Tomorrow: Weigh in on SFPD’s Bike Crackdown With Captain Sanford

As a new video illustrates, SFPD seems to hold drivers to a different standard when they roll stop signs at Page and Scott Streets. Image: Kristin Tieche/Vimeo
A new video illustrates how SFPD holds drivers who roll through stop signs to a different standard than cyclists. Image: Kristin Tieche/Vimeo

SFPD Park Station’s monthly community meeting tomorrow evening is your chance to weigh in on the ongoing harassment of bike commuters led by new captain John Sanford.

SFPD Park Station Captain John Sanford. Photo: SFPD
SFPD Park Station Captain John Sanford. Photo: SFPD

On the ride there, you can join a second Wiggle “stop-in” to demonstrate the folly of holding bicycle riders to the letter of the stop sign law.

Sanford’s decision to devote police resources to these tickets is now opposed by at least three supervisors: London BreedJohn Avalos, and Scott Wiener.

“Enforcement against minor bike violations won’t make our streets safer but will make it a heck of a lot harder for people to bike,” Wiener wrote in a post on Medium today:

In my view, traffic enforcement should focus on dangerous traffic behaviors — which are largely by motorists – that lead to deaths and serious injuries on our roads. Regarding bikes, police absolutely should enforce against cyclists engaging in dangerous and reckless behavior , for example, blowing through stop signs without slowing down, violating the rights-of-way of other road users, biking on sidewalks, and speeding . However, enforcing against cyclists for minor violations  —  such as slowing down at a stop sign, cautiously and safely entering the intersection, and not violating anyone’s right-of-way  —  is not a productive use of scarce traffic enforcement resources.

While Sanford fixates on holding cyclists to a strict interpretation of the stop sign law, SFPD still seems to ignore “rolling stops” committed by car drivers at the same locations.

A new video produced by Volker Neumann and Kristin Tieche (below) shows traffic on a normal night at the intersection of Page and Scott Streets on the Wiggle, where most bicyclists and drivers don’t come to a complete stop when there’s no cross traffic.

In the video, a driver rolls a stop in front of an SFPD cruiser, and then the police driver proceeds to make a “California stop.” Because it’s only dangerous when cyclists do it.

SFPD Park Station’s community meeting starts tomorrow at 6 p.m. at 1899 Waller Street (in Golden Gate Park, along Kezar Drive next to the Waller skate park).

Be sure to check out the other videos from Tieche and Neumann on the first Wiggle “stop-in,” and send in any footage you catch of the Park Station bike crackdown in action.

  • jd_x

    Awesome video. Hope there is a huge turnout of cyclists tomorrow night. Time to reign in an out-of-control police captain who ignores data to feed his own petty agenda.

  • StrixNoctis .

    To me it looks like even the police car didn’t come to a complete stop. I’ll assume Sanford was driving that car since he’s the chief & representative of his precinct.

  • shotwellian

    I spent 30 mins at at a 4-way stop in Sanford’s district earlier today and recorded 86 traffic violations by drivers, mostly incomplete stops. I’ll be bringing these “complaints” to the meeting tomorrow. If Sanford wants to conduct stings based on complaints (his declared rationale for the bike crackdown), then 86 complaints about drivers should be plenty, right? I’d encourage others to record your own complaints as well!

  • Amy Farah Weiss

    If you care about the issue of SFPD’s crackdown on bikes, your vote for Mayor this November matters!

    As an official Mayoral candidate of San Francisco, I support a “Yield for Safety” bike policy that would first be piloted (with evaluation) on the Wiggle. I would ask the SF Bike Coalition, Walk SF, and other Vision Zero transit safety advocacy groups to join the SFPD in developing a discretion training program for police officers and a “yield for safety” program for cyclists. Cyclists who in any way show reckless or endangering behavior to pedestrians, drivers, or other cyclists would be ticketed. The spirit of the law is to support safety and flow for all, and I have interviewed many SFPD officers about this matter who have told me that they are legally allowed to use discretion in ticketing.

    I produced this video via Neighbors Developing Divisadero in 2012 in support of increasing safety and flow on the Wiggle with the help of the Wigg Party: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YqbKZYkswM4

    Let me know if you’d like to help me campaign on this issue. And remember, this November you can link arms with the social equity advocates, policy strategists, and culture makers who have joined forces to challenge the status quo
    of current leadership. Use ranked-choice voting and vote 1, 2, 3 to replace Ed Lee: Vote for me (Amy), Francisco, and Stuart in whatever order feels right for you. Check out my website and get involved at thinktwicevoteweiss.com.

