This flyer was produced by the SFMTA in coordination with their city partners, to raise public awareness about riding on the sidewalk
This flyer was produced by the SFMTA, in coordination with its city partners, for public outreach on sidewalk riding.

The cyclist on 26th Street careened right into Connie Weber, a retired security guard, and took off.

“I didn’t get the chance to really holler at him or anything, because it just took me by surprise,” said Weber of the incident that took place between Shotwell and South Van Ness.

As San Francisco’s bike culture continues to grow — the number of cyclists increased 58 percent between 2006 and 2010, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency — so have the complaints about bikers riding on sidewalks. Riding on sidewalks is illegal and punishable by a $156 ticket after a rider turns 13-years old.

But during any weekday morning or evening rush it’s easy to see bikers on the sidewalks of Mission Street — one of the worst, according to Weber.

Interviews with pedestrian and cycling groups as well as police make it clear that they’re unlikely to disappear soon. For the most part, the city is relying on law enforcement and a few education programs to get riders off the sidewalks. But easy solutions are hard to come by in modern cities designed for autos and buses.

San Francisco Police Department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield described the city as undergoing a transitional period to make it more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians. The San Francisco Bicycle Plan will increase bike lanes to 79 miles from the current 45, but the new lanes are unlikely to be finished before 2014.

Here in the Mission, Valencia’s lanes were completed in March of 1999, and 17th Street’s will be increased in width, to connect the Castro, Mission and Potrero Hill neighborhoods.

Within the next year, bike lanes will also appear on Cesar Chavez, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Leah Shahum wrote in an e-mail. Shahum is excited about plans to add bike lanes to Folsom Street in the Mission.

There are no plans, however, for a bike lane along Mission Street, and given the street’s high volume of car and bus traffic, plus the fact that Valencia is just a block away, Shahum said that she would be surprised if that idea moved forward.

Cyclists on the sidewalk are primarily motivated by fear — they feel the city streets are too unsafe, said Pi Ra, senior university director from the SoMa-based Senior Action Network, which advocates for pedestrians’ rights.

In 2008, Senior Action Network surveyed 225 members and non-members and found that 10 percent said they had been hit by a bicycle in the two previous years. Ra said a more informal survey of some members last April showed that had not changed.

Accident reports for 2010 from the SFPD’s Traffic Company show 19 bicycle/pedestrian accidents in San Francisco, and 19 as of August of this year. The figures do not include unreported accidents. The city saw two bicycle fatalities in 2010, and two so far this year, according to Dangerfield.

In response to cyclists who say it is okay for them to ride on the sidewalk if they do it safely, Ra compared riding a bike on the sidewalk to driving in bike lanes.

“If you can [cycle on the sidewalk] safely, then I can drive a car in the bike lane if I do it safely.”

When it comes to enforcing bike laws, police officers usually go out in teams, advising and citing bicycles.

“One citation goes a long way,” Dangerfield said. “They’re going to immediately tell their friends they got cited.” The lieutenant believes that as the word spreads it sends the message to a lot of people to be more careful.

Nonetheless, it’s hard to enforce the laws against riding on the sidewalk, Dangerfield said.

“You don’t want to chase someone on a bicycle.”

And when an officer catches an offending cyclist, other problems can ensue.

“As a police officer, what do you think these guys say to the officers?” Dangerfield said. “‘Why aren’t you catching rapists?’ ‘Why aren’t you out getting murderers?’”

Sometimes police officers ride on the sidewalks themselves, as shown in the video above.

This is uncommon, Dangerfield said, but he defended the practice, adding that police officers are specially trained in how to ride on the sidewalk to assist in apprehending suspects. Part of this training involves learning how to control the bike by braking constantly — almost like walking on the bike.

“As someone who’s been through the course myself, I now ride my own bike different as a result,” he said.

Education and advisement are the main methods police use to try to keep cyclists off the sidewalk, Dangerfield said.

The SFPD collaborates with the SF Bicycle Coalition to get the word out about bike safety issues. The coalition holds free classes and hands out safety materials such as the flyer pictured above.

The group’s next bike education class for adults in the Mission is on Oct. 25 at 16th and Dolores.

At a community police meeting last month, Capt. Greg Corrales said that his six motorcycle cops would be more vigilant regarding bicycle violations.

Ra suggested that police target people who know better — the people who commute to and from work — rather than the weekend warriors who tend to bike outside the city.

