A candidate for District 7 supervisor and columnist for the Examiner yesterday published a bizarrely out-of-touch op-ed suggesting that San Francisco mandate people be required to get special licenses, insurance, and registration before they are allowed to ride a bike. Needless to say, this suggestion has not been well received — and the candidate has already started backpedaling.
"Bicyclists in San Francisco should have to register their bike, obtain a license and carry a minimum amount of liability insurance — the same requirements for driving a car," writes Joel Engardio. "We have one set of roads long dominated by automobiles. But as a growing number of bicycle commuters assert political power to get their own lanes, they need to put some skin in the game."
While the families of those killed by drivers might argue cyclists already have "some skin in the game," putting one's life on the line every time you hop on a bike to head work isn't enough for Engardio.
"If cars and bikes are going to share city roads," continues Engardio, "which is where the future is headed — the responsibility for safe co-existence should also be shared."
You see? It's totally a shared responsibility between cyclists and drivers to not get killed in hit-and-runs. Man, if only someone had told Katherine Slattery that she might still be alive today.
Engardio quickly moves to calm down all those cycling advocates out there — he's totally pro-cycling! He promises. He's just worried about people like his friend who got doored and then was stuck with "thousands of dollars in expenses." Mandatory bike insurance would have solved that, you see.
Not everyone, however, can cut through the bullshit as well as Engardio to determine easily and without data that the real reason streets are unsafe for anyone other than drivers is that people on bikes don't have riders' licenses. Enter the buzzkills over at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
"It's hard to respond to Mr. Engardio's misguided piece without noting the factual inaccuracies," SF Bike Coalition spokesperson Chris Cassidy told SFist. "For instance, Mr. Engardio doesn't seem to be aware that it's illegal to door people biking, and the person who opens a car door into oncoming traffic is legally liable for the consequences. If someone is doored biking, they should follow the tips on our crash checklist, get a police report and have the insurance of the person who doored them cover their expenses."
Oh, hmm, so maybe Engardio's proposal wouldn't have helped in the case of his friend, but surely "mandatory bike registration, license and insurance could prevent accidents by generating the revenue needed to design and build safer roads" as he argues. Right?
"It's unfortunate to see that facts didn't get in the way of Mr. Engardio's effort to draw much-needed attention to his campaign for elected office," jabs Cassidy. "Another fact that Mr. Engardio overlooked is that transportation is the second-highest household expense in San Francisco after housing. His proposal to raise the cost of transportation on SF households whose transportation choices cost the public the least in terms of infrastructure maintenance is an idea straight from the 1950s, when city planners delivered the congestion and reduced air quality that we experience today."
If that wasn't enough, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Brian Wiedenmeier penned a piece in response to Engardio's claiming the candidate is "[attempting] to pit people who bike against people who use other modes of transportation."
Perhaps stung by an overwhelming negative response on social media, Engardio has already started renouncing his own column. In a Medium piece published this afternoon, the candidate acknowledged that his idea was, well, stupid. "Of course, not every idea will be a good one," he wrote. "As for my latest contribution, one tweet perfectly summed it up: 'Good motivation, bad solution.' ”
Meanwhile, keep an eye out for all those dangerous unlicensed cyclists.