Eyes on the Street: Idiots Continue to Park in the Oak Street Bike Lane

Photo: Patrick Traughber/Twitter
Photo: Patrick Traughber/Twitter

Looks like some tickets are in order.

Even with planted protective barriers alongside the Oak Street bike lane, some drivers haven’t got the message and continue to park or stop in it. It’s not clear if the violations are happening less often, and it’s still early in the learning curve, but the hope had been that the planters would send a stronger message to drivers to stay out.

The design leaves large gaps in the physical protection around curb cuts and the approaches to intersections, where turning drivers merge into the bike lane. There are no plans to expand the protective islands.

For now, San Franciscans have to rely on the SFMTA and SFPD to provide consistent enforcement against violators. That’s another work in progress.

Photo: Matt Kanter/Twitter
Photo: Matt Kanter/Twitter
Photo: Al Sharff
Photo: Al Sharff
  • I wouldn’t call them “idiots”. That’s mean, and assumes they’re clueless. They might just be entitled jerks who understand all too well that the worst case (for them) is that they’ll be asked to move. Call it the rational choice. (For entitled jerks.)

  • Morgan Fitzgibbons

    I was riding to meet with some MTA folks on Page St yesterday and a woman in her SUV was parked exactly where the last protective barrier on Oak between Divisadero and Scott ended. I at least got her to move up 6 feet so bicyclists could go around her. Definitely on her phone and oblivious.

    The bright side is I got to show someone at the MTA.

  • helloandyhihi

    The lane markings are confusing. What does a solid white line next to a stripped white line mean? Why don’t they extend the green lane all the way down?

  • murphstahoe


  • angermuller

    I’ve always wanted to make stickers that say something along the lines of “This vehicle is illegally blocking the bike lane and has been reported…” and slap them on their windows as I ride by.

  • That might mean it’s not be done being striped.
    But like yellow lines laid out in that pattern it is a general guideline that vehicles shouldn’t cross left-to-right, but it’s ok to cross right-to-left. With all the typical exceptions to said markings.

  • Like the “Stop a Douchebag” Russian youth movement?

  • angermuller


  • I don’t know, its pretty obvious its a bike lane, calling them an idiot is giving them the benefit of the doubt, that either they’re too stupid to know you can’t park in a bike lane, or they’re too stupid to know that their self entitled selfish illegal parking choice is actually endangering the lives of other people. The alternative is they’re self-entitled selfish assholes who believe their minimal convenience in finding the closest parking is worth the lives of cyclists. I think idiot is pretty generous.

  • Danny Dietze

    Looks like the automobiles are parked on the black top portion of the bike lane, painting the whole lane would help.

  • If you don’t think motorist have a fucked up attitude against cyclist go ride a bike in San Francisco and see how Quickly so called friendly people turn into homicidal citizens with a drivers license.

  • David Marcus

    Anecdotally, it does seem like the bike lane is blocked less often than before. But these pictures also show the need to extend the green paint along the while corridor.

  • Extending the green paint down to the corner (better yet the barrier, but that’s not going to happen) would help here.

  • mx

    I do think a non-trivial proportion are clueless and/or don’t care. As for those who don’t care, yes they are utter and complete jerks. You have to realize, if people are perfectly content to double-park in the middle of traffic lanes, just abandoning their vehicles in the middle of the street, they are phenomenally unlikely to care about blocking a bike lane too. The solution is enforcement. At a minimum, passing SFPD can hop on the horn and order drivers to move instead of ignoring the problem and driving on, which is usually what happens.

    But I think confusion and cluelessness plays a role too. SFMTA has brought us an array of new symbology over the last couple of years including sharrows, green lanes, red lanes, planter-protected bike lanes, bike boxes, solid white lines with dotted lines to their right, etc… These aren’t inherently bad ideas, but they go against the notion of a uniform understandable system of road design that everybody understands. People weren’t taught this stuff when they learned to drive. You’re asking them to figure it out while they are busy operating a dangerous piece of machinery and are supposed to be looking out for those around them.

    As an example of the confusion out there, consider the corner of 10th and Market. Going east on Market, private autos are not supposed to be in the red bus/taxi only lane; they are supposed to be in the right lane and make a mandatory right turn onto 10th. SFPD has been running pretty frequent enforcement operations in the area. It’s pretty simple, an officer stands in the street in front of the Twitter building and he holds out his arm and stops anybody who isn’t a bus, taxi, truck, or bike. Yet car after car blow through the intersection illegally, even when there are multiple police vehicles with lights on clearly visible in front of them. If you don’t think these drivers are confused, then you have to conclude they intentionally want to receive tickets for some reason.

    And I don’t really blame these particular drivers for being confused. The signage approaching 10th and Market is a disaster. Get in the wrong lane and/or fail to read and interpret six signs in one area, and you’re in for a fairly hefty ticket.