To do this, he suggested blanketing key bicycle-riding corridors of the city with flyers for a month, then pushing heavy law enforcement from late March through May — traditionally the time people get back on their bicycles at the end of the rainy season.

Walk San Francisco’s executive director, Elizabeth Stampe, wants the city to think bigger than citing offending cyclists, and redesign the streets. She believes that other city streets should be put on Valencia’s “road diet” of wider sidewalks, bike lanes and timed stoplights. According to Stampe, any car or bike that travels on Valencia will hit nothing but green lights — as long as they’re ambling along at 13 mph.

“It makes cars travel at a much safer speed. A more human speed,” Stampe said.

Stampe has yet to observe someone riding on the Valencia sidewalks since its bike and pedestrian-friendly redesign. Of the 771 bicycles counted at 17th and Valencia in the city’s 2010 Bicycle Count Report, 10 –- 1 percent –- rode on the sidewalk.

C.K. Hickey

Christopher was first drawn to the Mission by Clarion Alley’s murals. Compared to his apolitical hometown, the strong political implications of the large murals and street art scene in San Francisco...

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  1. Bike riders in general do not obey traffic laws in this city. That’s why drivers get so pissed at bikers. Bikers certainly have the right to pissed by drivers as well when they are endangered. But until bikers have “driver’s” licenses, are required to go through classes to ride, and are consisting cited the way drivers are, nothing is going to change. Fixies with no free-wheel and no brakes should be outright banned.

    1. When you can speak English correctly, I’ll get a license. The one has nothing to do with the other, see? Having a license won’t make people better cyclists; as I’m sure you know, having a drivers license doesn’t necessarily make people better drivers. What WILL change things? Drivers paying more attention will. You’re moving multi-ton vehicles!! You need to share the road with us.

      1. I agree about paying more attention as drivers, sharing the road, and keeping riders safe. I’m for that. BUUUUTTTTTTT, until bikers stop blowing through red lights while others including cars have the legal right of way, nothing is going to change even with increased driver vigilance. Until riders stop passing the cars in front of them repeatedly at stop lights only to be passed by the cars repeatedly, riders are only to be in danger. Drivers and bikers EACH own a part of the problem.

        1. OK, back to traffic school for you. It is in fact advisable for bikes to pull in front of cars when waiting for the light so as to let right turners on red through. The cyclist can get a head start at the green light and get into the ‘sharrow zone’ if there isn’t actually a bike lane.

          And, well, given that no one ever observes the speed limit in this town, cyclists are pretty much ‘passed by the cars repeatedly’ no matter what they do.

          1. As a pedestrian who has been nearly plowed into innumerable times by cyclists, I’m a little tired of the aggrieved and petulant cyclist attitude. I don’t think a whinier subset of San Francisco exists.

            The sidewalk is for walking (hence the term sideWALK).

            Cyclists ignore every traffic law that exists. They don’t yield to pedestrians, they don’t obey stop signs, they don’t signal, they don’t stop at the scene of an accident they created, they don’t follow the right of way. Statistic after statistic shows that in the vast majority of bike/car and bike/pedestrian collisions the cyclist is at fault.

            Funny the SF Bike Coalition never talks about that one.

            So how about this? Maybe a group of us pedestrians should prevent Critical Mass. Would you like that?

      2. I’m a bike commuter, bike racer, recreational biker, and let me tell you, YOUR attitude is the problem. There are MANY more bikers riding unsafely on the sidewalk or riding against traffic or running through stop-signs and lights then there are unsafe drivers who are recklessly careening into bikers.

        Yes, the impact of a car can be fatal for a bicyclist. BUT that has nothing to do with the danger posed by bikers riding on sidewalks. Acting like a victim of cars only furthers the sense of entitlement that you so obviously display. You don’t have a right to ride on the sidewalks. They’re congested and its dangerous and frightening for pedestrians.

  2. Let’s pass a law allowing pedestrians to hit bike riders when they’re riding on the sidewalk. Much easier and quicker than citing them.

    1. Can we make a law that cyclists can smash a cars hood with their u-lock when they park in the bike lanes? Much quicker and easier than informing them that the bike lane is for BIKES and not parking/waiting.

  3. Comparing a car driving on a sidewalk to a bike on a sidewalk is like comparing a car on the freeway to a bike on the freeway. The comparison is inane.

