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Bicycle ‘crackdown’ continues, cyclists fear it may be permanent

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(Michael Ares/Special to S.F. Examiner)
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It seems reports that the “bicycle crackdown” ended were premature.

Enforcement targeting bike riders along the popular east-west cycle route “The Wiggle” are back in force, bicyclists tell the San Francisco Examiner.

Morgan Fitzgibbons, a cyclist and member of The City’s Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, said he’s seen enforcement return. “It’s been almost weekly,” Fitzgibbons said.

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Targeting cyclists with tickets was a renewed effort from the summer, when Park Station Capt. John Sanford controversially started a “crackdown” on cyclists who roll through stop signs or run red lights began along the Panhandle.

Soon after, Supervisor John Avalos proposed a “bike yield law,” that would make ticketing cyclists who roll through stop signs safely a low enforcement priority for police. That law will be reviewed in a Board of Supervisors committee next week.

When Sanford announced the end of the enforcement action in August he told the community “we can revisit it at any time.”

At a police commission meeting Wednesday night, Sanford verified the bike enforcement’s back. “It’s exactly what I said to the community,” he said, “that we could resume enforcement at any time.”

Bike advocates claim the enforcement actions target cyclists who pose no physical danger to pedestrians or themselves. One of those cyclists is Katrina Sostek.

Sostek said she was ticketed for rolling through a stop sign at Church and Duboce streets Nov. 30, but was traveling slowly and safely. She showed a photo of her ticket to the Examiner. The officer wrote her speed was less than five miles per hour. “I wasn’t endangering anyone,” she said. “I slowed down, looked both ways, and went through the intersection cautiously.”

Sanford said he will task his officers with ticketing cyclists when Park Station receives complaints of unsafe cyclists. He also said only 1 percent of all traffic enforcement in The City is of cyclists. According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, bicycling represents 4 percent of all private trips locally.

Chris Cassidy, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition spokesperson, said the San Francisco Police Department should focus enforcement on autos, as they’re the source of the most dangerous collisions.

Fitzgibbons favors SFPD bringing enforcement levels in line with the number of cycling trips in The City, with a caveat.

“Please, only [ticket] the ones who are being dangerous on the road,” he said, “Do not waste your time ticketing people being perfectly safe.”

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