If the law impedes your ability to make a profit, it's ok to ignore that law, right?

The author wants to make this about tech-hate, but really it's about SFPD and SFMTA choosing to not enforce the law:

Food delivery services are clogging the streets and blocking traffic:

On arteries like Valencia Street, a prime route for bicyclists, the trend threatens to worsen what is already an obstacle course, particularly during evening meal times. Many of the restaurants are serial offenders that regularly leave delivery vehicles in bike lanes, slowing everyone down as cyclists are forced into the traffic lane.

At Gajalee Indian Restaurant on Valencia, drivers picking up delivery orders regularly block the bike lane. And with Gajalee's new display of $5-off coupons for deliveries from GrubHub, it's a problem unlikely to improve anytime soon.

"I got four or five tickets from blocking the bike lane in the last couple years," Gajalee manager Kobi Mohan told us. "It's a cost of doing business for us." [...]

Mohan said he's been told the cars he uses for deliveries and stocking his restaurant aren't allowed to use the center lane to parking temporarily and he's been given no legal options, so he still uses the bike lane and just hopes to avoid too many tickets.

"There's nothing we can do," he said, explaining that he needs deliveries to make his business function.

Fuck you, Kobi Mohan. If your business is unsustainable, then you can either, A) fix your business model to be profitable, or B) fail. Declaring yourself a magical unicorn who doesn't have to follow the laws that other people do just makes you a parasite.

You're not even some dot-com whose VC has his hand up the Mayor's ass -- what makes you think you get to participate in this Libertarian I-got-mine "disruption" con, too?

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the agency is aware of the problem and trying to address it: "As SFMTA is made aware of a problem area/location, SFMTA engineers are sent to the location to evaluate parking management and options such as curbside marking/signage. SFMTA Enforcement reaches out to the proprietor of a business and explains the problem and identifies workable solutions. If all avenues have been evaluated and addressed and there is no change, increased Parking Control Officer presence will occur, until compliance is achieved." [...]

While big delivery companies such as UPS, FedEx, and even many beer distributors have city permits that factor in the cost of blocked lanes and specific rules for minimizing the disruption, food delivery services mostly follow the tech industry's disruption model of asking for forgiveness later instead of official permission up front.

Anyone know what these "special permits" that UPS and FedEx have allow? I had always assumed that when UPS and FedEx park in the bike lane -- and by "when" I mean "always" -- that they were straight up breaking the law, with SFPD straight up refusing to enforce the law on them.

If they are actually legally allowed to park there, I'll be even more enraged. Are they?

I hope this is just a confused and roundabout way of saying "vehicles with commercial plates are allowed to use the 'loading zone' spots that exist on every non-residential block in the city."

In December, Mayor Ed Lee announced plans to crack down on drivers who block traffic, and Rose told us the effort was aimed primarily at SoMa and facilitating commuter traffic headed to the Bay Bridge, with a half-dozen additional parking control officers deployed on Thursdays and Friday to issue tickets for blocking traffic.

A speedy commute back to the suburbs is the only priority. If you're not actually in a car, go fuck yourself:

But SFMTA figures show relatively few citations for blocking bike lanes compared with double-parking, even with December's uptick in citations for both. There were 2,391 double parking citation in December, up from 2,036 in November; and 187 citations for blocking bike lanes, up from just 132 a month earlier.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has tried to highlight the issue with its new #ParkingDirtySF campaign, urging members to send in photos and information when they see someone blocking a bike lane. It has compiled that information into a top 10 list of the worst corridors for blocked bike lanes. [...]

"People who double-park cars in bike lanes and crosswalks are not just causing an inconvenience, they are jeopardizing people's safety as they bicycle and walk. Stepping up enforcement on this dangerous activity should be an easy place for the Mayor and the SF Police Department to send the message that safety is a priority on our streets and to put action behind their Vision Zero commitments," said Leah Shahum, who is stepping down as SFBC's executive director to go study Vision Zero in Europe on a Marshall Memorial Fellowship this spring.

It's the 21st Goddamned Century: why can't I act like a human red-light camera, take a phone-photo of the license plate of a car in the bike lane, text it to 311, and have a ticket automatically issued based on the timestamp and GPS? Yes, I will gladly click the checkbox saying that I will testify to this in court if necessary.

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29 Responses:

  1. Bradley Dunn says:

    A fucking men I'm so tired of almost getting hit merging out of bike lanes to go around cars double parked in the bike lanes or disruptive uber drivers driving like idiots trying to figure out where their techbro is. Ticket every single one of them and you sure as hell solve the city's revenue problem.

  2. Bradley Dunn says:

    A fucking men I'm so tired of almost getting hit merging out of bike lanes to go around cars double parked in the bike lanes or disruptive uber drivers driving like idiots trying to figure out where their techbro is. Ticket every single one of them and you sure as hell solve the city's revenue problem.

