Commentary: BART Police, a Resolution
An open letter to BART's most pro-bike directors
BART police continue to park in the protected intersection treatments surrounding the Lake Merritt Station. The location is right across the street from the BART police headquarters building, complete with its own dedicated parking lot.
This is my home BART station. It’s also a location I cycle through frequently. Not only do BART police park on these lanes, but so do BART workers. I could fill Streetsblog with photos of it, but it’s kind of exhausting.
It’s vexing when the very people we pay to keep us safe sh*t on the little bits of decent infrastructure we have in the Bay Area. Bike East Bay’s Robert Prinz summed it up on twitter.
Any help with this @SFBART? Police officers are regularly parking in & blocking Oakland's protected intersections around the Lake Merritt station that have been instrumental in improving bike/walk safety stats in the area.https://t.co/69vPtiOYMd pic.twitter.com/c57M5qBvzD
— Robert Prinz (@prinzrob) November 2, 2021
Director Rebecca Saltzman, an ally of the safe streets movement if ever there was one, responded quickly.
A message was sent to all BART police in the area today reminding them that they cannot park in bike lanes. I will work with Chief Alvarez on follow up to prevent this from happening in the future.
If anyone sees this happen again, please let me know.
— Rebecca Saltzman (@RebeccaForBART) November 2, 2021
On behalf of myself and all people who bike in the Bay Area, THANK YOU Rebecca.
The trouble is, as Streetsblog can attest personally (as can many others) this has been going on for years.
Warnings and memos get sent.
It stops for a short time.
It starts again.
As someone pointed out in the Twitter exchange, this is not a case of an absent-minded cop. These are a subset of cops who are delivering a clear message: people on bikes can drop dead.
I’m not sure what the answer is, but it isn’t more warnings or memos.
The BART Board of Directors has that name because they’re supposed to direct, not suggest, not send scolding memos, but direct. They are elected by the public to manage the agency and make tough decisions, not just suggest things.
It’s time for Rebecca Saltzman, Janice Li, and Robert Raburn, our professional and dedicated bike advocates on the BART board, to author a resolution, and lobby for its passage. I’ve already written a draft. I know it will need legal review. It might require negotiations with the union. But it’s a start.
And just like with vaccine mandates, backing up an instruction not to park on bike lanes with the threat of termination might actually work.
DRAFT RESOLUTION REQUIRING BART POLICE OFFICERS WHO BLOCK BIKE LANES TO BE BANNED FROM DRIVING POLICE VEHICLES.
Authors: Still TBD, but hopefully at least Directors Saltzman, Li and Raburn.
Background: BART has a stated objective to promote cycling to help solve first mile/last mile commuting problems as a way to increase ridership. To do so, the agency has worked with and supports the cities it serves in the creation of safe protected bike lanes connecting to BART stations.
WHEREAS: It is in BART’s interests to facilitate the safe passage of all patrons, including those on bike, to and from its station.
WHEREAS: The absolute, unequivocal, primary responsibility of a BART police officer is to assure the safety of BART’s patrons.
WHEREAS: A subset of BART police officers repeatedly park their cruisers in bike lanes around BART stations, thereby themselves creating a hazard to BART customers and others and acting in dereliction of their most basic duty.
WHEREAS: For years now a subset of BART police officers have violated this responsibility and parked in those bike lanes, despite repeated warnings, memos and reminders.
It is hereby resolved that any BART police officer who parks a car in or otherwise obstructs a bike lane, in anything other than a confirmed life-or-death emergency, will immediately have their carpool privileges permanently revoked and will no longer be able to drive a BART police vehicle under any circumstances short of an immediate threat to human life.
It is further resolved that BART police officers who have had their carpool privileges revoked will be issued a police bicycle, which, combined with riding BART or other forms of public transit, will be their only permitted form of transportation while on duty.
It is further resolved that BART police officers who have their carpool privileges revoked will no longer be permitted to park their personal vehicles anywhere on BART property, including BART station parking lots.
It is further resolved that any BART police officer who has their carpool privileges revoked and then parks or stops any vehicle, including but not limited to their personal vehicle, on a bike lane will be immediately suspended without pay and, if the existence of a justifying life-and-death emergency can not be proven within two weeks (subject to an emergency hearing and vote of the BART directors to determine if a justifying life-and-death emergency existed) they will be terminated and banned from further employment with BART.