody.

  • Chloe

    Lets see if Aaron Black posts this (since he never posts anything that goes against his views). So, you’re all saying you want the cop to run to their cruiser parked very away, in the event of an emergency? Is it? Because that what it sounds like. …I can hear the response “no no it’s because it puts the bicyclist at risk.” Have any of you seem the majority if the bicyclists in this city, with their blank disregard for their own safety? The bicyclists are as much to blame as the cars.

  • The B of A parking lot might work. Also, comments posted with a verified email address go up automatically.

  • gneiss

    You must not know the configuration of this location. On the opposite side of the building there is a parking lot right next to the entrance of the bank. It would be no further walk for them to park in this lot then to block the bike lane.

    On the issue of “police must be close to their cars in case of emergency”, let’s think about the police officer I saw today who dashed into Haight Street Market to get lunch. She didn’t double park on the street, but rather found a loading zone parking space on the opposite side of the street to park before ‘jaywalking’ across to go into the Market She obviously knew that double parking would cause headaches and danger for traffic, so didn’t do it. How is this any different from blocking a bike lane, except that instead of making a street narrower for cars, it was for bikes?

  • sebra leaves

    If cars were driven the way bikes are, you would have a lot more damaged vehicles and maimed bodies around.

  • murphstahoe

    u mad bro?

  • Prinzrob

    The vehicle code already allows tow trucks to enter and/or block bike lanes and paths when in the process of towing a vehicle (www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21211.htm). Obviously nobody has a problem with that, or with police officers who need to enter a bike lane when on a call. The issue being discussed here is when drivers leave their vehicles blocking bike lanes not as a necessary part of their duties, but because they feel they can get away with it and have no appreciation for the danger they are creating for other road users.

    The question that should be asked in these cases is “Would it be acceptable for the driver to block the rest of the street in the same context?”. If the answer is “no” for other travel lanes then it is also “no” for the bike lane.


Fell Street Bike Lane Still Popular Among Bike Commuters, Parked Trucks

The more than 1,800 people who use the buffered, curbside bike lane on Fell Street every weekday continue to be faced with a familiar hazard: parked trucks. As we’ve reported, drivers, including SFPD officers, routinely park in the Fell bike lane with impunity. The vast majority of violators appear to be accessing three businesses on Fell between Divisadero […]

A Safer Masonic on the Way

Wednesday evening some 130 local residents and other interested parties dropped in at the San Francisco Day School to learn about the construction phase of SFMTAs Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project. To quote SFMTA’s own release about the project: With construction starting in June 2016, the Masonic Avenue Streetscape Project is an effort to improve safety for […]

SFMTA Implements Changes at Fell Street ARCO, But Is It Better?

A cyclist is forced to squeeze between two cars waiting to get into the ARCO station. An all-too-frequent occurrence that is still happening despite the SFMTA’s new configuration. Photos by Bryan Goebel. At the corner of Fell Street at Divisadero it’s frightening to witness the minute-by-minute close calls between drivers and cyclists on a one-way […]