San Francisco City Hall hears horrifying tales of cops' hostility to cyclists


#1

[Permalink]


#2

If only cops got prosecuted for filing false police reports, or anything for that matter.


#3

If the Internet hasn't taught you this already, I'll spell it out: never interact with a cop without your smartphone running the CopRecorder app.


#4

That's the part I don't understand: regardless of the subject, and one's feelings on bicycles and things, the sort of conduct described in the article surrounding police reports (both blatant falsification and blatant intimidation of people who object) seem like they, under any sane arrangement, ought to be, as they say "very career limiting" for the cops involved.

A cop who is known to sometimes generate false reports is worse than useless: you know that he is sometimes doing overt injustice, and you can't trust any of his work because you know some of it is false. Firing seems like the absolute minimum response, with prosecution the minimum required to meet the standards of justice, and prosecution, imprisonment, and letting the general population sort the problem out the one that bears witness to the gravity of failing to uphold the duty implicit in being an agent of state force.


#5

I think it's one of those things where society has shown itself unable to adapt to change, and forced integration should be the next step.

Where I live there's a few roads that are extremely popular for bikers.. smooth pavement, easy to get to, restricted quantities of motor vehicles. On busy days the ratio of bikes to cars can be close to 1:1. In this area, people in cars are noticeably deferential to bikers. While correlation isn't causation it seems to me that being familiar with bicycles does a lot to improve how drivers act around them. Once you get a few miles away from this "safe harbor" bicyclists are treated like frustrating speedbumps.

It seems to me that mandating "share the road" laws either in terms of harsher penalties for injuring a biker or generating lanes dedicated to cyclists is something that needs to be done now rather than later.. as fuel costs and global warming will inevitably push people to human powered transportation, you want to get the societal change started as soon as possible.

SF cops are a good indication there's a long ways to go on this.


#6

My biggest issue with "asshole cyclists", and I expect the biggest issue for most people, if they thought about it hard, is actually the fear of injuring them while driving. Which is not insignificant, and can make your day really unpleasant, but helps to keep any feelings of "victimhood" in check. I'm a pedestrian 99% of the time, though, and while "asshole cyclists" are now more of a threat to me, I don't think about it much because the very low number of them comes more clearly into focus.

As to SF, while I'd never cycle (20% fear of shitty drivers -- SF has terrible drivers -- 80% hills) I'm always astonished at people who have a "car first" view of the city. The city is simply not for cars.


#7

So I'll cue the comments that you will see soon. 'Cyclists are CRAZY they ALWAYS blow through stop signs, They NEVER follow the traffic laws. It serves them right!"

I wrote a post about how I stop at stop signs. I don't blow thru stop lights. I signal. I don't ride on the sidewalks. Then people comment. "You are the ONLY cyclist in the history of the city who ever does that!" Well guess what?. I know a lot of cyclists who do. They are right next to me at the stoplight.

One of the reasons that I do is that I want to model good behavior. I won't make excuses for bikes not obeying the law. I also have a way to let the other cyclists know that they should follow the law too. When I'm at a stop sign and they blow through when I catch up to them. "Are you okay?" They will say, 'Yeah." I reply, "Well I was worried that you didn't spot that stop sign and I was afraid that you might have gotten hurt":. or "I was afraid you didn't see it" or (something like that) because then they can save face. 'Oh yeah I didn't notice it, thanks. " If they then go on a rant about why they shouldn't have to stop I can ask, "Okay, why do you ride your bike?. Exercise, to save the environment? " If it is for exercise you can get more by starting and stopping. If to save the environment are you putting out more green house gases when you are stopped at a stop sign? Time? How many minutes do you save?

Do you believe that cyclists have special rights? That some laws don't apply to them? If that is true, then what laws should apply and what shouldn't ? Why? Are you working to change the laws so they don't apply to cyclists?

Does it bother you when people break the laws on Wall Street? Does it bother you than the people in Wall Street changed the laws because they didn't think they applied to them? That they paid off the "financial cops" so that they don't get prosecuted breaking the laws that still exist? Is it okay if they break the laws as long as they don't get caught?

If a law is stupid should you have to obey it? Are stop signs stupid? Should cars be able to ignore the laws when nobody is around? Why not? Is it only because they might be ticketed and are more dangerous that they obey the law?
Has a bike ever killed someone by blowing through a stop sign or red light? Should that be the only criteria for obeying the law, if YOU hurt someone else? If other people hurt you, is that okay for you to ignore the law? If you take the responsibility for being hurt do you also carry insurance to cover you medical costs and the costs of the trauma to the people who hurt you? If you were driving a car and you killed a pedestrian who broke the rules because they didn't believe the laws applied to them would that bother you, since it didn't give you a choice yet you would bear the burden of killing them? Will you just have to "Live with it?"

I have a lot of other questions and I know that there are people who have answers that they consider valid, but unless they are willing to have the people driving cars to have the same reasons for ignoring the laws they can not have any moral high ground in this issue.


#8

Check out this bike lane in Philadelphia, filled with parked cop cars (yes the unmarked ones too), it was like this every day, which is why I took the photo:
http://postimg.org/image/raptmlu4n/


#9

The best suggestion I saw in that article is for the city to require every police officer to do a few months of duty on a bike, so they can learn what it's like.


#10

I don't know what city you live in but in SF it's easily 9 out of 10 cyclists that don't stop at intersections. I've thought about setting up cameras to show it and just to actually count up cyclist violations vs motorist violations. Other cyclists get angry when I stop. The only places they generally stop is at huge intersections like crossing Van Ness or Octavia while going down Market. Anything slightly less and no stopping. I defy you to show me a single cyclist that stops on 24th street at a single stop sign in Noe Valley except possibly Church and 24th. I've even seen dads with kids in tow plough through the stop signs putting their kids at risk.

