Avalos’ Eyes on the Street: SFPD Blocks Crosswalk During Traffic Stop

Photo: John Avalos/Facebook

Supervisor John Avalos posted the above photo on Facebook with the following explanation:

Ironic traffic stop on Mission and Ocean. Police vehicle stopped in the middle of the intersection blocking the cross walk and sending the 49 bus into the next lane. We have a ways to go to coordinate our pedestrian safety effort.

Indeed. Avalos, the chair of the SF County Transportation Authority Board, posted this on the same day he joined Mayor Ed Lee and other city leaders at a press conference announcing the five-year WalkFirst plan. The same day, a Board of Supervisors committee held a hearing on Vision Zero, the city’s goal of ending traffic deaths within ten years. It’s worth noting Avalos launched the Vision Zero campaign at City Hall along with Supervisors Jane Kim and Norman Yee.

If SFPD is going to lead in those efforts, as Chief Greg Suhr has pledged to do, the department’s officers are going to need to start with some basic awareness of how they can stop contributing to the problem.

  • Chloe

    Need I say again that Aaron has no clue what he’s talking about. You don’t pick where the person stops…”excuse me sir, please don’t hurt me while I ask you to drive somewhere else so I can give you a ticket.” Cop just got hurt b/c of a car stop. Aaron, really man, do some research before you write on this stuff. You are incredibly uninformed for someone who wants to call themselves a journalist.

  • KWillets

    That’s where they’re trained to stop:

    Ford and NHTSA concluded that the safest position for stopping a vehicle is to move the stopped vehicle off the roadway as far from moving traffic as possible. If that is not possible and if the officer has chosen the offset left position for stopping a vehicle, the best protection for a pedestrian officer while he is at the stopped vehicle’s driver side door is to position the vehicle according to the rules set forth in the acronym STOP:

    Space the vehicle about one car length away

    Turn the steering wheel to the right

    Offset your vehicle with the stopped vehicle 50%

    Parallel the road


  • 94103er

    So you’re picking a bone with Aaron while also effectively ignoring the fact that Supervisor Avalos is in full agreement with him. Hey, that’s great. Why don’t you fill in the mental blanks and perhaps intuit the fact that ‘safety coordination’ can mean a lot of things, but it especially means that SFPD makes the problem of bad street design worse on a routine basis by holding vulnerable pedestrians hostage while they make traffic stops.

    I always have to wonder about people like you. Have you ever seen pictures of street life in a European country, much less been to one? It really is different there. Way more crowded, and yet everyone knows how to behave when police/fire units have to do their thing.

  • jd_x

    And that’s all great, but tell the motorist to pull forward so you can do all that *not* in the crosswalk. The reality is cops, didn’t give a damn about this sort of thing because their policies are 100% based on the windshield perspective and the idea that streets are for cars and no one else.

  • jd_x

    Are you kidding? Ever seen a cop pull somebody over and get on their megaphone and tell the driver where to pull over? The cops can easily direct the motorist to stop somewhere that is safer for all, including other street users.

  • gneiss

    This was a a report of a post made by Supervisor Avalos. If you have a bone to pick it is with him, not with not Streetsblog. A little reading comprehension goes a long way.

  • Greg

    You can’t carefully walk around the parked cop car? How hard is that? Sure Avalos and the rest of you bozos let’s focus on this and ignore the 456 people that are wandering around the middle of Mission street right now in front of moving cars. SF government at its best.

  • raoul

    Avalos must not get out much in the neighborhood if this surprises him. If he did get out more, he’d notice all the fire trucks in the bus stops and crosswalks while the firefighters go grocery shopping or buy their burritos. He’d notice all the post office vehicles parked on the sidewalk. If he wandered off the commercial strip, he’d notice that the sidewalks are impassable because of all the cars parked on them and that every crosswalk has a car blocking it.

  • Chloe

    Still remains, Aaron made this report. Check your own comprehension. My gripe is with Aaron b/c he has no idea about what he’s writing about. An if streets blog wants to publish this poor journalism, then they take partial responsibility too. Fact, Aaron wrote the article.

