Anti-cyclist bias must stop


EDITORIAL The streets of San Francisco can be dangerous enough for their most vulnerable users — pedestrians and bicyclists — without the aggressive, insensitive, and judgmental attitudes that have recently been expressed toward those who choose to get around this city by bike.

The Guardian's Politics blog exploded with caustic comments last week after a pair of reports related to the death of bicyclist Amelie Le Moullac. Among the worst of these blame-the-victim attitudes was expressed by SFPD Sgt. Richard Ernst, who showed up Aug. 21 at an event at the site where Le Moullac died to lecture those mourning her death and make a series of unfounded, irrelevant, and thoughtless accusations (for details, see "Shit Happened").

These attitudes have no place in a civilized debate over how we share the roadways of this city, and they are particularly reprehensible coming from someone in a position of public trust and authority, validating the dangerous view that violence is an acceptable response to bicyclists who don't obey traffic laws to the letter.

Compounding the anti-cyclist bias of the SFPD and other police agencies — which routinely fail to cite motorists even when their inattention or negligence results in the loss of life — is the revelation that SFPD misrepresented its efforts to seek video surveillance of the collision, which activists easily found from a neighboring business.

We call on the SFPD to fully investigate Le Moullac's death, two similar cyclist fatalities earlier this year, and the actions of Ernst, who clearly abused his authority and misrepresented the results of an open investigation in order to make political points against a class of road users that he doesn't like or understand, needlessly creating a safety hazard in the process. Perhaps temporary reassignment to bike patrol would give Ernst a clearer perspective on the entire community that he's supposed to be protecting and serving.

The city should also do a public outreach campaign to improve the awareness and safety of all road users, particularly targeting commercial truck drivers, who have now fatally run over three bicyclists this year. The weight and poor driver visibility of these vehicles make them particularly dangerous, and they must drive them in a cautious and predictable manner. The city should also have clearer road markings to encourage safe merging at problematic intersections like Folsom and Sixth streets.

We all need to learn to safely share this city's roadways, which starts with simply slowing down and paying attention. To focus exclusively on the behavior of cyclists is like blaming a rape victim for wearing a short skirt. Those with the most power to kill or maim need to be held accountable when they blow through red lights or drive unpredictably, and that should be a higher priority for the SFPD than to piously lecture those mourning a tragic death.


Paying attention is superior to a general slowing down of traffic.

In some cases motorists do need to slow down; like when approaching intersections, or pedestrian and bike areas. When they are about to run down and kill people, they need to do even more than just slow.

Other times it creates no danger if motorists travel at speed for the sake of expeditious travel.

This horrible loss for the young woman's friends and family can best be turned around to benefit the quality of life in and around the city in revealing education and enforcement opportunities; certainly the degree to which it has shed light on the problem within SF's police agency is important.

(Yes, the idea of putting Ernst on bike patrol is excellent!)

On the other hand, I think animosity between bicyclists and motorists is also part of the problem. Bicycling boosters should avoid actions either on the roadway, or
legislatively, to increase the animosity and frustration.

ps -- the "short skirt" riff seems just a bit wrong somehow.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 3:33 am

use the road? share in its cost, follow its rules or use a bus.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 12:30 am

You can than Critical Mass for the lack of love shown to bike riders in this town. Even if they aren't as beligerant as they used to be doesn't really matter anymore. So while Critical Mass may indirectly have led to infrastructure improvements (partial closure of Market, more bike lanes), this is also part of the result. Get over it.
However, more importantly - more definitive rules need to be established and communicated over how to approach right turns when there is a bike lane on the right. I always assume a car will turn right, and I will slow and yield, but quite often I see others who continue through an intersection assuming they have the right of way, even though a car has already entered the intersection before them, and is signaling to turn (which is not always the case). Confusion over rights-of-way is very dangerous.

Posted by Richmondman on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 8:50 am

undermines any sympathy for cyclists in general.

Posted by anon on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 9:50 am

FYI: Cyclists don't want or need sympathy, cyclists need the common courtesy that one driver gives another -- whether that other driver does the right thing on the road or not. Since the legal standard is "same rights and duties on the road as a motor vehicle" before anything else is specified, there's no need for sympathy or special treatment, and no excuse for not doing the right and legal thing -- give a cyclist his/her space.

After all, that right to the road isn't YOURS to give or take from them.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

Critical Mass.

