A police crackdown on bicyclists this summer has inspired new legislation that would legalize the rolling stops many cyclists already use at stop signs so long as they yield to pedestrians and vehicles with the right of way.
Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the legislation with the backing of supervisors London Breed, Scott Wiener, David Campos, Jane Kim, and Eric Mar, said today that it would still allow police to cite bicyclists who behave dangerously. Similar laws exist in Idaho, but San Francisco would be the first major U.S. city to make the rolling stops legal.
The Bike Yield Law was inspired by an outcry over police enforcement efforts against bicyclists this summer.
Police at San Francisco’s Park Station, which covers the popular bicycling route known as “The Wiggle” connecting Market Street to Golden Gate Park, began targeting bicyclists who failed to come to a complete stop at stop signs.
Park Station Capt. John Sanford said at the time that the enforcement effort was intended to educate cyclists on the “inherent dangers of rolling through red lights and stop signs without stopping, as well as yielding the right of way to pedestrians at crosswalks.”
The citations prompted outrage among cyclists, however, who argued that bicyclists can safely judge when to roll through stop signs and police should be focusing on violations by motorists, which are statistically far more likely to result in injury. They staged at least two “wiggle stop-in” protests in July and August, waiting their turns at all stop signs on the route and significantly tying up traffic in the area.
Breed, whose district includes a large part of The Wiggle, said the crackdown upset her and others.
“We have a lot of dangerous intersections that need enforcement and that’s where our police resources should be concentrated,” she said today.
The legislation also includes language making it clear that enforcement on bicyclists rolling through stops should be the lowest priority for police.
Noah Budnick, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said the coalition had joined the push for the new legislation in response to calls for change from its members.
“This has been an amazing grassroots development for us,” Budnick said, calling the changes “long overdue” and “common sense.”
“We heard from our 10,000 members that San Francisco needs to do better,” Budnick said.
Avalos said he and other supervisors have consulted with police but have not yet had a response on the proposal. The legislation, introduced to the Board of Supervisors today, is expected to be heard in committee in late October to early November and the full board some time in November, Avalos said.
Sara Gaiser, Bay City News