Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Grand Jury and scofflaw cyclists

This letter to the editor appeared in the SF Examiner:

Target Scofflaw Bicyclists

Reducing bicyclist, pedestrian and motorist fatalities is a laudable goal, but are the remedies offered by the civil grand jury effective and appropriate?

The grand jury report urges City Hall to take the initiative to reduce bicycle deaths through education and enforcement. Since police enforcement is currently close to nil for bike violations, especially for riding on the sidewalk, it is doubtful The City has the political will to enforce traffic violations made by scofflaw bicyclists.

And the grand jury wants to extend "bicycle education" to motorists and pedestrians. Since there is no apparent decrease in accidents, fatalities and near-misses with the current level of bicycle education, why would San Francisco want to expand a failed "education only" approach to bicycle safety? Apparently not mentioned in this report as a way to generate funds and promote safety for everyone is to require licenses and insurance by bicyclists in San Francisco. If the Grand Jury was truly concerned about safety for all, it would have addressed licensing and insurance issues.

Sadly, it appears that the San Francisco grand jury has become another San Francisco scofflaw bicyclist apologist. Let the next report on bicycle safety be written by insurance adjusters, risk assessment specialists and physics professors.

Fiona McGregor
San Francisco

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At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If sidewalk cycling had been completely eliminated 10 years ago, it would have reduced fatalities by ZERO. Because sidewalk cyclists have caused ZERO fatalities.

At 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the next report on bicycle safety be written by insurance adjusters, risk assessment specialists and physics professors.

risk assessment specialists would quickly determine that the number one cause of accidents in San Francisco is motor vehicles. But that would not jibe with Fiona's narrative.

The city only puts out any report in this area as pablum for crazies like Anderson and serial LTTE writer McGregor. While cyclists are not a non-issue, the actual relative danger posed by cyclists is so minimal it's a joke.

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It's no joke for those impacted by Punks on Bikes on Sidewalks, not to mention the punks who killed two pedestrians in crosswalks recently, both of whom were elderly.

The Chronicle had a story on the ongoing problem of cyclists on city sidewalks back in 2007.The story notes that there were two fatalities caused by cyclists on sidewalks since 2000:

Seniors demand cyclists be kept off sidewalks
Rachel Gordon
SF Chronicle
Friday,March 2, 2007

Jeanne Lynch didn't see or hear the two bicyclists before they rammed into her, leaving her bruised, cut and needing braces on her neck and left arm.Luckily the 77-year-old senior activist didn't become part of the grim statistic of pedestrians killed by bicyclists in San Francisco."They just plowed into me from behind and knocked me down," she said of the crash that happened a couple of years ago on the sidewalk outside her Richmond District home."They didn't even stop.They just kept going."

On Thursday, Lynch joined other activists at a South of Market intersection to demand that bicyclists stay off the sidewalk. "For too long the city has allowed illegal and improper use of its sidewalks," said David Grant, executive director of Senior Action Network, which organized the event."For years, pedestrians have been squeezed, shoved, intimidated and injured by bicyclists and motorists.The sidewalk is a designated walkway, not a parking lot for cars or a bike lane for cyclists."

Authorities responded with a promise to step up enforcement of the law that prohibits people from riding bikes on the sidewalk.The violation, an infraction, comes with a $138 fine.

"It's a serious problem, especially for seniors," said San Francisco police Sgt.Bob Guinan, who heads a traffic squad.He said his officers will start citing people who violate the law, and initially will concentrate their efforts on the Market Street corridor, which is well-traveled by cyclists.

An exception to the no-bike rule is made for children 12 and younger who can ride their two-wheelers on the sidewalk.And cyclists of all ages are allowed on the sidewalk along the Embarcadero closest to the bay.

Since 2000, three pedestrians have been killed by bicycles and more than 20 others have sustained injuries requiring hospitalization, according to Michael Radetsky, injury-prevention coordinator for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

"We believe there have been many more incidents that haven't been reported," Radetsky said.Ruth Lawner, 74, uses a wheelchair and has been hit twice by bicycles--once in December and again in January, she said.Both times, she said, she was on the sidewalk and the culprits sped away without checking to see if she was all right.

