With last week's two separate hit-and-run deaths of cyclists still very much on his mind, Streetsblog editor Roger Rudick writes yesterday that on Saturday he decided to talk a walk down Market Street with his brother. He was expecting a leisurely stroll — what he got instead was an interaction with city officials and police who he says refused to enforce the law on the busy stretch of bike lanes.
Rudick encountered a city-owned Prius parked in the Embarcadero-bound bike lane on Market at 9th Street, and explains he watched as cyclists struggled to go around the vehicle.
"My brother and I walked across Market where there was a group of SFMTA enforcement officers and SFPD standing guard," writes Rudick. "I asked them if they knew whose car it was and they pointed to [a nearby city employee]." What happens next will read as all too familiar to any San Francisco cyclist.
I asked the man in the photo above if he was experiencing an emergency. He said “no.” I asked if that was his car parked on the bike lane. He said “yes.” I explained that on Wednesday two cyclists were killed in San Francisco, and that he was creating a hazard, and that lots of people had fought for that bike lane, which he was making useless.
I asked him to move the Prius.
He said “no.”
Rudick then tried to elicit the assistance of nearby SFPD officers, who he says not only refused to help him but physically turned their backs on him. City vehicles not responding to an emergency are not, of course, allowed to park in bike lanes.
That this exchange was happening mere blocks from where a driver operating a city vehicle struck and killed a woman in a crosswalk last February only adds to the frustration.
It was just Thursday of last week that Mayor Ed Lee called out the drivers in the previous day's hit-and-runs, with KQED reporting that the Mayor specifically highlighted a need for better enforcement of existing traffic laws.
“As much as we are doing to educate the public, whether it’s through signage, through education, we have to also do a level of enforcement to hold these individuals accountable and make sure that they are using our streets safely,” Lee told a gathered crowd. “These are totally avoidable tragedies. Totally avoidable.”
Of course to avoid car-on-cyclist tragedies, the SFPD needs to hold accountable all those who are not using our streets safely — something which Rudick's experience shows us is still a long way from reality.