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San Francisco Fire Department

S.F. Fire Apologizes for Tweeting About Imaginary Bike Rule

There is no rule in California that says cyclists have to ride single file

File photo of an SFFD truck parked on a bike lane in Mission Bay. The crew was at JoJo’s Korean food truck getting lunch. Photo taken around noon on Dec. 15, 2017, by Streetsblog/Rudick

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.

The San Francisco Fire Department has apologized for sending out a "safety" tweet over the weekend that echoed the false belief among some drivers that cyclists are required to ride single file.

"Ride single file," the second bullet point in the tweet, was quickly flagged by advocates.

"There is no law," conceded Justin Schorr, a spokesperson for the SFFD, in a phone interview with Streetsblog. Schorr characterized that line in the tweet as a well-intentioned mistake that will be corrected in future statements.

"In San Francisco we have a number of unique bike lanes which don’t allow for more than one bike width," he wrote in a follow-up email. "The generalized message refers to riding in traffic and there is no law we know of to ride single file when in a traffic lane."

"We could have made the generality of these safety tips more clear indeed," he added.

That said, many advocates who responded to the tweet questioned the department's true dedication to bicycle safety in the first place, given its history of opposing protected bike lanes and other Vision Zero projects and parking its own vehicles in bike lanes. Streetsblog asked Schorr if the department could tweet out a reminder that it actually is illegal to park a fire department vehicle (or almost any other vehicle) in a bike lane except when responding to an emergency.

He said they were discussing future messaging.

In Streetsblog's view (and it's safe to say in the view of most cyclists) the best and only thing the San Francisco Fire Department's managers should do for bike safety is to get their own staff under control (exhibit 'A' below).

An SFFD staff car parked illegally, blocking site lines of the crosswalk, in front of Cafe Réveille in Mission Rock on April 8 at 3:10 p.m. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

In the photo above, taken in front of the Cafe Réveille in Mission Rock last month when Streetsblog was out working on an unrelated story, a fire department official is parked in the clearly marked daylighting zone in front of a crosswalk. Every San Francisco cyclist and pedestrian has witnessed similar behavior from the department's employees.

An ambulance crew parked across from an empty parking lot, doing paper work in a partially protected bike lane. Photo: Stacey Randecker

Fire fighters also park on bike lanes to do paperwork, as seen above, or leave their trucks in the bike lane to get lunch. None of this is acceptable. Certainly, nobody should know more about the consequences of blocking a bike lane than the very people who pick up the bloodied bodies of cyclists forced into traffic by illegally parked cars and trucks.

Schorr said he was meeting with SFFD Chief Jeanine Nicholson to discuss ways to improve messaging.

That, in Streetsblog's view, is easy: first, "bike safety" messages maybe oughta involve telling drivers to be more careful, since they're the ones actually getting people killed. And the SFFD needs to start supporting Vision Zero street safety projects and stop parking in bike lanes unless there's a fire.

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