Bike sting on BTWD


City officials and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition hailed the May 8 Bike to Work Day as a success, with the official SFMTA count finding 76 percent of vehicles along Market Street during the morning commute were bikes. But a pair of motorcycle cops ticketing cyclists that afternoon on the Wiggle put a damper on the celebration.

As we reported in last week's paper ("Cycling to City Hall"), cycling has come to enjoy almost universal support in City Hall, at least in terms of political rhetoric, although the Mayor's Office and SFMTA have committed only a small fraction of the funding needed to meet official city goals for increasing ridership. And the BTWD bike sting on the Wiggle, a key east-west bike corridor in Lower Haight, felt like a slap in the face to the SFBC.

Since another series of police stings targeting cyclists on the Wiggle last fall, SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum has been working closely with the San Francisco Police Department on its goal of focusing traffic enforcement resources on intersections with the most collisions, none of which include the Wiggle (the SFPD's Focus on the Five initiative pledges traffic enforcement resources to the five most dangerous intersections in each police district and the five most dangerous traffic violations).

On May 7, Shahum was even at the Police Commission hearing discussing the issue, and she says that Police Chief Greg Suhr and other top brass in the department have offered their assurances that such arbitrary stings on the Wiggle weren't a good use of SFPD resources.

After recent hearings on how SFPD officers have refused to give citations to motorists who hit cyclists, Suhr and the department have also pledged to do so. But Shahum said she also heard from a cyclist on Bike to Work Day who was the victim of a hit-and-run by an impatient, road-raging motorist on 18th Street, and he told her that police refused to take a report even though he took down the license plate number.

Shahum said she's disheartened by that story and those of the half-dozen cyclists she heard from who were ticketed on the Wiggle for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign on the Wiggle.

"I'm not confident the commitments from the chief and the commission are making it down to the officers. They are still pursuing very outdated traffic enforcement policies," Shahum told us.

Shahum said she spoke to Capt. Greg Corrales, whose Park Station precinct includes the Wiggle, and Cmdr. Mikail Ali, who heads traffic enforcement, and both said they had no knowledge of any enforcement stings on the Wiggle. SFPD spokesperson Albie Esparza told us the officers were there based on citizen complaints about people running stop signs, but that the timing on BTWD wasn't intentional: "It was a random thing they happened to be there that day."(Steven T. Jones)


For months, we've been covering the story of Marcus Books, the nation's oldest continuously operating black-owned, black-themed bookstore located in San Francisco's Fillmore District. Facing eviction from the purple Victorian where the bookstore had operated since 1981, the family that owns it had launched an ambitious fundraising campaign in an effort to remain in place.

Widespread community support for the culturally significant bookstore even led to the Board of Supervisors granting landmark status for the bookstore's Fillmore Street address, on account of "its long-term association with Marcus Books ... and for its association with Jimbo's Bop City, one of the City's most famous, innovative and progressive jazz clubs."

But the bookstore was evicted on May 6. As of May 12, the owners had been locked out and unable to access their books -- but community supporters were vowing to keep the pressure on.