  3. What I want to know is, who the hell gets food from Gajalee? So mediocre.

  4. What I want to know is, who the hell gets food from Gajalee? So mediocre.

  5. Other Jamie says:

    I've considered carrying wooden matches for these fucks' tire valves. Now that I've said that in public, I won't be doing so.

    Someone I don't know should, though.

    • Pavel Lishin says:

      Takes too long. If you're going to go all bike-batman-vigilante-justice, just carry a can of spray paint, or some spark-plugs. Or borrow a tactic from Y.T., and get some hard-to-remove stickers that read "I PARK IN THE BIKE LANE" that cost a pocket full of Ed Meeses to remove.

  6. joeyo says:

    NYC has something called the Stipulated Fine Program which basically gives registered commerical vehicles a deep discount on parking violations (in some cases eliminating the fine entirely!) in exchange for an agreement not to contest the violations.

    Perhaps Fedex / UPS have negotiated similarly elsewhere?

    • Michael S. says:

      Maybe that program turned out to be easier to get in place than an alternative licensing solution which allowed delivery companies to park while making deliveries? (It's called a fine, but maybe it's really a feeā€¦) There is a legitimate for some companies to be able to park in places others can't. (Though not, say, bus or cycle lanes.)

  7. cruz says:

    That photo is terrifying. Does the bicycle lane consist entirely of the door zone of those parked cars? And that's the "prime route for cyclists"? What the fuck? It looks like that's just some buffer space to keep cars from being hit by the doors of other cars.

    • jwz says:

      Yup, that's what every bike lane in SF looks like. Oh, except there aren't any cars parked in it.

  8. joe luser says:

    some very sticky stickers that say "please don't park in the bike lane" which could be easily slapped onto outside rearview mirrors by passing cyclists might be useful if not effective.

  9. Adam says:

    Why on earth do they put the bike lane to the left of the parking spaces?!

    That makes no sense what so ever - cars have to cross the bike lane constantly.

    Why not put the bike lane next to the sidewalk (and raise it, with a curb, so cars have to bump their tires to park partly on the bike lane), and the parking to the left of that?

    That's how it's done over here in the old world (Denmark), anyway; example:

    • Jon says:

      Actually your proposal has been proven to be far more dangerous in the "old world". That is why most new bike lines in Germany are placed alongside the road. Those are wide enough so that cyclists don't run into opening car doors, of course.

      The major problem with bike lanes behind parking cars or trees is, that cars don't easily spot the cyclists before turning right at an intersection. Most accidents between cars and cyclists occur when turning cars don't see the cyclists and bike lanes ON the road significantly reduce that risk.

      Riding to work per bike every day in Berlin I can second that. Crossing a road coming from a completely separated bike lane I often get into conflict with cars which don't expect me coming. With bike lanes on the road that barely ever happens because drivers are almost forced to notice me as they pass before turning right.

      • Adam says:

        You think cars crossing the bike lane every time they pull in to park, or pull out from a parking space, will decrease the number of accidents?

        I think you are wrong.

        • jwz says:

          Well, my gut reaction is that putting the parked cars between the street and the bikes would be safer, except that there is one bike lane in SF that is like that (on JFK in Golden Gate Park) and I've been nearly-doored there more times than anywhere else, because, though drivers tend to be incredibly oblivious about opening their doors, passengers are even more oblivious.

          But that bike lane isn't physically separated with a curb, or by being raised or anything like that. It's just paint. Maybe a curb would make it work.

          I guess getting doored is somewhat less likely to kill you than getting run over.

          • nooj says:

            That bike lane isn't physically separated with a curb, or by being raised or anything like that. It's just paint. Maybe a curb would make it work.

            Every city I've ever biked in where I felt safe biking had a curb (at least) between bikes and cars; and every city where I felt unsafe biking had paint (at most) between bikes and cars.

            • Jon says:

              Casual cyclists will naturally feel unsafe moving next to moving cars without physical separation. But you don't realize that this separation is not there at intersections and that's where all the bike accidents occur. So you do feel safer on the curb because you don't feel involved with all the traffic but that's an illusion, because the traffic doesn't involve you either. Once you realize that, especially when you're on the bike not just casually, you'll be grateful to be put in a place where drivers actually recognize you and actively participate in not running you over.

              • nooj says:

                Agreed about casual cyclists.

                I'm not a casual cyclist, and I would be more grateful to be in a position where cars didn't have to actively participate in not running me over. I want them to be able to pick their nose and talk on the phone with their eyes closed and still not run me over, because of a better design of roads.