If you want respect, then earn it by respecting others.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 3:32 pm

If commuters as a community didn't have such a longstanding trend of disrespectctful actions toward bikers, I might be inclined to agree with you a little more.

That being said, the level of cow-herd majority opinion defending the status quo on this website is becoming downright laughable. If your only response to a protest movement that's trying to make the road accessible to a group of people who lessen traffic and emissions is 'Waaaah--you're inconveniencing me with your social progress,' then you probably shouldn't be talking about things like respect or common courtesy--you people obviously have little sympathy for people who are not exactly like you to begin with.

But guess what! This is 'Merica! Which means that, yes, you are all entitled to your myopic, self-serving opinions about what's good and proper in society, but it also means that those of us with a little more imagination get to try our hand at making things a little better for *everyone* despite people like you.


Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 10:18 am

of making your point. I'd argue it turns voters against cyclists. You cannot bully people into supporting you, and such behaviors just show you to be selfish and angry - not qualities that most people approve of.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2013 @ 10:34 am


Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

Without Critical Mass, things would be far worse.

You are just annoyed that those uppity cyclists went out and protested the treatment they were being afforded, and the City responded.

And every time we start to think Critical Mass has really jumped the shark and things are better, the SFPD goes out and butchers a case.

Posted by John Murphy on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 8:53 am

You cannot disrespect city residents and then appeal for their help and sympathy when something goes wrong.

Posted by anon on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 9:20 am

I rode in this town before Critical Mass it was far, far worse then. I was routinely honked at, flipped off and run off the road. I even had someone through a beer can at me once (!) on Market Street. For the crime of cycling down the street.

So Critical Mass did serve a useful purpose, though I personally think that time is past. Given the horrific behavior that automobile drivers engage in every day of the week, I can't get too worked up over a few yahoos on bicycles once a month.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Sep. 02, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

And screw everyone else.

Soooo San Francisco.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 02, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

Spot on GlenParkDaddy. I second your post word for word - except for when you mentioned 'a few yahoos.' I'm trying to be nicer these days by not calling other people names.

Posted by Bustin on Sep. 06, 2013 @ 2:09 pm

when self-servingly stereotyping those with whom you disagree.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 06, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

+1 GPD well put.

A few of any group are yahoos, that's the way that the distributions fall.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 11:16 pm

to be more than just "a few" miscreants. In fact it is the experience of many people that law-breaking by cyclists is frequent, even routine. Moreover, some cyclists seek to rationalize this by claiming that the rules should not apply to them anyway.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 7:33 am

You could not have said it better. I hate to say it but I'm one of the anti cyclist folks. While I'd never wish any ill will on anyone they're really bringing on themselves. I regularly see these people disobeying traffic laws and arrogantly riding in the middle of the road. Many of them do not wear helmets and frankly, they pay no direct tax revenue to the city to fund the bike lanes, markings or anything else they consistently whine for. It would really be interesting to actually find out how many bicycles are ACTUALLY licensed in the city.

When cyclists begin growing up and behaving like something other that a bunch of whiney, self-entitled non contributors they'll have my respect. Until then all bets are off.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:11 pm

Motorists break the law as often as bicyclists do. Most motorists break the speed limit virtually every time they get behind the wheel. In addition to near incessant speeding, motorists routinely text and talk on their phones, make illegal turns, run lights, roll through stop signs, change lanes and turn without signaling, double park, drive or park illegally in bike lanes, etc. etc. etc.

Motorists have owned the roads for so long and their law-breaking is so routine that it just seems normal. And while law-breaking is law-breaking and two wrongs don't make a right, it's simply a fact that motorists do virtually all the killing--of pedestrians, cyclists, and other motorists --year after year, on SF's streets.

Many motorists love to complain about the law-breaking of cyclists, but most of those motorists are blatant hypocrites.

Posted by EsEffOh on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 11:18 am

That's why laws are written with law breaking in mind.

No CHP officer is going to pull you over for doing 72mph in a 65 zone.

No SFPD officer is going to pull you over for rolling through a stop a little bit -- unless there are pedestrians or other road drivers present who you may have endangered by doing so. (Except of course in the case where the officer has a hair up his ass for you; doesn't like your looks; etc. -- minor quibble)

As for parking in bike lanes, there are times when there simply isn't any other choice, but I'd say those are in minority; as, perhaps, are the motorists who do so on a regular basis for trivial reasons -- like Ernst.

