Police captain against Bike Yield Law

The man who started the “bike crackdown,” ramping up ticketing of cyclists rolling slowly through stop signs or blowing red lights, has now come out publicly against the proposed Bike Yield Law.

San Francisco Police Department Captain John Sanford, who heads Park Station near the Panhandle, torched the new law in his newest Park Station Newsletter.

“Being such a dense city, with so many visitors and distracted drivers, I will never be convinced it is safe to disobey any of the traffic laws, especially stop signs and red lights,” Sanford wrote in the newsletter.

The Bike Yield Law was proposed by Supervisor John Avalos, and was passed on first reading at the Board of Supervisors without a veto-proof majority. It will be voted on a second and final time Jan. 12. Mayor Ed Lee vowed to veto it.

The law would task the SFPD with deprioritizing enforcement of cyclists who safely yield at stop signs, and come to a full stop if they see autos or pedestrians. If neither are present, cyclists may roll through the intersection without stopping.

The law was proposed after Sanford increased ticketing of cyclists near “The Wiggle,” a popular east-west bicycle commuter route that passes by the Golden Gate Park Panhandle.

Sanford wrote the law “is unsafe for a pedestrian, cyclist and motorist [sic]. Such behavior is too unpredictable and based on my years of experience, I know it is a recipe for collisions.”

He then characterized the law as being written to accommodate cyclists, and wrote it “would create chaos on our streets.”

When the San Francisco Examiner told Avalos about Sanford’s strong opposition to his law, Avalos said, “It’s simple. Don’t waste resources going after the cyclists who ride safely. If you follow his logic there’s a lot of unsafe cyclists out there he can concentrate on.”

But, Avalos said, enforcement data along the Wiggle shows SFPD responding to “perception of danger,” and Sanford is committing “an exorbitant amount of resources” to ticket at intersections The City has not identified as high-injury intersections.

The supervisor said Sanford isn’t the best example of his own biking beliefs, and referred to a viral video of Sanford revealed by a bicyclist in September. In the video, Sanford can be seen riding his bike in Golden Gate Park gliding straight through a stop sign.

“Well, even Sanford demonstrated on video that in practice he rolls and yields,” Avalos said.

Watch video of Captain Sanford rolling through a stop sign, below.

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