Mayor Lee on Bike Demo: “I Won’t Bend to Interests Who Disregard Safety”

Contrasting with Supervisor London Breed’s sensible position on the demonstration planned in response to the SFPD’s impending bike crackdown, we bring you a dispatch from the hidebound side of City Hall — Room 200.

Mayor Ed Lee weighed in today on the plan from bike commuters on the Wiggle to fully comply with the stop sign law en masse this evening, to highlight its absurdity.

Mayor Lee on Bike to Work Day. Photo: Aaron Bialick

Lee told reporters that he’s “not going to be bending to interests that simply want to disregard public safety”:

We’re a great city for first amendment voices. I’m willing to listen to them. But I’m going to always say everybody’s safety has to be the number one priority. I’m not going to be bending to interests that simply want to disregard public safety. That’s not what our city should be doing.

We’re investing a lot of money in bike lanes. A lot of money in dedicated lanes. A lot of money in making sure that people can get to work without driving more cars. We have environmental goals for that to happen. But you’re talking to a mayor, and I think a very strong Board of Supervisors, who will not compromise safety for the sake of other interests.

Mayor Lee is, of course, missing the point of the demonstration entirely: SFPD’s Park Station captain is disregarding safety data and wasting precious enforcement resources on compliance with an impractical stop sign law, which won’t make anyone safer. Meanwhile, the driver violations that hurt the most people go under-enforced.

The “interests” Lee referred to — bike commuters rallied by the Wigg Party — say they “intend to show” that the unrealistic prospect of not practicing rolling stops on bikes (which Idaho legalized 32 years ago) would “have disastrous effects to traffic patterns” by disrupting the existing expectation of efficient turn-taking.

“That may be their point of view,” Lee said to a reporter. “Is it shared by everybody else?”

He continued:

I’m willing to have conversations about the highest level of safety. But I cannot accept just one entity’s point of view about what that safety is if it’s all self-centered. I want to make sure that that safety is also shared by our police officers, our traffic control officers, people that drive — if they don’t have an assumption of what’s going to happen, tragic mistakes will be made.

That’s precisely the point of the Idaho stop sign law: setting legitimate, realistic expectations for everybody’s behavior. Supervisor Breed gets that.

Mayor Lee has still yet to call upon the SFPD to comply with its “Focus on the Five” goal, which the department hasn’t met since it was announced 19 months ago. The point of that campaign is to target the five most dangerous violations based on data rather than complaints.

And about that claim of “investing a lot of money in bike lanes.” Lee has, on multiple occasions, undermined efforts to increase the city’s level of paltry funding for bike lanes, and refused to say that safe streets for bicycling are more important than car parking.

  • danger d

    Cars ARE death machines. A small sample below.

    Take your pick Fatal,Texting,Bad Driving,Worst crashes, Cars = “Death Machines”

    Also Leading cause of death for 15 – 19 yrs old USA = Road/Traffic injuries.

    Second Leading cause of death children 10 – 14 19 USA yrs old = Road/Traffic .


    In 2013, there were 4,735 pedestrians killed

    (Table 1) and an estimated 66,000 injured

    (Table 2) in traffic crashes in the United States. A total of 4,653 traffic crashes

    (Table 4) each had one or more pedestrian fatalities. On average, a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes in traffic crashes.

    Bicycle’s Killing Pedestrians – DID NOT EVEN MAKE THE TOP 6!

    According to the 2012 National Survey on Bicyclist and Pedestrian Attitudes and Behaviors, poor quality facilities are the leading cause of pedestrian injury.

    Six most Frequent Sources of Injury Percent

    Tripped on an uneven/cracked sidewalk 24
    Tripped/fell 17
    Hit by a car 12
    Wildlife/pets involved 6
    Tripped on stone 5
    Stepped in a hole 5

  • Alicia

    His posts are textbook examples of concern trolling.

  • EssEffOh

    The Mayor added, “Let me be clear, the only bending I will be doing is to the corporate interests my boss Ron Conway tells me to bend to.”