Contrary to popular misconception, there is no law mandating use of turn signals. There is a law mandating signaling devices on cars, and there is law mandating safe maneuvers. Sometimes circumstances do not require the use of signals for safety, and in such cases they need not be used: just like you have to have a horn, but you don't have to honk every time someone is a bit slow getting to a start in front of you.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 11:52 am

to do so all the time.

And yes, cops generally give you 10%-20% over the speed limit. Bucchere's problem was bragging on the internet about speeding and that was taken into account when he manslaughtered a pedestrian on his bike. But even then, all he got was probation.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 28, 2013 @ 12:03 pm

Sometimes no signal is required.

Then again, because of its concentration bicyclists, San Francisco might be a place where all motor vehicles *should* be required to use signals.

No doubt -- just as with the "Idaho Stop" law -- San Francisco County can't pass its own local traffic rule that requires it, but the city's cops could simply acquire for themselves a reputation for warning and then ticketing drivers who fail to use signals appropriate for the traffic around them.

I'm thinking particularly of drivers manuevering around bicycle and pedestrian traffic.

Because bicyclists are generally hard to see, it might be considered an unsafe maneuver *any* time a turn is made in the city without signaling.

Bicyclists are a different subject.

While situations with multiple vehicles or other bicyclists and pedestrians provide occasions where signals from the bicyclists are useful -- and they should be probably be universally known and used to a greater degree than they currently are -- in most cases, the "body language" of bicyclist is sufficient.

Also, safety sometimes requires both hands on the bike. That might be due to pavement conditions, or it might simply might be driven by the cyclists' need to maintain their meager capacity to propel themselves out of a dangerous situation. Bicyclists are already subject to the mercy of motorists when they reduce speeds as they must do at intersections.

I'm not making the argument that bicyclists shouldn't signal, but only pointing out that it is much more viscerally in the bicyclists interests to do so when necessity or safety dictates, because it is always them who get the worst of collisions.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 2:18 pm
Posted by anon on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 3:15 pm

proportionate enforcement means all the enforcement should be on truck drivers.

Also, while most bicyclists signal self-defensively because they know a minor accident for them will easily result in a hospital visit, generally speaking they have many "perfect necessity" defenses at hand for such signal violations: uneven pavement, etc.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

Not saying that a failure to give a signal was material in either case but clearly those cyclists showed a similar disregard for the law.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2013 @ 1:55 am

California Vehicle Code Section 22107: Turning Movements and Required Signals.
No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such a movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 2:48 pm
Posted by anon on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

Thanks for quoting the law, Guest. CVC 22107 may not be evenly and fairly enforced, but it clearly says that turn signals are not always required.

Or -- as I was able to find with a quick StartPage search after you provided the code in question:

"You Don’t Need To Signal When Other Vehicles Aren’t Around VC 22107
Posted on May 30, 2012 by Hans J Corteza Esq • 0 Comments

We’ve all been told to use the appropriate signal when making a turn or changing lanes. Signaling always seemed to be absolute. However maybe from apathy, laziness, or a desire to throw a middle finger to the law, we refused to make that signal at one point in our lives. Specifically, you might have been cited for violating California Vehicle Code Section 22107. Nonetheless, just because you didn’t sign doesn’t mean you’re guilty. Section 22107 states,

“No person shall turn a vehicle from a direct course or move right or left upon a roadway until such movement can be made with reasonable safety and then only after the giving of an appropriate signal in the manner provided in this chapter in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement. “

A prerequisite to this code is there must be a vehicle that can be affected by your driving. What does “in the event any other vehicle may be affected” mean? According to the California Court of Appeal, a driver does not have to signal when the only other vehicle on the road is 55 feet away heading in the opposite direction and the driver is turning away from the approaching vehicle.[1]

You might be wondering why the court of appeal spent time on an infraction which at most subjects you to a fine and a point on your driving record. It’s not because the defendants were ineligible for traffic school. They were busted for having meth inside their SUV. Since the court held section 22107 was not violated, evidence of the contraband was suppressed. Overall, signaling for a turn depends on the circumstances, most notably the vicinity of other vehicles. (Vehicles also include bicycles.) Of course, you can always be safe by letting others know where you’re going or not having meth in your ride. However in the event you are pulled over, remembering traffic conditions wouldn’t hurt.

If you’re seeking legal advice, feel free to contact me here at the Law Offices of Mark A. Gallagher: (800) 797-8406 or email:

[1] See People v. Carmona, G043846."