  • Chloe

    Thanks for helping my point. People in Europe do allow the police/fire to do what they need to do. In Sf, you all think you know so much walk around entitled. Again, do any of you know the circumstances behind this stop? Do you? No. You don’t know if this is just a traffic stop, or related to something bigger, do you? Answer honestly now. Or if it is just traffic, let them ‘do their thing’ and move on.

  • Who, besides you, thinks this is a surprise for Avalos?

    Looks to me like Avalos is pointing it out and drawing a connection to the pedestrian safety effort (as well as transportation effectiveness). One doesn’t have to be surprised to point out something that happens all too often.

  • murphstahoe

    People in Europe also don’t expect the police/fire to produce their own work by not taking basic precautions.

  • murphstahoe

    You don’t pick where the person stops..

    This is baloney. That’s what the giant loudspeaker on the police cruiser is for and they use them.

  • murphstahoe

    If you walk down Madrid or any of the other capitols named streets in the excelsior, sidewalk parking is rampant. I’ll wait for Avalos to call them out, but they’re not the SFPD, they’re his constituents. The SFPD is an easy target. Maybe they deserve to be a target, but I’d like a more hearty effort.

  • SFnative74

    Maybe the officer should have asked the driver to find legal parking first, then the cop could look for a nearby space at the same time and walk over to the driver where he parked. Or instead the officer could have asked the driver to double park on the tracks – then this would be a streetsblog article about how the SFPD is blocking the train shown in the photo. Or the cop could have asked the driver to head to a nearby street without a train and double park there, but then risk this being an article about how the cop double parked in front of a cyclist. I think the answer is for the police officer to direct the driver to San Bruno where there is plenty of parking for everyone and take care of business there. Or what will probably happen with enough people whining about this sort of thing is that the SFPD will give up enforcing moving violations since it’s such a pain in the butt and there’s already enough to do in this town. Oh wait, that is another streetsblog article.

    So what should they do?

  • Well, reductio ad absurdum probably won’t get us the answer. But as another commenter pointed out, police cruisers do usually have loudspeakers they can use to direct traffic stops (around the corner, into the parking lot, in the traffic lane [what train, btw?], etc.). And even if we at Streetsblog decided to stop doing our occasional posts about some of the most easily-avoidable hazards, I doubt the folks on the streets like John Avalos will stop trying to bring attention to them.

    The few designated places to cross the street are regularly and needlessly blocked by motor vehicles. Would it somehow make it easier for our city leaders and agencies to make the streets safer if everyone would just do like we’ve done for decades and stop whining about it?

  • SFnative74

    I would like to thank the SFPD for increasing their enforcement efforts on our streets. I believe you have a difficult job, and I’m guessing it often feels that no matter what you do, you are criticized.

    As for “reductio ad absurdum”, according to a definition on wikipedia: “this technique has been used throughout history in both formal
    mathematical and philosophical reasoning, as well as informal debate.” So if it helps get my opinion across – and let’s face it, this comment section is all about opinions – then it seems like a valid way to express it. Hopefully an opinion contrary to the prevailing groupthink of this forum can still be accepted.

    Lastly, I should have said bus rather than train, but the point is still there.

  • I should have said “straw man.”

  • Maybe they’re applying Amsterdam rules where people don’t get bent out of shape about usable/clear sidewalks. 🙂


Majority of Supes Back the “Bike Yield Law” to Be Introduced Tomorrow

The “Bike Yield Law” proposed by Supervisor John Avalos is poised to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. The ordinance urges the SFPD to let bicycle riders safely treat stop signs as yield signs. Avalos plans to introduce the ordinance tomorrow, and it has support from six supervisors — the majority needed to vote it into law. It’s unclear if it has support from SFPD […]

Supes, SFPD, SFMTA Stand With Crash Victims and Advocates at City Hall

SFPD officials, transportation department heads, and three supervisors stood outside City Hall this morning alongside safe streets advocates and people whose lives have been affected by traffic violence. The press conference served as a call to action and a memorial for victims of traffic violence in the past year, with participants holding Valentines featuring names of […]

Supes Call for Aggressive Enforcement Against Dangerous Driving

In an emotionally-charged discussion, the dangers of walking on San Francisco’s streets took center stage at yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the first since an alarming number of San Franciscans were injured and killed by drivers over the holiday season. Every supervisor except Katy Tang, Mark Farrell, and Malia Cohen spoke to express condolences to the […]