Bicyclists negotiate The Wiggle on Haight Street in San Francisco. (Special to S.F. Examiner/Natasha Dangond)

Supe. Avalos’ bike-yield law proposal faces key votes

A plan to allow San Francisco’s bicyclists to roll through stop signs is expected to roll out of a Board of Supervisors committee today — although the more important issue is how many supervisors will vote for it next week.

Supervisor John Avalos said Friday he expects his proposed bike yield legislation to come out of the board’s Land Use and Economic Committee today, after a public hearing on the proposal. That would place it in the hands of the full board for a vote on Dec. 15.

While Avalos has six votes, he knows he needs eight for it to become law since Mayor Ed Lee has previously stated he would veto the legislation. The mayor has not changed his position as of Friday.

To get to eight votes Avalos would need the support of Supervisor Malia Cohen, who also chairs the committee. “Malia’s position may give an indication of the Board of Supervisors vote, whether we can get to a veto-proof eight,” Avalos said.

It takes eight of the possible 11 votes to override a mayoral veto. Cohen said Friday via text message she was “undecided on bike yield.”

The genesis for the proposal happened when bicyclists became incensed this summer over Park Station Capt. John Sanford’s proactive ticketing of cyclists rolling through stop signs along the Panhandle.

That prompted a reexamination of the rationale of existing bike laws. Avalos proposed his legislation modeled after a similar existing law in Idaho.

The proposal would make citing bicyclists for not coming to complete stops at stop signs the lowest enforcement priority. Supporters say it will improve traffic flow, encourage more bicycling and free up law enforcement resources for better use. Bicyclists would have to slow to a safe speed and yield the right-of-way to any other vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection.

The Mayor’s Disability Council voted to oppose the legislation. In a Nov. 24 letter to the board, council co-chairs Chip Supanich and Denise Senhaux said the goals of the legislation “come at a high cost for seniors, people with disabilities and other pedestrians.”

“As it is today, some bicyclists consistently run red lights and fail to stop while pedestrians are in the intersection with the right of way,” the letter said. “Giving bicyclists’ permission to use their best judgment rather than following clear traffic laws would only make matters worse.”

But Avalos argues his proposal “spells out what is expected of cyclists — that they must consciously give the right of way.” He added the proposal “focuses traffic enforcement on those who use our streets dangerously, including cyclists who put pedestrians in harm’s way by not yielding.”

Super Bowl 50

The committee will also hold a hearing Monday about the planning for Super Bowl 50. The planning has been a bit of a public relations mess for The City, as many people have said they are unclear about what those plans are.

In August, the mayor made remarks about kicking the homeless out for the event. There were reports about having to take down Muni overhead wires to accommodate the event, but that has since been scrapped amid a backlash over the idea. There are also concerns about whether taxpayers will have to foot the bill for impacts to Muni service.

On Tuesday, one of the Board of Supervisors most important votes is scheduled: Whether to reject an appeal for the environmental impact report for the Warrior’s arena.

The board may look a little different Tuesday, as District 3 Supervisor-elect Aaron Peskin could begin his term. Mayor Ed Lee has 10 days from Dec. 1 to sign the certified election results. Peskin, who is vacationing in Nepal, is expected to arrive at the San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday morning.

If Lee moves forward on certifying the election results by Tuesday, Peskin will be sworn into the post that day. As of Friday, the mayor had not signed them.

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