    Bike riders are a political force and you rile us at your risk. The next enforcement crackdown that targets bikes without targeting jaywalking pedestrians or cars turning without turn signals will be met with credible attempts to completely shut down major traffic arteries to cars, starting with Market Street.

    1. If you want the rights of automobiles (full use of lane), then you play by the rules of automobiles (signal, don’t ride on the sidewalk, stop at red lights, etc.).

    2. Annie, you say, “Bike riders are a political force and you rile us at your risk.” That sounds like a threat.
      Here’s one back at you, and your cyclist pals: Run me down while I’m legally crossing the street (while you’re running the STOP sign or ignoring the RED light), or run into me while I’m walking down the sidewalk, do so at YOUR OWN RISK. I will PUSH YOU OVER.

      Listen (no, PLEASE LISTEN), I’m not looking for a war (tho, it seems many are, including you, Annie). But it’s being made more and more clear that A) Cyclists are going to contine to do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want AND B) The police are going to contine to do very little about it.
      If this IS the case, run into me, get tire tracks on my up-until-then-clean work pants, DO SO AT YOUR OWN RISK. I accept your challenge. Let’s see how well you handle having your rear tire kicked out from underneath you.
      Oh… and you are NOT a “Political force.” You’re a bunch of whiny people who don’t want to play friendly with others and have a bloated sense of entitlement. Really? No worse than those in Big Business that people are now anyry about. No different at all.
      It’s YOUR WAY or else.

      1. Um, you might want to read about this group called the ‘San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.’ It functions both as a non-profit advocacy organization and a political action committee that does, in fact, help enact street-design policy.

        So hopefully that’s plain enough English for you to understand that there is in fact a ‘political force’ behind many of us who ride a bicycle.

        1. So that prevents you from being courteous? Congrats you have a political action committee. Maybe a cyclist could be in a PAC and not be a jerk. Just a thought…

    3. This kind of post is why most people in SF think bicyclists are a bunch of self-entitled pricks. You think this kind of thing helps your cause? You’re deeply mistaken.

    4. Annie, this post sucks, and I’m saying that as a card-carrying member of the SFBC. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously? “Don’t call me out for breaking the law or I’ll vaguely threaten a protest?”

      You are literally defending a practice that’s illegal and actually a terrible safety risk for cyclists particularly with regard to driveways and intersections. Even if you don’t care about pedestrians, there are plenty of reasons that it’s a terrible idea as a cyclist.

    5. Comparing cars to bikes blah blah blah……tell that the elderly lady pedestrian who was KILLED by a biker running a red light….

    6. Grow-up Annie. You are a danger to pedestrians when you ride on the sidewalk. Its as simple as that. If you want to run around with your air of superiority go right ahead. But you have 0% change of stopping law enforcement from enforcing traffic laws. 0!!! You have no power at all in this regard. Try running through stop-lights on Market Street this week during rush-hour. See how far your political power goes when you get smacked with a $225 ticket for running a red light.

      Make no mistake, you are part of the problem. Imagine if this whole city adopted your attitude. Please move back to wherever you came. We really don’t need more of your immature and entitled antics in this town.

      FYI – I’m a bike commuter and the enforcement crakdown is happening every day during rush hour. I’ve seen dozens of bikers pulled over. So good luck with your asserting your power you pompous ass.

  4. Hey C.K., nice article. But pls check the spelling in the headline. Peddle is to sell stuff. Pedal is what you do on a bike.

  5. 1) Many bike riders don’t know that it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk. Solution: education. Put up signs at bike shops and anywhere there’s a bike rack at a business (indicating a lot of bike riders in that area) that inform people A) that riding on the sidewalk is illegal; B) that it is dangerous, and C) what the fine is.

    2) Some bike riders don’t worry about breaking the law because there’s no way to force them to pay fines. They brag on bike forums about how they claim they have no ID with them and then give a false name and address. Solution: Pass a law that says that if a bike rider is stopped for a traffic infraction and doesn’t produce a legal ID the police must impound the bike until either ID is produced, the fine is paid, or the charge dismissed in court. If they suddenly “remember” that they have ID on them when the police start to impound their bike, then their prior claim that they didn’t have any ID on them was lying to the police, add that to the citation.

    1. 1. Agreed….my point about having a bike license is that it is proof of having gone through bike education. The license itself doesn’t do anything friendly biker, the education hopefully will.

