It looked like recently proposed 'Idaho Stop' legislation was in the clear last week as a majority of the Board of Supervisors backed the legislation making ticketing cyclists who safely rolled through stop signs SFPD's lowest priority. But now we learn that Mayor Ed Lee is pulling rank, calling the proposed ordinance to a halt with the promise of a veto.
“I’m not willing to trade away safety for convenience, and any new law that reaches my desk has to enhance public safety, not create potential conflicts that can harm our residents,” Lee told The Chronicle, who note the mayor has only exercised his power of veto three times while in office.
Supervisors London Breed, Jane Kim, Eric Mar, Scott Wiener and David Campos all co-sponsored the proposed Idaho Stop legislation, meaning it would need two more votes of support to override a veto.
As San Francisco pushes toward its stated Vision Zero goal — a plan of action to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024 — the kerfuffle over ticketing cyclists represents something of a proxy fight. Where, city officials are debating, should police invest their time and effort?
“There are other places to put [SFPD's] resources that will have a much greater impact on protecting pedestrians,” Avalos said last week, “It shouldn't be the police’s top priority to enforce the law for cyclists who actually yield to pedestrians but don’t come to a complete stop at intersections.”
The situation kicked off back in June when Captain John Sanford arrived at SFPD's Park Station vowing to ticket more cyclists along the popular Wiggle route within his jurisdiction. The move drew ire from local cyclists, with advocacy group the Wigg Party staging a "Stop-In" during July, with cyclists following the letter of the law in an act of civil obedience and fully stopping at intersections to demonstrate possible traffic problems.
For a bit of perspective, cycling tickets account for just 1 percent of traffic tickets in San Francisco overall according to Police Chief Greg Suhr. So even with Idaho Stop legislation likely thwarted by Mayor Lee, Police will continue to prioritize cars over bikes. And you can be sure — full stop — that bikes will keep on rolling through empty intersections.
Update: Supervisor Avalos has tweeted the following photo of a letter from Lee expressing his opposition to the proposed yield ordinance.