  • The mayor should be thanked. He has provided a quote “I Won’t Bend to Interests Who Disregard Safety” that can be used in every transportation and public safety issue in SF. Every motor vehicle crash, every funding decision, every street design, every decision of a law enforcement officer (or station captain). He said it. Lets make sure that he and everyone else hears it again at every opportunity.

  • p_chazz

    So is swimming and electrical appliances. People drown and are electrocuted, but we don’t call swimming a death cult, nor do we label toasters as death machines. Everything in life has its risks. The point is, if you label cars as “death machines” you just come across as a fanatical anti-car extremist and people will just write you off as such. So if you want to be ignored, be my guest! It’s no skin off my nose!

  • danger d

    They are a machine that causes death, more than guns (in the USA) which were designed to kill people. I drive a car everyday over 100 miles.

    My problem is that people get killed by cars and then the drivers (in most cases) walk away without any penalty at all because it’s an “accident”.
    Try having an “accident” with a gun and see if you can walk away without any consequences.

    Some people will say “well, cars were not made with killing in mind like guns” but this does not make the victim any less dead. Until we start treating vehicle created deaths like gun related ones nothing will change.

    I just want to ride a bike with a little less worry that some texting a-hole will run me down on his way to the bar and then the cops will let him drive away without any punishment at all.

    And by the way don’t lump me in with “all bikers are environmentalist”
    as I could care less if your children choke to death on bad air and the
    earth falls into the sun. Once I am dead, I could care less. The earth can defend itself, and after it kills all the humans it will go on just fine without us.

    So yea I will call them Death Machines.

  • Alex

    Whats even more annoying than bikers is the lack on investment into the city’s rail system. It angers me to see the city make the roads less drivable but not offer a good alternative. Our transit system is a joke, relying heavily on busses is not the solution. We need to invest more in BART, Caltrain, and MUNI Metro. Rail is the most efficient way to move people from place to place in a city thats as dense as San Francisco. Yeah bikers are annoying, especially when I have to slam on the breaks because someones to lazy to stop, but whats even more annoying is how the city, no the Bay Area as a whole is not taking major steps to improve our transit system to provide one seat rides from point A to point B. Its and embarrassment.

  • p_chazz

    And you will be dismissed as the extremist that you are.

  • danger d

    At least I will not be an Internet Troll who speaks without being supported by facts like you.

  • p_chazz

    Pat yourself on the back and give yourself a gold star!

  • Polk St, here comes a bunch of “I Won’t Bend to Interests Who Disregard Safety” banners.

  • murphstahoe

    Tell that to Ed Lee, who fought against Prop B.

  • murphstahoe

    Try having an “accident” with a gun and see if you can walk away without any consequences.

    Works for Dick Cheney. And Darren Wilson.

  • murphstahoe

    But you will be trolled by that troll, it appears.

  • Alex

    Prop B was nothing. We need to actually rethink our transit system. Money’s poring in, it’s time to come up with a long term Bay Area transit plan

  • City Resident

    Excellent comment! From shortly after birth, we grow accustomed to cars and have difficulty envisioning a life without them (or with less use of them). Any effort to curtail their use or even to promote alternatives to their use is an affront and a call to arms. My dad is Ford, Kia’s my mom, my little sister is Tesla, and GM is my grandma.

  • Izsak

    Uh, no. Ed Lee is not missing the point. It’s nice to have a true moderate in office, sometimes.

  • “Death monsters.” And why not? Have you seen how much asthma they hand out? Who ordered that? I mean, you may have a perfectly nice death monster, but would you kindly keep it about 300 miles away from me? That’d be great.

  • Alicia

    He isn’t? Okay, so what do you think the point is? Do you think rolling stops are automatically unsafe?

  • p_chazz

    If you want to create a serious dialogue in order to gain greater acceptance for bicycling, it would be helpful to not use perjorative labels for other road users. If you just want to sound off and come across as a chest-beating bicycle extremist, be my guest. I don’t care. Hell, I don’t drive a car. I never even learned how to drive. But I don’t have a pathological hatred for cars either.