              • nooj says:

                I would honestly rather be in a position where drivers are completely blind to me, and I get to choose my own risks to take. I don't like our current situation, where I have to trust drivers to be alert. If I'm in a car and a driver is mildly inattentive, I end up in a fender bender and have a sad. If I'm on a bike and a driver is mildly inattentive, I end up in the ER.

                I would rather that bikes were not treated the same as cars legally and behaviorally, because they're not. Expecting us to be part of car flow, and expecting car drivers to constantly scan for huge blobs of metal and tiny little meat sacks on wheels is insane.

          • Jon says:

            > Well, my gut reaction is that putting the parked cars between the street and the bikes would be safer

            Yeah, that sounds safer at the first thought and thats why most old bike lines over here are built like that. But it turns out that it puts cyclists out of sight of drivers and therefor at risk of being run over at intersections.

            Of course, bike lines on the road have to be designed wide enough so that cyclists can avoid opening doors. But also drivers usually tend to look for coming cars before opening a door on the street side. But I just see that you confirmed that theory already.

        • Jon says:

          Well.. that's not my theory, I'm talking statistics here, though I cannot point to it right now. :-/

          In Berlin, where I am from, most bike lines were on the side walk originally and most accidents (many of them fatal) occured because turning cars and trucks did not see the bicycles when doing right turns.

          Putting bike lanes on the streets next to the driving lanes PROVED to result in less accidents because the drivers are naturally more aware of objects moving within their space of attention than objects moving behind trees and parking cars.

          • nooj says:

            Putting bike lanes on the streets next to the driving lanes PROVED to result in less accidents

            Well, most accidents are still and always will be at intersections. Also, being in or next to the flow of car traffic gives more opportunities to collide with a car. My friends constantly joke with me that on a bike, in the flow of traffic, I'm one major component failure away from dying.

            I think better design can improve matters.

            • Jon says:

              Well, most accidents are still and always will be at intersections.

              I'm jealous of your ability to see the future. After all you're just confirming the point that safety measures have to be applied to intersections. And as absurd as it may sound, one way to do this has been to put cyclists visually closer to the drivers which leads to putting them right next to the driving lanes in most cases.

              Other measures (in Germany, at least) have been to add separate traffic lights for bicycles which turn green before the lights for cars do. That way car drivers notice the bicycle movement before they are allowed to go themselves which increases their awareness of cyclists.

              I understand your dream of getting along by bike without having to even think about the possibility of cars running you over, but putting the bike lane behind the curb alone won't solve the problem at all as long as you have intersections including lanes for motor traffic. I wonder what design you fancy which would solve that problem.

              • nooj says:

                for judicial and police policy design: aggressive enforcement of car accidents and violations against bicycles. (hell, even lackadasical enforcement would be an improvement.) as in parking tickets, bringing legal action against drivers, training police to do their damn job, pressuring police chiefs to prioritize cyclist safety.

                for civil engineering design: bike traffic signals is a great start. moving bike crossings away from turning car traffic is huge. more bike over/underpasses. more highly-protected bike- and pedestrian-only paths along natural boundaries (like rail lines, rivers, highways, etc. that prevent lots of car crossings). reduced car accessibility--ie, make bike paths be those "natural" boundaries. block car traffic on streets regularly, for the benefit of bicycle and pedestrian traffic. (ex: mass ave in boston on sunday mornings, sixth street in austin every weekend evening and every downtown event, etc.) bonus challenge: encourage new neighborhoods and commercial construction to prioritize protected bike movement.

                tax/financial design: tax breaks for bike shops. tax breaks for companies that promote bike safety or sponsor construction of bike paths. tax breaks for anyone who claims a cyclist exemption.

                there are thousands of ways to improve.

                • Jon says:

                  Your list has been an interesting read and agree with some of your proposals/examples, but some also don't sound very realistic for widespread application in a city. Some are absolutely necessary, of course, especially those regarding police. But lacking the possibility of adding over/underpasses, rivers or rail lines to every intersection of a city, putting bikes in a space where they are actually recognized by cars, has been a compromise to make cycling in the city actually safer. Believe it or not.

                  That's not to say that other measures couldn't help to improve matters further.

    • Manuel says:

      This is how it was recommended in Germany too, but city planners are going away from it: At every crossing, where bikers usually have priority, it would be very hard for a car driver turning right to see the bicycle well enough.

  10. bd says:

    Rest assured Fedex and UPS get tickets. It's simply the cost of doing business. Here's a good article about the USPS, which does not get tickets:


    And another from 2007, wherein UPS gets approximately one parking ticket every hour:


  11. Crowdsourced ubiquitous surveillance: we'll get there pretty soon. Meanwhile what we could do today is offer to deputize cyclists as meter-maids, giving them a percentage of the fines. I'd be happy to ride around all day writing tickets.

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