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Bicycle Infrastructure

Cop Races Down Howard Bike Lane

A video capture of a police cruiser, apparently not responding to an emergency, driving in the bike lane. Photo: Ziggy Tomcich

.Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

Ziggy Tomcich was riding his bike back to work from an errand at 12:42 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, heading west on Howard, when he was close-passed by a motorist driving in the bike lane.

"It happened so quickly," Tomcich told Streetsblog via phone of the incident, which occurred at the intersection with 8th. "I felt the wind blast by--you generally don’t feel wind when a vehicle passes."

As seen in the video above and the lead image, the motorist was a police officer--but without lights or sirens, so apparently not on an emergency call.

Police Sergeant and spokesman Michael Andraychak told Streetsblog that "the Department takes concerns of the community seriously," and that he was forwarding the video and information to the Field Operations Bureau, which oversees patrols, for further investigation. Streetsblog also has an email out to Supervisor Jane Kim's office about the incident.

Tomcich said he got the camera for his bike a few years ago because he feels it's the only way to document this kind of behavior. "I really, really hate having to do this. I really hate to have to go through all this work," he said of maintaining a camera and remembering to switch it on, charge it, etc. But "I use it for peace of mind and I do it for other people." He argued that if enough people have video cameras on their bikes, motorist may think twice about buzzing cyclists and driving dangerously.

And that includes cops--readers may recall an incident in 2016 when a police officer in his cruiser signaled a turn in the wrong direction, and then abruptly pulled into a bike lane, crashing into cyclist Tim Doyle at 2nd and Mission. A motorist with a dash cam captured the collision, showing that the police officer was at fault.

Meanwhile, as most cyclists in San Francisco already know, the stretch of Howard where Tomcich was riding has a deadly history. It is finally getting protected bike lanes, after long, bureaucratic delays.

But Tomcich hopes the city will add protected intersections, in part to help physically prevent the kind of illegal and dangerous queue jumping exhibited by the police officer in the video. And he also hopes more police officers will be put on bike patrols to help them appreciate the dangers faced by cyclists. As he wrote in a Facebook post about the incident: how can we expect police "to enforce street safety when they're driving more recklessly than many of the worst drivers?"

He said he will be filing a report.

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