Spocko, I too stop at every intersection on my bike even if there's no cars around. But I rarely see anyone else do it. Hang out at Market where it crosses Gough. I don't think I've ever seen a bike stop there going downtown. Hang out anywhere on the Wiggle between Market and Fell. No one is stopping. (when I say "no one" clearly I'm stopping so there must be others but I've personally never seen anyone stop in those locations ever unless there's a car just about to cross)


#11

I don't think it would work. Cops in squad cars do a terrible job, by and large, of following the rules. Why would cops on bikes be any different? Their uniform protects them from repercussions.

Where I live, bicycle cops are among the worst at following the traffic laws. They ride like absolute doofuses. All the things rant-y bike haters claim "all cyclists" do - bike cops sure do them more than the average cyclist.

EDIT: require them to do a few months of plainclothes duty on a bike, and we might get somewhere.


#12

There's actually a reasonable argument to be made, I think, for rolling stops at stop signs. By the time a motorist's front wheels touch the stop sign, their eyes are a good distance back from the line. They need to be stopped by that point.

By the time a cyclist's eyes reach the same point as the driver's, their front wheel is way back of the line. As long as they've slowed down to a moderate pace, they have time to look both ways, spot any cars coming, and stop at the stop line if the situation calls for it.

That's not an argument for "blowing through" stop signs, but for treating them more like a yield sign.

Some jurisdictions have this actually encoded in law, others just treat it as informally OK.


#13

Funny, I just ran across this site today: http://copsinbikelanes.tumblr.com/


#14

I’ve yet to see one that is.

Well, okay, I suppose Houston. But that’s not really a city in any true sense of the word.


#15

I"m with you buddy.

I cycle a lot here in London, and in the hoard of Wiggo-wannabes, there are a lot of assholes. The cycling "revolution" (I read reversion, reversion in the face of awful public transport and jam-packed roads) can take place in relative safety, but it isn't, and we lose a cyclist a month, usually to trash trucks turning in on them at junctions. It's horrible.

Cyclists don't need to be deferential, they shouldn't be aggressive - they should get on their bikes with a defensive driving mindset, and practice good road etiquette. 90% of cyclists do, and 50% of those can actually control their bikes. The other 10% ride like dicks. They don't just jostle at reds (we've got a lot of special bike stop lines about 15 feet from the car stop) - they will pull in front of people (like me), readying for the takeoff.

I'm fast though - I've cycled my whole life, I ride a 20 year old mountain bike with slicks, and I keep pace with all but the superfit guys on $10k bikes. So that jostling, it pisses me off. Get out of my way.

That aside, bike on bike not being the problem, cyclists need to be good ambassadors on the road. Ambassadors for cycling. 10% of cyclists are, and a fair percentage follow the lead. I am. But the level of militant aggression fuelled by organisations like the London Cycling Campaign, with which I correspond, is tilting the overall feel on the road - even for me, as a cyclist - against the mass of cycles zooming round. The 10% are sufficiently arrogant, and organisations like the LCC sufficiently unresponsive to the threat they're creating, that 50% of drivers get pissed at cyclists.

Which pisses me off. Because they're upsetting the balance - in favour of a worse situation. Where you do get cut up, just for cycling, not because you actually did something.

Jumping reds is the Number 1 frustrating thing for vehicle drivers to watch. They hate it, with a vengeance, almost to a person. It's bad news, and it creates a real tension. The win for the cyclist is empty - they gain 2 seconds.

So a couple of months back, this guy cuts me up in the middle of town, and I go down over the bars onto my head, very very hard, and crunched every vertebra in my spine. That cancelled my Bali surf trip - concussion, bad back, luckily no busts. The first thing he says - "that wasn't my fault". He was big, hostile, and difficult, right up until I had the luck to have a witness step forward. The point is - he immediately put up a front that it was my fault, because I was cycling, and "cyclists are arseholes".

I wasn't surprised. That general attitude is developing and generating here in London - because the cyclists aren't reigning in the dicks. The bad apples are spoiling the barrel.


#16

If you are ever in SF drop me a line. We will go cycling together my friend. I like your attitude. I'll loan you a bike.


#17

Let's apply the "screw the asshole cyclists" logic to driving, shall we?

"That driver was speeding, therefore if they get shot afterwards, well, they deserve it."
"That driver blew that stop sign, therefore if someone carjacks their car after, the cops shouldn't do anything."
"That driver was driving drunk, therefore they have no rights when being pulled over, and the cops can abuse them."

Sound about right? Didn't think so.

BTW, last week I was lectured by an Audi driver with a rosary hanging from his rear view mirror on not coming to a complete stop while biking through a residential area. Then he passed me and proceeded to roll every stop sign in front of me.

It's "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", not "do as others do unto you", Christian folks. It's hard to take the moral high ground from a position of hypocrisy, but it seems to be the norm.


#18

Funny, police complaining about scofflaw bicyclists not realizing they're propagating the bad impression of ineffectual/corrupt cops. Yeah, there are always some bad apples, but you can choose not to be one.


#19

I extend the same invitation to you here in London.

Just be careful of DHL vans, Post Office vehicles, DumpTrucks, super expensive lycra (mid-town?! c'mon), Ambulances, Fire Trucks, and yes - Fuzz Wheels - although here they are pretty good with cyclists.

Lance Armstrong, damn him and his lies, wrote up one near-miss he had in "It's Not About the Bike" (the clue was in the title - it wasn't), and he, or his ghost writer, wrapped up the section with the sentence which went roughly "remember - we don't own the road, we just borrow it".


#20

Do you have any idea how many times cyclists have run over my car?