When the SFPD officer looked at our thorny bramble of bike parts, and asked us, ‘Is this stuff all connected?’ We just laughed, the U-bolts rising with our chests as we laid there like a human dam choking off the flow of sauce from BP to its loyally dissociated customers.
This quote is just an excerpt of one protestor’s“raw testimony” published yesterday from her day and a half in San Francisco County Jail after she and four other persons were arrested last Friday for chaining themselves to bicycles and blocking the entrance to the Divisadero and Fell St ARCO gas station in the name of cyclist safety and anti-British Petroleum sentiments.
SFPD spokesperson Lieutenant Lyn Tomioka confirmed that five people were arrested at the protest on Friday, August 20, four of whom were booked at county jail for failing to obey a traffic officer and later released and one who was cited for an infraction and released. Out of the four protestors who were booked, three are male and one is female (the afore-quoted woman with the anti-establishment attitude). All are Bay Area residents except one of the men, who is from Seattle.
According to the blog Haighteration, two of those arrested are members of Fix Fell, an organization which refers to itself as “a group of people alarmed about the catastrophe in the Gulf, and disturbed by the City of San Francisco’s impotence when it comes to making the city safe for those who get around by bicycle or foot.”
Although Fix Fell has been protesting outside the ARCO station every Friday since June to condemn the BP oil spill, their mission has morphed into educating San Franciscans about the dangers that motorists who frequent the Fell St. ARCO pose to bicyclists who use the bike lane that runs alongside the gas station.
Cyclists have long complained that drivers cut through the bike lane to pull into the ARCO station, presenting a bicyclist versus motorist scenario that can leave bikers bruised and banged up–or worse, in the case of the German tourist who was recently killed at the nearby intersection of Masonic and Turk.
The hit-and-run death, which happened when 21-year-old cyclist Neils Yannick Linke was hit from behind by a drunk driver, has only intensified the outcry from Fix Fell and other community organizations calling for safer streets for bikers and is believed to have added fuel to the fire leading up to the ARCO station protest. Lieutenant Tomioka said she cannot say for certain whether or not the protest was influenced by Linke’s death, however.
The San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority (SFMTA) recently painted the bike lane on Fell between Scott and Baker streets green with hopes of appeasing Fix Fell and other bicyclist activism groups and making it easier for cars and bikers to coexist on San Francisco’s busy streets. While the efforts are welcomed by bicyclists, the city could be doing much more, protest organizer Stuart Matthews told Bay City News.
“We’re happy that the city is apparently paying attention to our protests and trying something, but hopefully they’ll make it even better,” Matthews said.