  • murphstahoe

    You don’t understand, clearly your mind is made up. We get a lot of actual complaints about cyclists.

  • Chief Suhr put this Guy in charge of the Park Station. All these concerns are really being directed to the wrong person. Sanford is just a functionary sent out to Park Station to carry out policies put in place by Chief Suhr’s team. The Chief likes the media spotlight. Shine it on him.

  • vcs

    The biggest part of the problem here is that nobody really has language to describe the actual problem. In terminology terms,I like “Scofflaw”.

    When I watch four cyclists blatantly cut off a police car in the middle of a Wiggle intersection, it *seems* that significant percentage of bicyclists simply have no conception of “right of way” and “don’t break laws ten feet away from the cops, you stupid moron”. These people are scofflaws, and if we want a civilized society, they either need to behave or be stomped out of existence.

    We can debate about the merits of the “Idaho Stop” and proper defensive cyclist behavior. But, if there is a Black & White Ford sitting there and you rolled through and got a ticket? Thats solely because you are irresponsible dumbass, and you had it coming. If you aren’t looking for Crown Victorias, what is the real likelihood you’re paying attention to pedestrians or anything else?

  • Xavier Harmony

    And you’re missing the point. Police shouldn’t be targeting violations based on complaints (which are subject to biases), they should be targeting violations based on data (like the “Focus on the Five” program).

  • Andrew Cohen

    biking safely does not equal biking legally. I bike for a living in SF and have thousands of miles under my tires in the city with very limited incident, do I follow the law? absolutely not, its just not viable…do I respect cars and other pedestrians? absolutely….i am very frequently trying to wave cars and people in front of me in busy intersections….

    however, if they are just pulling to a stop and I am moving, me stopping and them looking to see if I stop would take longer for both of us and leech my much coveted energy. again…if it costs no one else extra time, yes I just blow through intersections, obviously I am incentivised to not hit anyone/get it bc if I get hurt I not only get hurt, but loose my lively hood. what we need is teaching people basic rules to follow, ie only passing on left, staying out of door zone, keeping a straight path, signaling etc etc….and infrastructure that make it not so life threatening. yeah yeah keep dreamin i know.. until then tho, Ill take care of myself just fine and you can leverage those tickets against my non existent license.

  • murphstahoe

    I was mimicking Capt Sanford.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    I know many people can read for comprehension, but it might have been better if the headline, and the article, referred to the meeting as being on Tuesday, instead of “tomorrow”.

  • Drew Levitt

    I was thinking about doing the same thing. Even better would be a sustained campaign of submitting complaints about unsafe driver behavior to Park District. The nice thing about Capt. Sanford’s decision to let complaints, not collision data, drive his enforcement priorities is that we can directly affect the balance of those complaints! What if, every time we bike the Wiggle, we pull over, wait for a driver to roll through a stop sign or cut off a person walking, and call in a complaint?

  • murphstahoe

    @seanrea ‘s experience is that submitting complaints about drivers is met with derision by Capt Sanford

  • As a pedestrian, on a daily basis I notice that 9 out of 10 drivers in Noe Valley at four-way stops do not come to a complete stop if no other cars are present. 1 out of 10 do not stop even if a pedestrian is actively crossing. (This morning I observed even SFMTA meter maids whizzing through stop signs on Sanchez Street at 10+ mph.)

    I don’t have a problem with drivers rolling through stops at 2 mph, except for the fact that cars have blindspots and drivers often fail to see pedestrians and bicyclists even at this speed. It’s even more dangerous when drivers roll through stop signs and then punch their accelerators oblivious to all non-car street users.

    However, as a bicyclist, I think bicyclists need to claim their share of responsibility. Slowing down and yielding at stop signs for bicyclists emphatically does NOT mean whizzing through intersections at speeds over 7 mph. It means slowing down. It does not mean swooping through an intersection making all the other bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians who got there first wait for you. It means yielding. It does not mean zooming past pedestrians with inches to spare, startling them, just because you’re pretty sure you’re in control enough not to hit them. It means being considerate and doing your part to make bicycling work in San Francisco.

    Ticketing bicyclists for low speed yielding is idiotic, a waste of both our tax dollars and limited police resources. However, anyone who bikes like they are the only person in the world who matters should be landed with a fat ticket.

  • @Karen Lynn Allen – When I first moved to Noe Valley, I noticed the same thing, the basic excuse being the hilly terrain. I actually called the police after nearly being hit, and they refused to take a report unless I was hit. Then when I was hit, I called and they refused to take a report unless I’d been sent to the hospital (which would mean it was too late).