And here's a bike rider's opinion:

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

who hit Amelie was under no obligation to indicate. Amelie should have figured it out for herself. But she didn't. How can we educate these people?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 5:58 pm

whether there is a bicyclist or not. They should signal whether they see that there is a bicyclist or not.

What I am saying is that when the difference in danger posed by trucks and cars to bicyclists is factored in -- and the likelihood for the presence of bicyclists to be unnoticed by the drivers of larger vehicles -- then CVC22107 is not strict enough with regard to the use of turn signals.

What I am advocating is that increased police enforcement and other public education measures take place to cause truck drivers to signal all of the time.

Only a troll or a pissant would miss my point.

Posted by lillipublicans on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 6:14 pm
Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 6:36 pm

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You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not
that I actually would want to…HaHa). You definitely put
a fresh spin on a topic which has been discussed for decades.
Excellent stuff, just great!

Posted by on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 1:11 am

I took a poll at my street corner one afternoon the results were:

(polling the first 30 cars and 30 bikes through)


100% of cars slowed down to at least nearly a complete stop
87% of the cars completely stopped at the stop sign (the 13% rolling stops should be ticketed)
73% of the cars followed the law to yield to peds in the crosswalks


13% of bikes came to complete stop at the stop sign
53% of bikes did not EVEN SLOW DOWN ANY at the stop sign
23% of the bikes followed the law to yield to peds in the crosswalks

Yes, indeed, both cars and bikes break the law. But it ain't "even" out there as the bikers claim. SFPD needs to enforce the laws out there on ALL - cars, peds and bikes. Failing to do so is creating a dangerous situation.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

that's quite a biased poll you conducted there. using the single incident of "rolling through stop signs" to generalize about the overall lawfulness of motorists vs. cyclists. why don't you take a second poll and see what percentage of cyclists go over the posted speed limits vs. drivers. sure, that would obviously be ridiculous, but would it be any more ridiculous than the poll you decided to do?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

Bikes appear to have less respect to the rules of the road, thinking that they should not apply to them.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 3:19 pm

My experience is that 100% of car drivers speed. Isn't that yours? Go drive 25 MPH down Folsom in SOMA and tell me how many cars pass you vs. how many you pass.

I did this experiment and 100% of all vehicles were going faster than me.

Car drivers never obey the law, they all speed. I know I usually speed when I am in a car. Don't you?

Posted by Guest on Aug. 29, 2013 @ 11:00 pm

what might be posted on some sign.

At 3am on Folsom, 25 is too slow. At 9am, it is too fast.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2013 @ 2:00 am
Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2013 @ 7:42 am

go a little faster than the limit. The cops will generally let it go as well unless it is well over the limit, like 40 or more.

Cyclists do the exact same thing of course but, in their case, they do not believe the law applies to them at all.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2013 @ 8:12 am

What a moronic statement. Of course I believe that the law applies to me. If I roll through a stop sign and get a ticket I pay it. I am just like you, I apply the law judiciously.

Except if your case you claim that I don't deserve any respect until I and every other cyclist is 100% law abiding, while you demand respect as a matter of course.

This is the very definition of privilege.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2013 @ 6:18 pm

that the road traffic laws exist for cars and do not appropriately apply to bikes. That's real entitlement and privilege.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2013 @ 6:37 pm

No one says that except the voices in your head.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 02, 2013 @ 4:05 pm

Not shocking that you don't believe it tho.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 02, 2013 @ 4:56 pm

No I don't usually speed when I drive. I sometimes do but I usually do not.

I'm in favor of enforcing all traffic laws all the time, however. Bikers are not. Bikers actually believe that traffic laws should not apply to them. The voice that opinion all the time (i.e., they say laws should be changed to say stop signs N/A to bikes).

Posted by Guest on Aug. 30, 2013 @ 11:09 am

And bicyclists regularly cross lanes without signaling other drivers, they don't wear helmets, they ride on sidewalks, they don't watch or for pedestrians, they don't carry insurance and they dont' pay ANY DIRECT TAX REVENUE towards maintaining roads let alone paying for the bike lanes they so desperately want.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 6:16 pm


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Posted by norbert on Apr. 17, 2014 @ 12:41 pm

No, mororists do not and they can't. They're held accountable by the police, tickted and fined AND they carry accident insurance (I can't think of one cyclist that would carry any type of liability insurance). Sorry - you'll lose based on the facts alone.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

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