Ticketing cyclists sucks



Because there’s NOTHING BETTER TO DO in the Mission at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday, I got pulled over by a cop for rolling through a stop sign at 17th and Harrison. Yeah, happy Bike to Work Week to you, too.

Two other cyclists blew through the intersection at the same time, but the cops picked on me, with a $166.96 fine for violating vehicle code 22450(a). Why? Because I was “the closest to getting hit,” Officer McBride told me.

At this point I just had to mention that the only time I’ve ever been struck by a vehicle it was by a cop on a motorcycle who failed to use his blinker before he plowed me down in a crosswalk.

But Officer McBride didn’t feel like chatting about that, so I asked him and his partner, whose name I didn’t catch, how many cyclists they’d pulled over that morning. I was the second. I asked how often they did stings on cyclists and McBride’s partner said they never did that.

He quickly corrected himself, adding, “to my knowledge.” (Is this true? I’ve never seen a bike trap, but I’ve heard rumors about the Wiggle. Anyone out there have some deets on that?)

I also asked about their protocol for Critical Mass, when thousands of bikers just flow through the lights and stop signs. They both said they didn’t work Critical Mass, so they don’t know how or why the law is magically suspended then.

But it wasn’t magically suspended for me, and I’m pissed. In effect, I’ve been punished for riding my bike.

I decided to forsake the car, the bus, the ferry, and opt for the only real emissions-free transportation, and I did if for the good of my health, my sanity, the planet, and all y’all who share it with me. I’m so committed to the bike I got up an hour early to ride all the way to Sausalito for a meeting, and I got in trouble for it.

Cars have had top billing on the roads for far too long and the laws should be changed to favor cyclists. We should adopt Idaho’s model, where cyclists treat stop signs as yields, stoplights like stop signs, and cars exercise caution around them. As Rachael Daigle pointed out in this week’s SFBG, “drivers should concede that bicycles are different from cars and should therefore be subject to different laws.”

Let’s face it – people on bikes are always going to slide through lights. To try and stop it is just another ceaseless battle between laws and human nature. It’s like trying to ban gay marriage. It doesn’t work and San Francisco should not abide.

Cycling enthusiasts and activists should get on the lawmakers to change California’s vehicle code. I’m in. Who’s with me?