I must confess, I was a bit leery of sharing this video on here, what with the slim chance that some anti-bike nuts will stumble across it and brand me history’s greatest monster for my horrible lawlessness and disregard for human life. But, eh – what’re you gonna do?
Anyhoo, a few weeks ago, I was biking home, eastbound on Market St. and I got pulled over by an SFPD officer. My crime? Stopping for a red light at 10th and Market – but doing so after the intersection’s limit line.
Oh, and while you watch, please keep your eye out for the MB SUV in the left lane – I’ll have more to say about him later…
Now, let me state for the record: YES, I AM WELL-AWARE THAT WHAT I DID WAS A VIOLATION OF THE MOTOR VEHICLE CODE. I also certainly appreciated that I was let go with a warning and that the officer was generally courteous (though I thought he belabored the rules about the limit line).
But here’s why I have some issues with this incident:
1. This is a particularly poorly designed stretch of road. As cars and bikes pass Van Ness going eastbound, they are forced to cross paths in a way that is confusing and potentially dangerous for the uninitiated. Vehicles must get into the far right lane as bikes must merge from the right into the center bike lane. Once at 10th, the intersection’s limit line is six car-lengths back from 10th St. Thus, while I did in fact go past the limit line, I was not in the path of any vehicular traffic nor did I interact with any pedestrians, since there were none present at any time during this incident. Also, what about the the two cars in the right lane that had passed the limit line? Why weren’t they busted?
2. What happened to that MB SUV? He was in the transit/taxi only lane in the left yet he never passed the waiting SFPD officer east of 10th St. So, besides having already been illegally traveling in the transit lane, he had to have executed an illegal left- or U-turn – or made a right turn from the left lane onto 10th St. cutting across the bike lane – both illegal and dangerous. And given that he must’ve seen the scooter getting pulled over, the MB driver was pretty clearly aware that he was illegally traveling in the transit lane. Of the bikes, the scooter and the MB, the MB’s actions were, in my view, the most serious and included multiple violations – yet he got away scot-free.
3. What about the first biker guy? He just kept going and thus didn’t get a lecture. That’s a pretty lousy lesson – that I’d be better off ignoring a police officer, since he won’t bother to pursue.
4. Finally – and, really, this is far and away my biggest complaint about this incident – this little stakeout on Market St. was on the afternoon of December 14th – the same day as SantaCon. In other words, someone in command at SFPD decided that, despite the presence in the city that day of thousands of open-container-carrying, public-urinating, projectile-vomiting, “Show us your tits!”-screaming, drunken Santas staggering from bar to bar (several of whom can be seen and heard in the background of my video), this was the ideal day to set up a little trap on Market St. to catch bikers who stopped for a red light but a few feet past the limit line. Excellent setting of priorities, SFPD!