Lawner was not seriously hurt, but on one occasion the cyclist rammed into her motorized wheelchair and knocked out the power, making it difficult to get home."They are putting people in danger.They menace people in wheelchairs and who use canes and walkers," she said...

At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since 2000, three pedestrians have been killed by bicycles

--> Nationwide? Statewide? Citywide?

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You rag on the SFBC, but you conveniently omitted this part of the Gordon article...

Andy Thornley, program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, showed up at Thursday's event to support a crackdown on law-breaking cyclists -- and to push city officials for more bike lanes.

"There's a perception that riding on the sidewalk is safer than riding on the street, but for the most part riding on the sidewalks is more dangerous for everyone," Thornley said.

The bike coalition will work with city officials on a new public awareness campaign called "Sidewalks Are for Pedestrians."

At 5:25 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

You cannot have a clear picture of the merits or failings of a mode of transportation solely based on the number of fatalities "caused" by a certain type of transportation. That is naive thinking. If there was a particular medical operation that saved thousands of lives a year, and improved the quality of lives of tens of thousands more, but five people died due to it, would it be worth it? It's not smart to singularly zone in on a single stat as the be-all, end-all justification to all modifications. The only reason for doing so would be because it didn't support one's wishes.

At 6:45 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Oh, please spare me the mealy-mouthed SFBC statements about riding on sidewalks. Contrary to Thornley's statement, riding on sidewalks is in fact safer for cyclists, but obviously not for pedestrians. Besides, the two pedestrians killed by cyclists recently weren't on the sidewalk; they were in crosswalks.

According to the Bicycle Count Report, cyclists riding on sidewalks is not unusual, and the recent incident where a cyclist ran down a woman downtown happened on a sidewalk.

In reality the SFBC has no real role to play on safety on city streets, except to whip up hysteria whenever a cyclist gets hit by a motor vehicle---or to make the right noises when a cyclist kills someone (recall their "scofflaw" report that came out after the pedestrians were killed by cyclists.)

At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So the SFBC does what you want but you still get upset that they are playing politics. What do you want? Them shut down?

At 8:53 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

It would be good for the city if they just went away, but that's too much to hope for. The Bicycle Coalition is about nothing but pushing its anti-car, pro-bike agenda. It's pro-forma statements about good cycling behavior are nothing but PR.

At 9:09 AM, Anonymous Jesse said...

Accidents like this never happen with a bike. It's fortunate that no one was around during the time it happened or many people could have been injured and died. If bikes on sidewalks scare you to death, this should give you a heart attack.

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This comment by "sfthen" got derailed by my anti-spam efforts before it could be published:

In "Bicycle Paradise" Copenhagen a pedestrian advocacy group calls cyclists "the plague of the pavement," says the NY Times article which indicates that just like San Francisco there are: Creeps in Copenhagen

At 10:56 AM, Anonymous Jesse said...

"Bike safety has improved recently, he said, thanks to a range of measures, including wider bike paths and programs to alert bikers to the need for discipline. “Last year, we had the lowest number of traffic accidents ever, including the lowest number of fatalities involving bicycles ever,” he said. In 2010, the number of seriously injured cyclists dropped to 92, including 3 fatalities, compared with 252 seriously injured only five years earlier."

So given the numbers are dropping there and less people are getting injured or killed, we should be looking at anecdotal evidence in this story?

At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Contrary to Thornley's statement, riding on sidewalks is in fact safer for cyclists, but obviously not for pedestrians"

Wrong. I'd love to see a citation to that effect, except that none exists, you just made it up. Again.

In "Bicycle Paradise" Copenhagen a pedestrian advocacy group calls cyclists "the plague of the pavement,"

sfthen is probably not aware that in Europe, the word "pavement" means "sidewalk". Any cyclist on a sidewalk is indeed a plague. They belong on the roads, just as Thornley states.


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