SFPD's Selective Enforcement of Bike Commuters at Caltrain Station

SFPD's Selective Enforcement of Bike Commuters at Caltrain Station

SFPD were ticketing bicyclists riding on the sidewalk near the Caltrain station at 4th and King this morning. But they were not ticketing any of the drivers blocking the bike lane, which forces many bicyclists onto the sidewalk.

[...] When I asked if the officers were also enforcing the traffic laws against the taxis and private cars that double park and block the bike lanes leading to the station, forcing people who ride bikes to have to move into the traffic lanes, the officers stated they had been given instructions only to focus on bicyclists.

More from Streetsblog:

The bike lanes installed on Townsend Street on the north side of the Caltrain station were ushered in with quite the fanfare, just days after the permanent injunction against bike facilities was lifted in August, 2010. But this morning, like any other typical weekday (according to bike commuters I spoke to), the bike lane was at various times blocked by taxis, a Bud Light delivery truck, a shuttle bus and private automobiles. Some taxi drivers like to make sudden u-turns out of the taxi station, endangering bicyclists riding in the bike lane.

I can tell you from frequent personal experience that 90% of the taxis at that particular taxi stop begin their journey with an illegal u-turn through the bike lane and 4 lanes of traffic. Legality aside, the sidewalk is the safest place for a bicyclist to be, if they value their lives.

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10 Responses:

  1. james says:

    As it happens, I walk past that station almost every day. The bicyclists ride on the sidewalk whether there are cars around or not, in both directions on the sidewalk, and heedless of pedestrians. Bicyclists ride through the station.

    While I've never called the police about it, ticketing is certainly warranted.

  2. Kevin Binswanger says:

    Well it makes sense that we as a society would ostracize bikers. It's a public safety risk and it makes the surrounding people unhealthy, just like smoking does.

  3. Kyzer says:

    Living not in California, but in Britain, I would also ask this question. Britain does not have many drivers who actively seek to harm cyclists. Britain has pavements for pedestrians only and roads/highways for vehicles, including bikes. Bike lanes may or may not have parking restrictions. If they do have parking restrictions, and those are violated by parked cars, the cars will definitely be ticketed because it's easy money.

    Both cyclists and drivers expect to share the road. While there are barrier/grade separated bike lanes for high-speed roads that cycles aren't allowed on, normal-speed roads have car and bike users that expect to have to overtake other traffic by moving further out or slowing down, and know to expect that if a bike lane is present, it may be blocked up ahead and they may have to let cyclists out, so they will look for them and be courteous.

    In Britain, as long as you check over your shoulder before pulling out, you are generally safe to enter and exit the bike lane via the road. You couldn't get on the pavement anyway because of kerbs and pedestrians.

    So, with that in mind, what makes California different that a cyclist would go onto the pavement and not the road?

    • jwz says:

      For whatever pack of reasons, America's car culture is actively hostile to bicyclists, when it's not being completely oblivious to them. There's a lot of corporate history behind this that has something to do with the oil industry, and there are plenty of stereotypes you can apply at your leisure.

      Given that, when a car and a bike tussle, the bicyclist dies and the car gets a scratch, bicyclists who value their lives tend to choose approaches that are technically illegal but non-fatal over the alternative.

    • james says:

      It more than just hostility of car drivers to bicyclists. For reference, I drive a motorcycle, car, walk, and bike. I avoid Muni.

      As a pedestrian, I live near a relatively dangerous intersection, and drivers regularly pass by a lot faster and closer than I'd like, definitely in violation of right of way laws. I work near the station mentioned in the article, and bicyclists nearly run me down at least once a week. Pedestrians in SF regularly cross against signals, at the middle of the block, and generally also unaware of their surroundings. On the motorcycle, sometimes it seems like drivers close space on purpose.

      People in SF are either unaware of their surroundings, or use their mode of transportation as a protest against All Other Evils.

      (Some) Bicyclists are also openly hostile to... everyone. Of course, this isn't universally true in SF, but on any day, I watch at least half of the bicyclists: run lights and stop lights (almost universal), travel the wrong way in traffic, bike through pedestrians, but the biggest problem is that they're UNPREDICTABLE. Bicyclists mostly don't seem to want to follow any traffic laws, and they're awesome anarchists because they're on bikes.

      I've never seen a bicyclist on Townsend, traveling East, actually STOP at the sign at 5th. Co-workers and I get nearly run-down regularly. But also, the car drivers in that area, while they always stop, are also assholes.

      I get that bicyclists are at a massive disadvantage against a car, and a lot of drivers in SF are assholes. Most of the rest of them are oblivious, but I watch bicyclists in amazement do the stupidest things.

      And sometimes they get hit, through no fault of their own. BTW, pedestrians don't do much better against bikes than they do against cars.

      As a bicyclist, I (mostly) follow traffic laws, and also avoid routes where the speed of the traffic is too much higher than my speed. I mostly stay off Geary, and go down Clement (which while full of bad drivers, is a slower road overall). When I enter pedestrian areas, I walk my bike.

      At the Caltrain station, there's no excuse for entering the station riding a bicycle. It has nothing to do with the bike lane. It has everything to do with a bicycle storage company being inside the pedestrian area.

      • jwz says:

        Why is it that all conversations that begin with, "bicyclist (who is doing something illegal) is given a ticket, and yet car driver (who is also doing something illegal) is never ticketed" always devolve into, "yeah but a lot of bicyclists are assholes"?

        Even from people who are not militant car-enthusasts.

        I think we have a Godwin Corollary here of some kind.

        • james says:

          I think it's at least in part because there are tons of cases where car drivers are ticketed, but bicyclists are not, and there's no huge outcry.

          When there's a case where bicyclists, but not drivers are being ticketed, it's a Grave Injustice.

          Personally, I'd like to see some even enforcement, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

          This city would be a lot better if everyone had better manners.

  4. CBGoodBuddy says:

    Too bad you don't live in Vilnius, Lithuania. The mayor's (staged) rampage through the city center against illegally parked cars earned him the IgNobel Peace Prize.

  5. pondskater says:

    I would question Kyzers' actual experience of cycling in Britain. As a daily cycle commuter in London, I can assure you motor vehicle drivers including those of public service vehicles are most definitely not the picture of courtesy painted. I have seen cyclists being ticketed for running lights on Londons roads (quite acceptable IMHO) but never a motorist in a cycle lane, which are often bus lanes, nor when driving dangerously causing cyclists to crash in avoidance.

  6. Ralf Hildebrandt says:

    That's a shame. They police should have towed the cars instead.