Crackdown on Panhandle cyclists criticized

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is pushing back against an anticipated crackdown on bicyclists who flout the rules of the road from the San Francisco Police Department’s Park Station officers.

Park Station, which covers an area including the Panhandle, the eastern most parts of Golden Gate Park, as well as neighborhoods such as Cole Valley, Haight-Ashbury and the area North of the Panhandle, has stated that their officers will be on the lookout for bicyclists in violation of the rules of the road.

A recent July newsletter states:

“Park Station Officers will be watching for bicycle scofflaw violators in the District.”

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition opposes the anticipated crackdown and has launched a petition to the “significant departure from the SFPD’s Vision Zero Commitment” that “risks lives by diverting resources away from the deadliest traffic violations.” Vision Zero was adopted in San Francisco in 2014 and aims to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities by 2024.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s communications director, Chris Cassidy, said that the San Francisco Police Department has focused its efforts on enforcing laws most likely to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe on the city’s streets, but that Park Station’s impending crackdown undermines data-driven enforcement and would mean a diversion of resources away from the enforcement of the most deadly behaviors.

Cassidy said the San Francisco Police Department still has a long way to go until they reach their goal of issuing 50 percent of their citations for the five deadliest traffic behaviors identified by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency as: speeding, failing to yield to pedestrians, running red lights, running stop signs and violating turn restrictions.

In the second quarter of this year, the total SFPD citations focusing on the five most dangerous violations climbed from 25 to 32 percent of SFPD traffic citations, still short of the department’s goal of 50 percent.

Cassidy said it’s “puzzling,” why the Park Station would consider overlooking data that shows motorist violations lead to injury and death and are instead focusing on bicyclists’ behaviors.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Cassidy said, is committed to all people following the rules of the road and conducts numerous safety classes each year.

He said that in 2014 the coalition taught roughly 5,000 bicyclists and motorists how to abide by the rules of the road.

Cassidy said the crackdown would be at odds with Vision Zero, which is why the bicycle coalition has launched a petition to stop the Park Station from moving forward with it.

Cassidy said, as of Wednesday, the coalition has collected over 500 signatures and plans to deliver them to Park Station’s captain soon. The petition states:

“Any shift of SFPD resources away from these deadliest traffic violations is dangerous and unacceptable.”

The online petition is available here.

The coalition will also be collecting signatures Thursday at Baker and Fell streets between 5 and 7 p.m., according to Cassidy.

The coalition will also be handing out free bike bells Thursday as part of its “Bike Politely” campaign, Cassidy said.