    2. Sounds like a very sensible approach to me. Of course, this being San Francisco means nothing will happen about it.

  6. Unless you’re a small child wobbling around on little white tires, stay off the sidewalk. I’ve been bike commuting for decades (literally) and never found a need to ride on the sidewalk. That said – most of the people I’ve seen riding on the sidewalk appear to be newbies who are scared of auto traffic. They should get a warning first. Tickets for the other stuff – flying through pedestrian crosswalks (like I see everyday on Fulton St. by Alamo Square), red lights, etc – are richly deserved.

  7. Pedestrians: Please share the sidewalks with bikers. We were here first. Thanks for gentrifying our neighborhoods and bringing your car- keep an eye out and remember your yuppie montessori/public school kindergarten teacher: SHARING IS CARING.

    Cars can kill you, bikes are your friends!

    1. I’ll share the sidewalk with any bicyclist under the age of 13. But after that, you’re a threat to my health and safety, and I will treat you as such.

    2. I don’t think a bike was a friend to that woman who was killed by that reckless idiot cyclist down on the Embarcadero.

      1. Oh my God, of course that was tragic. No question. But now, please!, acknowledge how much of a fluke it was, how rare. As opposed to the number of pedestrians killed and injured by cars, which is huge. It ain’t even close. Perspective.

        1. I was walking home with my very small daughter today and nearly got clobbered by some idiot on a fixie on a sidewalk. I called her an idiot and she gave me the same holier-than-thou-bike speech. My perspective is that my daughter got frightened out of her mind and nearly hit by some asshat who thinks they have the right to do as they feel like. Grow up and follow the law.

    3. Yeah bikes don’t kill, the elderly lady hit by the red-light running biker….she just had a simultaneous heart-attack….getting hit by the bike was just coincidence.

    4. I think that pedestrians were here before bikes.

      In my experience, bikes are not my friends. I’ve almost been hit by them when crossing the road as they ride through red lights. I’ve had obscenities shouted at me for using cross walks. I have to dodge them on the sidewalks.

      Saying that bikes are better than cars doesn’t make your case for you. Clean up your act.

  8. Maybe we should try to find out WHY bicyclists ride on sidewalks – that is the real question. I personally do not ride on the sidewalk, but I am inclined to believe that people do so because either they are worried about being hit by irresponsible drivers or there is no bike lane or there are cars blocking the bike lanes or there are pedestrians walking or darting out into the bike lanes. Instead of just jumping to blaming bicyclists, maybe we should try to find out the root cause of the issue and then work towards a solution for everyone. There are definitely bicyclists who break the laws, but there are also DEFINITELY drivers and pedestrians who break laws as well. A solution that benefits everyone should be what we’re looking for – not a rant session against bicyclists.

    1. I’d like someone to explai this to me:
      Why do I see bikes being ridden on a sidewalk a few feet away from the fairly new bike lanes down Market Street? Even at slow traffic times? Anyone?

      1. Likely because many bike riders are scared of cars, with good reason. They also don’t know it’s illegal. Of course they should be using the bike lane and hopefully this will change.

        1. They’re scared of cars? Well, then they know how it feels to be a pedestrian.

          They “don’t know it’s illegal?” Bullshiat; I can’t think of any state in this country where riding on the sidewalk after puberty. That’s just willful ignorance on the part of the cyclist.

          Here’s the solution: if you want to be treated as a vehicle with equal rights to the road, then stay off the sidewalk, obey the rules regarding traffic flow (including stop signs and one-way streets), and have working brakes and lights. Otherwise, you’re a reckless operator and a danger to everyone around you.

  9. There are lots of places where it’s not safe to share the street with cars, or where it’s dangerous for cyclists to make left turns. As a result, you see people biking in the crosswalk. If you want to see what I mean, try biking along 13th/ Division under the freeway during rush hour (which I do every day). And what about one-way streets like 14th? Technically, you’re supposed to go a block out of your way and use 15th where there’s no bike lane. It seems easier to go up on the sidewalk.

    If you want to crack down on sidewalk riding, you also need to address the root cause and make the streets safer for cyclists.

    1. This is simply not true that you are safer on the sidewalk. In almost all cases statistically it is more dangerous for the cyclist themselves on the sidewalk than it is on all but the busiest of roads. This may not be intuitive, but due to driveways, blind intersections, the increased unpredictability of pedestrians, and a myriad of other factors, you are simply safer taking a lane. If you still feel unsafe you can WALK your bike.

