The San Francisco Police Department must--must!--have a great handle on serious crime. Having ended the plague of red-light running by motorists--not!--apparently the SFPD now intend to go after the last great remaining threat to public safety: bicyclists on sidewalks.
Combined with other recent developments in San Francisco--the "furor" over Critical Mass, the lawsuit against the city's bike plan--you have to think this "crackdown" on sidewalk bicycling is part of an orchestrated backlash against bicyclists, who have enjoyed great success in recent years. There are many people with grievances in San Francisco; not all of them get extensive media coverage. It wouldn't be surprising that a mayor facing re-election and challenged for his lack of environmental leadership might suggest his media backers wage a campaign to put the most effective advocates (SFBC) on the defensive.
What's interesting to note in this video clip is who the bicyclists pictured actually are. They're not bike commuters during peak rush hour. They're nearly all messengers, transients, or people on vacation. Who else would you expect to see on a bike during a work day? What might have helped this story would have been some context. It was merely suggested by the messenger, who cited the danger of cars as a cause of hopping on the sidewalk. Another factor forcing sidewalk riding is one-way streets.
As always, I strongly discourage sidewalk bicycling. However, sometimes circumstances (or poor street design) force a short traverse of pedestrian space. Cars, for instance, routinely cross sidewalks to access driveways, and too often they park and block walkers. Pedestrians always have the right of way, and bicyclists should absolutely respect that.
However, do I want public safety agencies to shift their focus from the greater and more lethal threat of vehicular crime to deal with minimally threatening sidewalk cycling? Let's get real. I expect this "crackdown" to last until the cameras move on to the next "crisis."
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Posted by Paul Dorn at 10:13 AM