Mike Koozmin/2011 S.F. Examiner file photoBay to Breakers’ backpack ban and crackdown on unregistered runners have been called ineffective.

Security expert decries new Bay to Breakers safety plan

A security expert has judged new safety measures for the Craigslist Bay to Breakers race that include a ban on backpacks and containers over a certain size to be “really stupid.”

Race organizers and San Francisco police on Monday announced that unregistered runners would be removed from the course. In addition, any bag or container 8½-by-11-by-4 inches or larger will be banned. The security measures are in response to the deadly bombings last month at the Boston Marathon, where two explosive devices carried in backpacks were detonated near crowds of people amassed near the finish line.

The backpack ban at Bay to Breakers drew a withering response from Bruce Schneier, a security expert, cryptographer and outspoken critic of the Transportation Security Administration.

He mocked the size limit as arbitrary, since bombs can be made smaller than the dimensions that are banned.
Schneier added that San Francisco has plenty of competition when it comes to knee-jerk overreactions to the Boston bombings.

“You want to get stupider?” asked Schneier, who coined the phrase “security theater” to describe overt, heavy-handed responses to terror that make people no safer. “The Kentucky Derby is banning cameras that have interchangeable lenses.”

Unlike the Boston Marathon — where onlookers massed at the finish line to cheer on participants — Bay to Breakers runners and observers tend to form a mobile drinking party through the entire city.

That would render a backpack ban even more difficult. But Schneier feels it’s a fool’s errand regardless. When asked if it’s even possible to weed out everyone with bags exceeding 8½-by-11-by-4 inches from a citywide course, he replied, “of course not. But they can make life miserable for some of them.”

The proper course of action for the Bay to Breakers, he continued, would be “The same thing they’re doing to stave off an alien invasion: Nothing.”


Bay Area NewsBay to BreakersLocalSan Francisco Police Department

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

DA drops charges against man seen in video of officer using knee restraint

Footage leads to calls for SF police to explicity ban move used in death of George Floyd

City curfew to continue after board fails to muster votes to end it

San Francisco’s curfew order in response to days of protests was hotly… Continue reading

Bayview charter school sues SFUSD for more classroom space

Company calls plan to move to Treasure Island a ‘bad faith offer’

Supes move to reject Breed’s picks for police oversight body, call for strong reformers

Ronen, Mar cite qualification concerns in voting against Police Commission nominees

SF public defender urges police to explicitly bar technique used in George Floyd death

Public Defender Manohar Raju is calling for policy changes after a widely… Continue reading

Most Read