Keep it klassy, Sgt. Ernst.
San Francisco Police Sergeant Richard Ernst apparently decided that the best way to make Folsom Street safer was to purposefully park his car in the bike lane this morning and force bicycle commuters into motor traffic.
Staff from the SF Bicycle Coalition were out at Folsom and Sixth Streets, handing out flyers calling for safety improvements on SoMa's freeway-like streets in the wake of the death of Amelie Le Moullac, who was run over at the intersection last week by a truck driver who appeared to have made an illegal right-turn across the bike lane on to Sixth.
When Ernst arrived on the scene, he didn't express sympathy for Le Moullac and other victims, or show support for safety improvements. Instead, he illegally parked his cruiser in the bike lane next to an empty parking space for up to 10 minutes, stating that he wanted to send a message to people on bicycles that the onus was on them to pass to the left of right-turning cars. He reportedly made no mention of widespread violations by drivers who turn across bike lanes instead of merging fully into them.
He said it was his "right" to be there.
According to SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum, Ernst blamed all three victims who were killed by truck drivers in SoMa and the Mission this year, and refused to leave until she "understood that it was the bicyclist's fault."
"This was shocking to hear, as I was told just a day ago by [SFPD Traffic] Commander [Mikail] Ali that the case was still under investigation and no cause had yet been determined," Shahum said in a written account of the incident. While Ernst's car was in the bike lane, "a steady stream of people biking on Folsom St. were blocked and forced to make sudden and sometimes-dangerous veers into the travel lane, which was busy with fast-moving car traffic during the peak of morning rush hour." [...]
"There was literally an open, available parking spot next to the bike lane, which he could have pulled into," added Shahum. "Sgt. Ernst again said he did not need to move his car. He said it was his 'right' to be there."
You can see San Francisco's Finest hard at work at 1:04 in this video.
Previously, previously, previously.
SFBC: Open Letter to Mayor Lee: Take Action on SoMa Streets
Dear Mayor Lee:
Last week, a 24-year-old woman named Amelie Le Moullac was killed while bicycling on Folsom Street near 6th Street when she was hit by a truck driver. Amelie was the third resident to be killed on a bike in San Francisco this year, all in or near SoMa. Each victim was killed by the driver of a large truck, none of whom have been cited or charged yet.
SoMa regularly ranks as one of San Francisco's most dangerous neighborhoods for people bicycling and walking. [...]
We ask you to commit to implement the City's long-overdue, long-delayed redesign of Folsom Street. Folsom is one of the city's few designated bike routes to downtown -- yet it is still an intimidating street, with no separation between bike riders and fast-moving auto traffic. Other cities have taken action to tame their deadlier streets by adding bikeways that are physically-separated from motor vehicle traffic. In fact, separated bikeways on 9th Avenue in New York City have reduced injuries to all street users by 58% and could do the same here.
The City studied and recommended a redesign of Folsom Street, which includes separated bikeways, years ago through multiple planning processes and is now in the process of environmental analysis through the Central Corridor EIR. The City is scheduled to repave Folsom Street from the Embarcadero to 10th Street in November 2014. Please expedite approval and funding for this long-overdue Folsom St. plan so that the new, safe design, vetted through extensive community outreach, can be implemented with this scheduled repaving next year.
I spend a lot of time nearly-dying on Folsom Street. It's about time they actually implement these already-approved changes. Send an email!
Have you signed the petition
yet? It's up to 1,500!
John Lumea, the fellow behind the petition, brings some interesting news:
It turns out that the resolution, within the California State Legislature, to name the Western span of the Bay Bridge for Willie Brown is in direct violation of the naming policy adopted in April by the State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee --- which has to approve the resolution in order for it to move forward.
I won't tax you with the details of that here, other than to note that two of the three violated conditions of the naming policy are that (1) "the person being honored must be deceased" (which Willie Brown decidedly is not) and that (2) "the author or co-author of the measure must represent the district in which the facility is located" (which, in this case, none does).
12-1 in favor? I am horrified.
In Sacramento on Monday, the state Assembly Committee on Transportation met to consider ACR65, a bill that would designate the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge the Willie L. Brown Jr. Bridge. The vote was 12-1 with three abstentions. The "no" came from committee Chair Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach; the abstainers were Tom Ammiano, D-S.F., Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; and Jim Frazier, D-Oakley. The bill moves to the floor of the Assembly.
Meanwhile, in a surprise move, Willie Brown does something cool!
Meanwhile, Brown himself told Lee Houskeeper that he isn't interested in the half-a-bridge honor. He's in favor, he said, of naming the whole thing after Emperor Norton, who 141 years ago had proposed such a span. (The anniversary of that proposal will be celebrated at the Gold Dust Lounge - a client of Houskeeper's, and the reason he and Brown were discussing the subject - on Sept. 17.)