      As for your assertion that it is “newbies” as a user of these roads, I have seen the same people for years riding quickly down the narrow sidewalk in front of my house. It seems to me they simply don’t want to cross the street.

      -A More than 30 year bike commuter.

  10. Glad to see this covered. I’ve ridden in San Francisco for over 30 years and rarely ride on sidewalks. Most of the cyclists I see on sidewalks are obviously newbies, and intimidated about entering street traffic, even in our abysmal painted-stripe-bike-lanes… we need a Copenhagen-style redesign of every major boulevard to accommodate a dedicated bikeway alongside each one.

    As for licenses, the solution all around is to make EVERYONE who gets a driver’s license to ALSO ride a bike in city streets for a 20 minute test. Then we can be sure all motorists have SOME idea of what it’s like to ride in the city, and most cyclists will be more considerate of the confusion caused for drivers by unpredictable cycling…

    2 cents…

  11. “With bicyclists riding on sidewalks, there’s not much pedestrians can do about the situation.”

    Really? Seems to me a strong stick stuck in the spokes of a sidewalk-travelling bike would do wonders for eliminating the problem.

    1. And what do you suggest we do about pedestrians jaywalking? Let them get hit by cars? Would that do “wonders for eliminating” that problem? Maybe if we didn’t have people giving smart ass responses and instead had people THINKING about the issue and trying to find solutions, this wouldn’t continue to be a problem.

      1. So how do you propose to keep me as a pedestrian safe from you as a cyclist who is statistically likely to disobey traffic rules, who is statistically likely to be at fault in an accident?

        I’m equally frustrated by cyclists being rude and self-righteous as you are by smartass answers.

  12. If cyclists are riding on the sidewalk because they fell unsafe in traffic, they probably should not be using a bicycle to commute. Also, their skill level makes it very unsafe for themselves and other pedestrians on the sidewalk.

    I’m happy to share the road but want to point out that if bicycles are allowed the full use of the lane (which they are, no arguments there) then so are cars.

  13. It’s called a sideWALK, not a sideBIKE for a reason.

    If you feel it’s too dangerous for you to ride in the street, consider that perhaps cycling is not for you.

    Cyclists, drivers, pedestrians all need to learn to extend each other the same courtesies they want for themselves.

  14. The only place I ride on the sidewalk is going up Market Street hill. Because it’s pretty steep, I can’t go very fast, and cars commonly go 40mph; plus there are blind curves and no bike lane. So it would be very dangerous to ride in the street. I ride on the sidewalk rather than walking because I can go faster than walking while still being able to stop instantly for pedestrians (of which there are very few).

    1. If you can’t bike it safely on the street, get off your bike and walk it on the sidewalk. If you are needing to get somewhere on time, budget for the time it takes to walk your bike on that stretch rather than breaking the law. I mean, really, what makes you so special that you can just break the law because you want to go faster?

  15. If people don’t want bicyclists to ride on the sidewalk, then quit blasting your horns at them when they ride on the street!

  16. I’m a pedestrian (i.e. walk to work every day down market, walk to the grocery store, walk to the show, walk for the hell of it) &, to tell the truth, i’m not really bothered by bikers or motorists. every once & a while, yea, some motorist rolls into the cross walk or honks…like an AHOLE, but in general, my walks are not bothered by cyclists at all. Could some of this tension be manufactured?

  17. What about pedestrians in the bike lane – Take a trip down Valencia Street any weekend night and see how many pedestrians there are out in the bike lane hailing taxis. Most of these pedestrians are either too inebriated or not smart enough to move out of the way – How about our police officers start to fine these fine citizens.

  18. That sideWALK argument is laughable- i guess babies shouldn’t be crawling on sideWALKs until they’re older?

    They’re called PARKING LOTS so why are they full of cars and not lots of parks?

    Didja ever notice– how they PARK in driveways and DRIVE in parkways? Oh, Steven Wright!

  19. i’m stunned there are people here advocating that it’s alright to ride on the sidewalk, but then again nobody in SF gives a flying fuck about obeying laws obviously.

    it’s also classic San Francisco that everyone is blaming someone else and refusing to take any personal responsibility, ie WHY SHOULD WE NOT RIDE ON THE SIDEWALKS, CARS DO BLAH BLAH PEDESTRIANS DO BLAH BLAH. this attitude is the root of the Cancer That Is Killing San Francisco.

