Tuesday, December 8, 2015

San Francisco Bike Yield Law - Committee Hearing

For those of you not aware of this whole "Bike Yield Law" thing - it is a proposed ordinance by Supe Avalos that would set a policy advisory for the SFPD to have bikes rolling stop signs be a low priority enforcement activity.

It does not make rolling a stop sign legal. And it does not make enforcing someone buzzing a pedestrian a low priority enforcement. This is in response to the stings in the wiggle, if you see the Stanley Robert's videos all the cyclists getting pulled over are rolling a red in a completely empty intersection. In theory, the SFPD could still run a sting there and claim they were following the spirit of the policy advisory by solely ticketing cyclists who do not yield.

How the sausage gets made. The ordinance starts in committee - in this case land use and transportation. That's a 3 member committee that can block legislation from getting to the whole Board, even if the board would vote 8-3 for it. That's why the Board President is so powerful, the president assigns people to committee. This committee is Wiener/Kim/Cohen. If it passes committee, it goes to the full board, they vote, then they have to re-vote (usually a formality), then it goes to the Mayor for signature to make it law. If the Mayor vetoes the legislation, the Board can override his veto if they can get 8 votes to override.

I watched most of it yesterday. Avalos is the lead sponsor so he ran the show. Wiener and Kim gave statements for it, as did London Breed who showed up to give the statement. Campos and Mar are also sponsors of this legislation - 6 sponsors.

The hearing was very amusing. The SFPD showed up with a spokesman. He gave all these sturm and drang statistics about crazy cyclists. He stated that 30 percent of stop sign collisions were the fault of cyclists. Supervisor Wiener called him out - "You stated that 30% of collisions at stop signs are the fault of cyclists. Is that 30% of all collisions at stop signs, or just 30% of collisions that involve a cyclist, because my understanding is that collisions involving a cyclist at a stop sign are a minuscule component of overall collisions". The cop stammered and said "I see what you are saying" and "I don't have that information". There was another very badly misleading set of stats delivered as well. Greg Suhr deliberately crafted a misleading statement from the SFPD - fortunately Wiener slayed him. Wiener also said "I support cycling, but I don't ride a bike. I have a neighbor who loans me a bike when I need one, which is basically for bike to work day. I ride MUNI. And I know that people riding bikes is really good for MUNI"

Breed on the other hand gave a statement like "Enforcement on cyclists is unfair". I don't think that's very good framing. This isn't about fairness, this is about safety. The cops sitting in the wiggle eating donuts instead of focusing on real dangers, reduces safety.

Bruce Oka, a disability advocate who used to be on the SFMTA board said "this policy is trying to expand the ranks of the disabled". That's why I dislike Breed's framing.

If Oka's premise that enforcement improves cyclists behavior is correct, then we can deduce that enforcement will also improve motorist behavior. So whose behavior do we need to improve? The statistics on injury collision show us - it's the motorists who need to behave better. Let's say enforcement doubled compliance. Doubling cyclist induced injuries/fatalities would be worth it if we also cut in half the motorist induced injuries/fatalities which swamp the cyclist incidents.

Mayor Lee has gone on record that he will veto this. We would need two more votes. Yee has come out against this, which is bad news. My best guess to get 2 more is Peskin and ??? My best guess would be we don't get Farrell and Tang, so we need Cohen but....

The bike yield passed the planning and trandportation committee 2-1, with Malia Cohen VOTING AGAINST. If you live in Cohen's district, let her know you support this law, we'll have to persuade her to override Ed Lee's threatened veto. Ditto for any other supervisor.