  • Ryan Brady

    I commute on foot 6 miles per day. By far the biggest dangers to me are cars making turns without looking, tall vehicles obscuring LoS at intersections, and cars blocking the crosswalk in SOMA because they can’t anticipate intersection traffic.

    The occasional bike on the sidewalk is super annoying, and I’d like to see those cited too, but bikes running stop signs and stoplights are *rarely* an issue for me.

  • spencerfleury

    He *is* missing the point, which is that bicyclists not stopping at each empty intersection they come to is not actually a public safety threat, but the captain of Park Station is acting as if it is – in direct contradiction of what the safety data tells us.

    What do you think the point is?

  • spencerfleury

    Helmets are safety gear. Anyone who rides a bike in the city without one is insane, in my (perhaps fallible) opinion.

    How using appropriate safety gear has anything to do with signifying membership in a “community of choice” escapes me. Unless that community is “people who want to go on living without a traumatic brain injury.”

  • spencerfleury

    And isn’t that what’s really important here – cracking down on things that annoy Alex?

  • jd_x

    When another pedestrian dies from being hit by a motorist (been 20 this year so far, so we’ll have another one in the next couple weeks, you can count on that), you can tell us all how it was good the cops were using their extremely limited resources ( to stop bicyclists rolling stop signs. You, and SFPD, can also tell the family and friends of the future victim how glad you were the cops were protecting them from those “dangerous” bicyclists instead of going after the motorists who actually kill people.

  • M.
  • M.

    And on every parking meter between Pine and California

  • M.
  • M.

    See above re. Road Rage.

  • Pathological? Motor vehicles kill more Americans each month than Al-Qaeda ever did in their best month.

    “Air pollution kills more Americans than breast and prostate cancers combined, and the premature deaths associated with particulate matter pollution alone are comparable to deaths from traffic accidents.”

    Anyway, I don’t hate cars. I just want to get rid of them #muhaha

  • @Frobish – Pure fiction, which has nothing to do with the actual writing, advocacy, and enforcement of this law.

    The 3-foot law was needed because motorists who hit bicyclists usually don’t get charged with anything nor even cited (“pending investigation,” which usually doesn’t actually occur). With this law, there’s something to cite a motorist with from the get-go, so the whole thing doesn’t just get dropped.

  • @Dave Moore – Pedestrians usually hang back and let motorists violate their right-of-way without applying much conscious thought to it. In fact it’s considered a sign of sophistication to behave that way without thinking, and anyone who notices (or has the temerity to mention) how the cars are rolling is some kind of bumpkin.

    When bicyclists do so, it’s worth not only of notice but must be generalized to all bicyclists and complained about nonstop in all media, even if it takes dozens of comments in the same thread to properly overemphasize it (while overlooking motorists doing the same thing, of course).

    The flip side of this coin is when a pedestrian does get hit by a car, there’s always a loud and very vocal contingent who will search hard for some reason to blame the pedestrian, and even if all they’ve got is prejudicial surmise, shout that from the rooftops.

  • @jd_x – I have seen no evidence that he can.

  • @p_chazz – Blithering nonsense. I wear normal clothes when I commute, and I’ll put on bike shorts for long rides. I remain the same person, it’s not as if I’m wearing Spider-Man’s “Venom” costume.

  • Dave Moore

    Your complaint is about generalization, and you make your point by generalizing several times.

    My point was simple. I objected to the classification of a pedestrian who felt at risk from a cyclist who came close but didn’t hit him as a “ninny”. Do you agree or disagree with that?

  • NoeValleyJim

    “About three-fourths of voters believe bicycling is good for San Francisco”

  • NoeValleyJim

    Rob Anderson and his sock puppets.

  • When can we get a bike friendly mayor like Sam Adams was for Portland?


Streetscast: An Interview with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee supports the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Connecting the City vision, promises to “very aggressively” carry out Gavin Newsom’s executive directive on pedestrian safety, and said he has a commitment from the SFPD to do more aggressive enforcement of drivers in the Tenderloin to make the streets safer for those on […]