Cop Races Down Howard Bike Lane

A San Francisco officer, no lights or sirens, captured on video putting cyclist's life in danger by using the bike lane to pass

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

  • neighbor

    Last Friday I had two incidents with bad drivers – both were sfpo. One not using a turn signal on Fulton and veered suddenly into the bike lane. The other an officer in a black dive learching across market to beat a light and planting themselves in the bike lane at an odd angle. Both were looking at cell phones or the like.

  • Daisy’s World

    Thumbtacks have been found in Sunnyside’s newly-installed protected bike lanes, with many believing that the sharp objects were intentionally placed by opponents of the controversial lanes in an attempt to damage bicycles and hurt cyclists. The alarming incident first came to the fore in a Facebook post on a local Sunnyside page just before 10:30 a.m. today, where a man, father to young children, wrote that the tires on his bike and on the bike cart he carried his kids in were blown out yesterday as he rode through 43rd Avenue. He then wrote that he found thumbtacks in the 43rd Avenue bike lanes yet again this morning, scattered through four unspecified blocks. http://www.daisylimo.com

  • SDGreg

    Stop victim blaming. City streets are for more than just cars.

  • PDiddy

    I would think that the safety of a vulnerable road user trumps getting to the scene of whatever that cop was racing to.

    Cops don’t magically become better drivers when they put on a badge. No amount of driving on a closed track is going to increase the response time of a driver for urban randomness. The only thing that reduces the potential for a collision is going slower in dense areas.

    This “incident” shows that the only way to make people follow the law, is to engineer bike lanes so that they cannot be invaded by cars.

  • PDiddy

    In reality, cops are usually responding to crime that has already happened and rarely are they able to prevent a crime that is “about to happen”.

    So your hypothetical is cute, but is rarely what cops are able to do. The amount of potential good from arriving on scene a few seconds early is obliterated from the INCREASED danger from a close pass like that.

    There are no ifs in road safety. You speed along a road over the posted limit and everyone around you has to slow down because you’re driving erratically.

    It’s the same reason why jockeying for “the faster lane” decreases overall traffic throughput on the road, because everyone else around you has to slow down so that you can arrive 1 minute faster to your destination.

    And better at me than driving with what regards? I’ve never struck a person in my entire life because I don’t drive like a maniac. So if we want to compare my driving record with the average SFPD, I’m sure I’d come out on top.

  • PDiddy

    You’re going to have to do a lot better than saying cops are better drivers than me and that preventing a potential crime justifies an unsafe move like that. You’re going to have to show me statistics, that cops are really safer drivers with godly precision.

    Go ahead, I’ll wait for you to show scientific evidence to prove your point, otherwise you’re just a moron trolling on here.

  • thielges

    RichLL is just reciting what I call “TV Show” knowledge of how emergency responders behave. You know where there’s a dramatic chase scene followed by cops flinging the doors open and sprinting to tackle the bad guy? I don’t doubt that inexperienced junior personnel might behave impulsively like that, it is not how the professionals are trained.

    Watch how real cops, firefighters, and EMTs respond to an emergency and you’ll see none of that. Instead you’ll see them getting to the scene with focus and determination. Once they arrive they’ll scan the surroundings for danger first and then approach appropriately. Rash, hasty behavior in an emergency can make things worse when a responder steps into danger and becomes an additional victim.

  • MonadnockMan

    Another reason we do not and have not visited our once favorite city for over 15-years because of poop, pee, trash, smells, safety, and stupid articles like this since all liberals want to do is control the whole world with poppycock regulations and feel good freebie me too generation seriously flawed BS. It is a known fact, over regulation will get you another failed state or country like Venezuela, et al,

  • PDiddy

    I’m new to streetsblog, so I’m not familiar with your resident troll, but it was obvious he was one.

    I still feel the need to respond to them sometimes. At the very least, to demonstrate to others that their rabbit hole of logical fallacies has no bottom.

  • PDiddy

    Yeah. It’s hard to argue with retards because they don’t understand just how out of depth they are because of their lack of intelligence. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  • PDiddy

    I would go that far. I’d go even farther and tell them to kindly shut their internet analogous noise hole.

  • thielges

    He isn’t worth wasting your time as he has a black belt in internet self pleasure and will always “win” by getting the last word, whether or not that last word is meaningful or realistic.. Check out his response implying that your house could be burned down if a fire truck gets stuck behind a bicyclist. As if someone on a bike would stubbornly block the lane with a fire truck blaring its sirens behind them. On the other hand I see cars cork emergency vehicles several times a year Not through malice but just bad judgement and driving skills.

  • Flatlander

    Seeing as how the other guy wrote an impersonal response, which you followed without prompting with,

    “Maybe if those cops ere rushing to help your wife being mugged then you’d see it differently? What if the police car was engaged in chasing perps who just raped your daughter?”

    it’s a bit Rich for you to claim that you find it better to “never make things personal”

  • Dang heck

    Being untrained/ignoring your training/being a power hungry pig aren’t good reasons

  • sf in sf

    Disgusting and unacceptable. I hope the police officer who was behind the wheel is identified and disciplined.

  • Frank Kotter

    You’re interacting with a robot. Doing a very bad job at it, as well.

  • Alicia

    “The problem is more when one single class of road users endlessly seek more and more resources at the expense of everyone else.”

    Like motor vehicles in a dense city?

  • thielges

    Yeah and that challenge he’s pushing is profoundly stupid because it accounts for neither the massive amounts of road space granted to drivers more than 20 years ago nor that SF road space has been a zero sum game for decades. He’s hoping that nobody notices the traps he has rigged allowing him to “win” again.

    Despite his claims, he’s got no interest in advancing understanding. He’s just trying to gum up the works. Ignore him.

  • 1 Less Car

    We get it, you are a cop love at all cost. Whatevs. Cops need to protect all citizens, even when they are racing to an exciting call.

  • Wallaby

    Acceptable risks can and should be taken if the alternative is a perp getting away

  • 1 Less Car

    Uh huh. Kill or maim an innocent in order to get an accused after a crime has been committed? Makes total sense.

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