    That was years ago. As I read in a Streetsblog story 5 days ago, Sean Rea started sending complaints of real incidents (recorded on his Contour videocamera) to Park Station and Captain Sanford dismissed them by saying, “It appears that you have already made your mind up.”

    So it seems the complaint-driven enforcement priorities only count if your complaint is about bicycles.

  • SFnative74

    “Ticketing bicyclists for low speed yielding is idiotic, a waste of both our tax dollars and limited police resources. However, anyone who bikes like they are the only person in the world who matters should be landed with a fat ticket.”

    Hear, hear! This sounds so simple and reasonable. I don’t know why it’s so hard for police officers to focus on the total jacka$$es, especially when there are plenty of them out there.

  • thingsthings

    well said

  • Sanchez Resident

    Scott Weiner is running for State Senator. Let’s get him to support adopting Idaho Stop law in California. He could do this if elected and make the change statewide.

  • Rebecca Gardner

    Perfect post!

  • Rebecca Gardner

    I bicycle every single day. It’s how I commute, grocery shop, etc. I really cannot stomach the arrogant jerks that blast through stop signs at speed without slowing down at all. Ticketing the ones that slow down, look for cars and pedestrians, and continue should not be ticketed. We really do need an “Idaho Stop” law here.

  • Rebecca Gardner

    Your sarcasm meter needs calibration.

  • murphstahoe

    Arrogant – “making claims or pretensions to superior importance or rights; overbearingly assuming; insolently proud”

    I keep seeing this word used, but I don’t think it fits. Neither does “entitled”. I could see “careless”, “lazy”, “ambivalent”. And I like those terms better because arrogant and entitled are inflammatory and are more easily used to describe the entire “cycling community” whatever the hell that is.

  • Rebecca Gardner

    Your definition of arrogant fits my comment perfectly. Did you read what you typed or what I posted? If you include synonyms it makes my uses of the word as an adjective even more apropos. Synonyms include, conceit, pride, self-importance, egotism, and your post.

    Do you feel superior to everyone now? Good. Have a nice day.

  • murphstahoe

    What? Wow.

    My point is that I think your assessment of what drives the stop sign runners is divergent from what’s really going on with that set of folks. And I said “I don’t think it fits” – because it’s just like, my opinion, man, not some well researched thesis.

    I don’t really believe that when I see someone taking those turns at 5-7 MPH in the wiggle they are expressing self-importance of egotism Maybe I’m wrong. This is just like, my opinion man.

    l think applying words like conceit, pride, self-importance, and egotism to someone rolling a stop sign in the wiggle devalues the meaning of those terms when we have some real actual scary monsters in this world.

  • murphstahoe

    Waste of his time right now. It would never get anywhere.

  • Rebecca Gardner

    So sorry. I apparently misread what you wrote.

    However, in my original post I wrote, I really cannot stomach the arrogant jerks that blast through stop signs at speed without slowing down at all. Ticketing the ones that slow down, look for cars and pedestrians, and continue should not be ticketed. So I do not see how that differs from what you just posted. I did not call the people that slowly and cautiously go through stop signs as arrogant. I called the ones that blow through intersections at over 20 MPH and never even attempt to slow down as being arrogant, and truly, that is how they are behaving.

  • murphstahoe

    I guess.

    My problem is a little bit on the political side – because there are plenty of people, Ed Lee and John Sanford included who think that “people that slowly and cautiously go through stop signs” are arrogant jerks. I think that adopting their language to apply it to a subset of cyclists just perpetuates them applying it to the entire set. Which is why I avoid it altogether.

  • Rebecca Gardner

    Which is why I wrote that we really need an Idaho Stop law here.

    I think we are on the same page here, you just don’t like the word arrogant. I do. C’est la vie. I’ll tell you why I call them arrogant jerks and the sort of person I am referring to as being arrogant. Last month I came to a full stop at a stop sign in the wiggle. I then proceeded when safe. A cyclist going over 20 mph came out of nowhere, blew the stop sign almost T-Boning me, then had the arrogance to yell at me, “REALLY! FUCK YOU!” He was 100% wrong so if that is not an arrogant jerk I truly do not know what is.

  • @Rebecca Gardner – Discourse about the “arrogance” (or “entitlement”) of people you don’t really actually know or read the minds of is of what value, exactly? Person X’s internal motivation is of what consequence, exactly, when they blow past you and you never see them again?

    All this emphasis on imputed motivations goes nowhere except into overgeneralizations, which are then applied to everyone on a bike, yourself included. It’s just not the road to go down. Elevate the discourse.

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