Monday, September 26, 2011

SF Cop Tickets 
A Mercedes on Market Street

Over the past few months, many bikers and biking advocates have bemoaned the San Francisco police department's much-needed stepped up enforcement of traffic and safety laws on Market Street that apply to bikers, giving out a high number of pricey tickets to violators.

The general complaint is that the police are engaging in selective enforcement targeting unsafe bicyclists, while allegedly looking the other way as automobile drivers break other traffic statutes on the busy boulevard.

If you believe the biking advocates who generally portray the biker as virtuous or angelic saving the planet by peddling, while the car driver is painted as selfish and an evil user of fossil fuels destroying the world, the cops have given the latter a free ride. Pardon the expression.

Yet today, at about 4:50 PM, I witnessed a motorcycle cop chasing an errant driver in a sleek new white Mercedes-Benz, for driving in the bus and taxi lane from Market and 11th down to 8th Street. Talk about how to piss off an officer of the law who already has at least one ticket to give a bad driver!

Was the episode one of selective enforcement against a driver behind the wheel of a large automobile, and probably not living in a shotgun shack? Nah, not since the Mercedes-Benz was operating quite nicely and wrongly in the dedicated public transit lane.

My two cents, as a slow biker frequently on Market Street, is that there's enhanced enforcement and police presence at key intersections, at high-volume traffic times, and they're on the lookout for either cars or bikes engaging in moving violations.

Knowing this provides me with more reasons to stick my biking rules: stay to the right, stop at red lights regardless of traffic or pedestrians, use hand signals and avoid the bikers barreling down crowded sidewalks and breezing through red lights.

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