    My point is that just calling them idiots and blaming motorists’ attitudes isn’t going to help. We need strategies that address both the confused and the entitled who cause problems on the roads.

  • jd_x

    What’s going on on Market St has nothing to do with these people who park in what are clearly bike lanes on Fell and Oak. These people parking in bike lanes in Oak and Fell know damn well what they are doing, but they think it’s perfectly okay (at worst) or think it’s “only bicyclists and they can deal” (at best). It’s the same with double parking: people know it’s wrong but are selfish and quickly decide their needs for convenience trump anyone else’s need for safety (or convenience). This all changes when these laws are enforced. You’d be surprised at how quickly people can figure signage and road markings out when they are punished for not doing so.

  • mx

    Some of them absolutely don’t care. And my other point is that if people don’t care about blocking car lanes, they are most likely more likely not to care about blocking bike lanes.

    But what I was trying to get at when I discussed Market St. is a broader issue of confusion. I’m not convinced that everyone parked in the bike lanes on Fell and Oak fully understand that the lanes are bike lanes and that stopping in them is unacceptable and dangerous. Some people are treating them as white zones or thinking they are being safe by pulling over to make a call or send a text. Some are looking at maps and others don’t understand that you can’t just sit there with your blinkers on waiting for a passenger. Drivers aren’t generally used to being on city streets without legal places to stop.

    I’m all for more enforcement, but I think education is an important and missing component here too.

  • twinpeaks_sf

    I’ll throw another into the mix…

  • dat

    Idiots is a bit strong. If they’re doing it then it’s not clear enough that they are not supposed to. Uninformed, maybe. Idiot? I think not. If you want to maintain credibility then you need to not name-call and use loaded terms… otherwise you come off as a zealot or extremist.

  • dat

    That would be really passive aggressive and would not be helpful to the general cause as you’d just be alienating people that drive.

  • murphstahoe

    “don’t park in the bike lanes” is an extremist position?

  • Marvin Papas


    Show me when cyclists stop at stop-signs, always insist they have the right of way no matter what, or even slow-down for pedestrians and God-forbid, other cars.

  • iamjared

    Yea but it’s clear by now SFPD and SFMTA don’t care about ticketing for blocked bike lanes. All one has to do is look at the blocked bike lanes (think Howard or Folsom, literally all day every day). So, I don’t see how Oak will ever change. You can sit on Folsom or Oak and watch SFPD vehicles drive right past cars parked in the bike lane. Not only are tickets not given, but contrary to what “mx” said, SFPD doesn’t even tell those vehicles to move. Oh well.

  • Dave Moore

    I think this characterization is where the conflict is. It’s not like these drivers are saying to themselves “even though I know a cyclist will definitely die I will park here to save myself time”.

    You see the tradeoff as “minimal convenience” vs “lives of cyclists”. They see it as great inconvenience (having to hunt for scarse parking & walk) vs minimal inconvenience to cyclists (having to go around).

    The truth is almost certainly in between. It’s more like a moderate inconvenience to drivers vs a fairly significant risk to cyclists. That ought to be enough to make people not do it.

  • gneiss

    I actually think it more rationally goes like this, “I’ve always been able to pull over to the side of the road for a few minutes, what’s the big deal about it here?” and secondarily, there’s the lack of social taboo. Just reading the comments about people on bikes running stop signs or riding on sidewalks shows how much of a cultural taboo exists around that activity, even though it’s not the law in other jurisdictions. The motoring industry created a word along with a legal structure to prevent people from walking across the street midblock, an activity that’s been done for millennium, and have made it successfully taboo as well as against the law. It’s as if we need to make blocking bike lanes against cultural norms (just like running stop signs) before it will stop being a regular activity.

  • Somewhere in between, sure, but I don’t actually think that’s the case. My belief is that your average driver never even has the though occur to them, that they’re endangering people. It just never even crosses their mind.

  • als

    I think there are no parking signs all along the bike lane blocks. Getting red painted curbs for the entire block wouldn’t hurt.

  • angermuller

    I don’t see that as passive aggressive at all, and would do quite a bit for the “general cause” as I think it directly notifies a driver that they’re illegally parked, and that people (albeit cyclists) are watching. I can only assume that it would be quite effective in keeping people out of bike lanes (helping cyclists AND people who drive [not get tickets for dumb daft behavior]).

    This has nothing to do with alienating people that drive—or anyone else—in any single way whatsoever.

  • angermuller

    This has zero to do with cars parking, obstructing or driving in designated bike lanes. And because you’ve seen cyclists roll through, or even blow through a stop sign, doesn’t mean that everyone does.

    Creating adequate infrastructure is the first step to addressing all sides of the issue. The behavior shown above is no good for anyone.

