Rolling stop for bikes advances without key support

Supervisor Malia Cohen voted Monday against legislation that would allow bicycles to roll through stop signs in The City, likely dooming the proposal.

Supervisor John Avalos, who proposed the law, had suggested Cohen was an instrumental vote to ensure Mayor Ed Lee could not succeed in vetoing the bill. The mayor has already said he would, and it takes eight of the Board’s 11 votes to override a veto.

Supervisor Scott Wiener and Avalos voted to support the legislation at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee, which is chaired by Cohen. The full board is scheduled to vote on the item Dec. 15.

“I have real concerns about this ordinance,” Cohen said before taking her vote. “I am concerned that will it confuse the issue and create even greater misunderstanding between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians.”

She added that the law would “come at a high cost to pedestrians, disabled and seniors, so I will not be supporting this ordinance today.”

Avalos’ proposal is a nod to a similar law in the state of Idaho, which allows bicyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, if there are no cars or bikes in the vicinity.

Cohen’s criticism of the proposal echoed the position recently taken by the Mayor’s Disability Council.

Supporters of the legislation say police should focus resources on more dangerous behavior than bicyclists who roll through stops signs. Rolling through stop signs would also improve traffic flow and encourage more bicycling, supporters say.

Under the proposal, bicyclists would have to slow to a safe speed of under six miles per hour and yield the right-­of­-way to any other vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition strongly supports the measure, while Police Chief Greg Suhr opposes it.

Board President London Breed is one of the six supervisors who supports the proposal. “I think he’s wrong,” Breed said in reference to the mayor’s plan to veto the bill. “This is something that we need to do.”

The proposal was introduced when bicyclists were targeted over the summer by Park Station Capt. John Sanford, who increased ticketing cyclists rolling through stop signs along the Panhandle.

Cohen said she “would be interested” in a pilot program “in one of the most highly trafficked bike corridors.”

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