No Change: San Francisco Cop Ignores Motorist Violations, Harasses Cyclist

The police department continues to ignore enforcement of the five most dangerous behaviors; prefers to bully people on bikes

Bikes on Market Street
Bikes on Market Street

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On Thursday morning, I was riding my bicycle down Market Street from Page and Franklin to the Ferry Building around 7:40 in the morning. At Civic Center I saw there was a police cruiser traveling east in the central “Muni’ lane with two officers in it. There were a few delivery trucks around at the time, as well as vehicles arriving for the Better Market Street road works, so I and other cyclists and scooter riders were being vigilant and careful.

Waiting at the red light at the intersection with Fourth, one of the officers got on his bullhorn, saying a couple of times: “Hey buddy, how many lights are you going to run?” I had not crossed any intersection on red, or run any lights. I was waiting ahead of the stop sign and the crosswalk, as cyclists typically do for visibility and safety. When the cruiser pulled forward, I had a chance to talk to the officer on the passenger side, and I pointedly said “I’m not running any intersections. Why were you not giving similar warnings, or handing out tickets to the three private cars we just saw driving illegally on Market Street in the opposite direction?”

He said a few things, of which I remember “Because if they hit you you’re the one that’s going to die… I ride a bike too… I don’t want you to get hit by a bus.”

I was still stationary at the light and pointed out that there were at least ten feet of curb between where I was and where the bus was crossing Market Street at Fourth. He got more aggressive and said something like “Are you going to keep talking? Is it worth getting a ticket for or do you want to just shut up and ride?”

At that point, I realized that there was no point in continuing the conversation.

I have been riding my bike on Market Street since Bill Clinton was president without being hit by a bus or any other vehicles, despite the dangerous driving that occurs every day, with drivers speeding through red lights or illegally driving on Market Street. I don’t need an aggressive cop bullying me with fake concern for my safety. I want a cop who is focusing on the five priorities that cops are supposed to be focusing on in terms of dangerous traffic.

Having just this week participated in a ride with other cyclists to advocate for protected bike lanes on Arguello following the death of one of our fellow cyclists, this aggressive bullying officer left me with a sickened feeling. I regret that I did not get his badge number or the number of the SUV cruiser.

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Shundo David Haye is a Zen priest and an experienced bike rider of more than 35 years in San Francisco and London. He says he’s never owned a car.

Editors note: for more on why cyclists should remain visible and not wait behind a line of cars at a traffic light, see this story, seventh paragraph.

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