Advocates pursuing rolling-stop bicycle OK despite S.F.'s mayors veto

S.F. police chief joins Mayor Ed Lee in opposing measure

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee followed through Tuesday on his pledge to veto an ordinance that would have allowed bicyclists to roll through stop signs when it was safe to do so.

The ordinance, introduced by Supervisor John Avalos in September, was approved by the S.F Board of Supervisors 6-4 at last week's meeting but failed to garner the eight votes it would need to override a veto.

Avalos argued the legislation would improve public safety by making bicycle stop sign violations a low enforcement priority and directing police to focus on the most dangerous vehicle violations, including speeding.

Bicyclists practicing unsafe behaviors could still have been ticketed.

Police Chief Greg Suhr and Lee came out strongly against the bill, however, with Lee vowing to veto it just a week after it was introduced.

In a letter sent to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Lee said the bill "does not promote balanced public safety for all the diverse users of our streets, rather, it trades safety for convenience."

The ordinance was inspired by a police crackdown this summer on cyclists along the popular bicycle route known as "The Wiggle," connecting Market Street to Golden Gate Park.

The enforcement effort targeting bike riders who rolled through stop signs triggered an outcry from bicyclists. It also inspired "wiggle stop-in" protests in July and August in which cyclists stopped at every stop sign on their route, significantly tying up traffic in the area.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition today said the veto was a "major step away" from a pledge made by Lee and police officials in 2014 to work toward Vision Zero, a goal to eliminate traffic deaths in the city by 2024.

While police said they would focus on the top five most dangerous traffic violations, all of which involve vehicles, they continue to focus on ticketing bicyclists rolling safely through stop signs, the coalition said in a statement.

Avalos said it was "disappointing to hear the mayor confuse smart, targeted traffic enforcement with 'convenience.'"

"Judging how SFPD has focused traffic enforcement on places where bicycling is common instead of on high collision corridors, it is clear we have a ways to go with our Vision Zero efforts," Avalos said in a statement.

Avalos and bicycle coalition officials today said they are now hoping to develop and gather support for a smaller pilot program to test the rolling stop legislation, although it is unclear at this point what form that will take.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

— Bay City News Service


3 people like this
Posted by Alexey
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 21, 2016 at 8:55 am

The law does not allow going at full speed through intersections - just to slow down to crawling speed. As a bicycle rider, I can tell it make a lot of difference - accelerating from 0 is much more difficult.

4 people like this
Posted by Jim Van Dyke
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 22, 2016 at 9:44 am

I hope Pleasanton, as the city of planned progress, will also soon consider allowing bike riders rolling stops when no other roadway users are present in the intersection. Bear in mind that bike riders have unparalleled visibility of other travelers, and while they are at risk of being injured by motorists this risk is one-sided (because a bike rider isn't likely to injure a motorist). As a person who is closely following this topic, I'd urge readers to catch the key sentence in the article above, which accurately stated that when everyday bike riders actually DID come to a complete halt at every stop sign, traffic was intolerably tied up for motorists everywhere! In other words, if bike riders follow the letter of the law it is BAD for motorists because they are inconvenienced.

4 people like this
Posted by EagleEyes
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 22, 2016 at 10:38 am

The last time I saw a Pleasanton adult on a bike stop for a stop sign when traffic was clear was in 1995.

5 people like this
Posted by don't need that here
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 22, 2016 at 10:48 am

Pleasanton is far different from SF as we do not have blocked intersections due to the massive number of bike commuters. We simply have overly entitled cyclists who refuse to comply with any of the laws. They ride two and three across into the lanes of traffic, they don't even pretend to slow down for stop lights or stop signs, they ride full speed on the sidewalks and they are never cited for any of this.

When these jerks start complying with the laws -- ALL of the LAWS -- then we might consider a little relief on the full stops.

4 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 22, 2016 at 11:06 am

Rolling stop for bikes is last thing we need.. Not good for cars or bikes. Cars must now wait for bikes to pull over since cars cannot cross yellow lines! More danger for all with my way or highway attitude of bike riders. Good judgement by SF Mayor.

4 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 22, 2016 at 11:19 am

The only bicyclist I have ever seen stop at an intersection was maybe a 4 or 5 year old on a bike with training wheels and the parents walking alongside, as for all those other bikers, HEY, share the road and start following the rules of the road!! Allowing cars to cruise thru red lights and stop signs would be good for the environment by using a lot less fossil fuels- why not take out all stop signs and stop lights, first person through that intersection wins!!

1 person likes this
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sycamore Heights
on Jan 22, 2016 at 1:22 pm

Paris is one of the latest cites to allow rolling bicycle stops. Following a six month test period they discovered that deaths and injuries from car-bicycle collisions dropped significantly. And yes, there are as many bicyclists violating stop signs and lights as there are motorists. Please member that stoplights with sensors do not always register bicyclist.

3 people like this
a resident of Avila
on Jan 23, 2016 at 9:04 am

Remember driving is a privilege not a right. The only difference is the DMV requires some vehicle drivers to be licenced. With that said, the laws are for EVERYONE ! So do as I do, I follow the law perfectly.
When I approach an intersection with four way stop or cross traffic stop and see bicyclist approaching, I wait at my stop sign till they are at theirs and slowly pull into the intersection as they get to their stop sign, with a complete stop from the bicyclist there is never a problem, but for the law breakers, well that's a different story. Usually an unlawful bycyclist will run their stop sign, too bad. The laws are quite clear, ALL VEHICALS MUST STOP AT A STOP SIGN. I have every right to expect ALL users of the roadway to obey the laws as they are written.

2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 23, 2016 at 10:01 am

"When I approach an intersection with four way stop or cross traffic stop and see bicyclist approaching, I wait at my stop sign till they are at theirs"

You don't have to wait if you are already stopped and they are still approaching the stop sign. You can go ahead.

1 person likes this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2016 at 10:50 am

Special privileges for special people, like Hilderbeast!!?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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