  • Marvin Papas

    Your argument would carry more weight and have more sympathy if so many cyclists observed the same laws and had more respect for the rules.

    Clearly all cyclists are not to blame, I just see quite a few who all too often could give a shit about the rules of the road, that’s all.

  • angermuller

    The point I’m hoping to make is that there are basically no rules, and those that exist differ fairly largely from city to city, and condition to condition. Part of that (arguably most) is due to the lack of infrastructure—lights, right of way, etc.—and as a result few know exactly how to behave in specific conditions, etc.

    Granted there will always be people who break the law because they’re lazy, or asinine, but I think it’d be harder break them “accidentally” if there was some underlying consideration or consistency in place.

  • Marvin Papas

    I lived in London where there are even more bikers than SF.

    Trust me the respect for the rules of the road exhibited by cyclists was much MUCH higher and the flow of traffic was better without so much animosity.

    I think the issue in CA stems from pedestrians having the right of way and tons of jay-walking that spills over to cyclists.

    In places like London and NYC if you J-walk or cross against a stop or a light you are really at risk of getting hit.

  • angermuller

    No doubt in my mind.

    A lot of EU cities seem to have a better grasp on it… and in some ways without much infra, I suppose.

  • @Dave Moore – “The truth is almost certainly in between.” Sure, if we’re talking about in between idiots and jerks. But it’s also quite possible that a good number of them are both.

  • I have a supply of “I Park in The Bike Lane” vinyl magnets. Unfortunately, they don’t work too well on modern cars, which are made of plastic. They do work on police cars and Ted & Al’s trucks — er, or so I’ve heard.

    Stickers are harsh and no doubt illegal. Post-It technology, maybe?

  • Are you as concerned with motorists who alienate people with their aggressive-aggressive act of parking in the bike lane?

  • This article is about motorists breaking the law. So by that logic, I presume you’ve lost all sympathy for the motoring cause.

    I have to wonder why you haven’t already lost all sympathy for the motoring cause due to their speeding. Surely your logic wouldn’t be inconsistent, after all.

  • mx

    I think it’s safe to say that slapping stickers on either cars or cyclists who do things that are dangerous or unsafe would not end well.

  • Marvin Papas

    The correlation of drivers breaking the law is higher given there is more of them.

    I see more rule violations from cyclists -like blowing stop-signs more often given the much smaller sample size than motorists.

    Can you dig it Jym with a y?

  • dawdler

    In my experience this blog doesn’t mind ruffling feathers. I don’t think the author cares that “idiot” and “selfish” don’t mean the same thing. 😉

    FWIW – the information I get at this blog is worth the occasional silly flaming.

  • Martijn

    How about flyers that cyclists can hand out or put under the windscreen wiper of cars parked in the bike lane. The flyer could quickly explain why it is dangerous and that it is illegal.

  • The practice of speeding as much as possible, as often as possible, is nearly universal amongst motorists. So no, it has nothing to do with there being more of them.

    The fact that bicyclists are in a minority is a factor, though, due to the dynamic of attributing bogus sweeping generalizations to any group that’s not the majority.

  • dat

    I agree with you. I just don’t like it when they undermine their own credibility by using name calling. That’s what that hatchet-site anti-bike blog does. When you paint yourself as a zealot, you get marginalized like a zealot.

  • ☼ For those offended by some of the wording used here, we could always go back to the gentler days of Flickr circa 2007, where the softer term “morons” was used instead of “idiots,” and “self-absorbed” rather than “entitled jerks.” Put those photos in this Flickr Group:


    And don’t forget the #ParkingDirtySF hashtag!

  • I happen to host a site with a bunch of copylefted flyers, mostly in handy PDF format. Print and distribute as many as you want:

  • murphstahoe

    I see more dead people killed by motorists.

    Your move.

  • SFnative74

    I would bet that 95%+ of San Francisco drivers break numerous laws on every trip…speeding, rolling through STOPs, not yielding to peds, not signaling before turning or changing lanes, blocking intersections, double parking, etc. I say this as a driver in that 90%, as a passenger when other people drive, and as someone who walks and bikes a lot. Show me more than a handful of drivers who come to a complete stop at every all-way stop intersection, or who never break the speed limit. Really – I want to meet them.

  • jai_dit

    Got a link to the relevant law on that? A quick google didn’t turn up anything.

  • In Soviet Russia, sticker jokes write themselves.

    Stop a Douchebag: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03UkAj0ByUQ

  • Gabriel

    You start off saying “I think this post displays a problem with the attitude of bikers, not with drivers”, then go on to say “rather, it displays what are almost ridiculously unclear and confusing road markings” … sounds like the issue is the motorists inability to read signs, or the cities inability to properly word signs; neither of which is an issue with the “attitude of bikers”.


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