Friday, March 13, 2015

Add traffic ticket quotas to parking ticket quotas

We've known for years that San Francisco's meter maids/dudes have parking ticket quotas in a city that has the most expensive parking tickets in the country, a major source of revenue (see page 11) for the city ($88,889,809 in FY 2012-13). See also this, this, and this.

Now we have traffic ticket quotas for the SFPD. From the SF Examiner:

Last year, the Police Department committed itself to protecting the public from a dangerous weapon: speeding vehicles. As part of the effort, the department said it would increase traffic citations of the most dangerous driving behaviors, seen as key in lowering pedestrian deaths in The City. But a recent review of Police Department citation data shows only one police station out of 10 is meeting its goal to increase driver citations: Richmond station. The other nine lag behind.

The problem with quotas is that it already encourages parking control officers to issue tickets just to meet their quotas. But giving out parking tickets is really the only thing those folks do, whereas city cops have other equally important duties.

And the obligatory reference to Vision Zero:

The City has committed to end all traffic deaths by 2024, in a safety priority called Vision Zero. The Vision Zero strategy involves re-engineering dangerous intersections to make them safer, safety education and safety enforcement---the last of which is the Police Department’s responsibility.

Unless the city knows how to "re-engineer" human nature, that goal can't possibly be achieved, since members of our species sometimes indulge in unsafe behavior with fatal consequences no matter how well streets are designed or policed. And it seems unlikely that the SFPD has enough manpower to assign cops just to meet the quotas. 

Vision Zero isn't really policy; it's just a slogan. But it sounds good and pleases the Bicycle Coalition and Walk San Francisco, much like the unattainable slogans from days of yore, 20% by 2020 and 10% by 2010. Neither goal was possible to achieve, and all trips by bike in the city remain stubbornly below 4%.

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