  20. Car drivers view cyclists as a nuisance, and cyclists view car drivers as a threat. And unfortunately, car drivers hold all the power in the equation.

    It is unfortunate that some people do ride their bikes on the sidewalks. A lot of it is ignorance, and fear of riding on the streets. Make streets safer to ride on, and people will ride on them.

  21. i’m always eager to read the comments on any article about biking. at least 50% of them some sort of threat in them, usually against bicyclists.

    i bike and walk everyday and it baffles me that people bike on the sidewalk. i also notice most bikers on the sidewalk typically ride undersized mountain bikes without helmets. i would like to see increased enforcement in areas where there are great alternatives, like mission st.

    1. we also need the SF bike coalition to start targeting bikers with safety messages, including telling their members to not ride on sidewalks. too often the SFBC absolves itself of any responsibility in these safety matters and that has to change.

      i’d also recommend SFBC and the SFMTA look at stenciling ‘BIKERS – DISMOUNT. NO RIDING ON SIDEWALKS’ at the dips at corner sidewalks.

  22. How about this –

    1) Cars should not fly down roads in the city, roll through stop signs and respect cyclists on the roads and pedestrians in crosswalks. Drivers should also just stop double parking for more time than it takes to drop someone off.

    2) Pass the Idaho stop law for bikes – that bikes can treat a stop sign as a yield. Bikes stay off the sidewalk unless they are being walked, follow the flow of traffic and watch out for pedestrians.

    3) Pedestrians shouldn’t be idiots and jaywalk across busy streets or jaywalk period really.

    Oh, wait. Other than that stop law which makes sense, all of these things are the law already. But everyone is too entitled to follow it. Maybe if everyone just tried to do what was legal for once, we wouldn’t have to complain about others so damned much.

    1. so let me get this straight:

      1. cars shouldn’t drive fast (even if safe) or roll through stop signs (even if safe)

      3. pedestrians shouldn’t “jaywalk period really” (even if safe)


      2. bikes should be able to ignore stop signs. because they’re better than everyone else. (except the one that killed the 60 year old woman on the Embarcadero right? just a fluke?)

  23. Decades ago, countless miles of streets that had once been filled with horses and carriages, streetcars, pedestrians and bicycles, were taken over by the automobile. It was an arguably inevitable and natural manifestation of progess. But it never seems to be enough. Drivers are never content with the near-universal powers and privileges they enjoy. Instead they go around honking and flipping off people on foot and on bicycles, venting their road rage, jealously guarding their territory. The mere presence of bikes really seems to irritate them.

    The situation is so entrenched, this tyranny of cars so automatically accepted, that you even find pedestrians joining in on all the cursing and spitting. Pedestrians turning on bicycles as if they were some sort of enemy. They claim that bikes are vehicles and therefore must obey all traffic laws? As if the vast majority of infractions bicyclists commit are really anything more than glorified jaywalking. As if a guy or gal riding a bike has more in common with a multi-ton steel/glass/plastic vehicle, its driver nestled inside layers of crumple zones and airbags, in order to even hope to counteract the tens of thousands of deaths and injuries cars are involved in every year. Hey, I drive a car too (as well as ride a bike), but gimme a break. The reality is, pedestrians AND bicycles look exactly the same when they get hit by cars: like squashed little bugs. Bikes are no more vehicles than pedestrians are.

    Over and over again, articles like this one, and a disappointingly high proportion of the comments, implicitly accept the tyranny of the automobile. They pit pedestrians against bicycles. And give a forum to a bunch of hateful ideas and sentiments. It’s sad.

    What really needs to happen is for pedestrians AND bicycles to band together and quite literally take back the streets. At least as much as possible, which is really only ever going to be here and there at best, because cars will never cede back more than a tiny fraction of what they possess. For every pedestrian mall, or couple blocks where cars are limited or prohibited, there are tens of thousands of miles of roads, freeways and expressways, where even the mere presence of anything but a car or motor vehicle is legally prohibited. Countless more miles of roadways effectively prohibit bicycles by offering just so laughably dangerous and unpleasant a bike-riding experience that you’d have to be a little crazy or desperate to ride there at all.

    Pardon the length of this comment already, but one more insidious example. If there were no cars, I guarantee you there would not be one single one-way street in a city like San Francisco, except maybe a few extremely narrow alleyways. Instead what we have is miles and miles of one-way streets, which do absolutely nothing for the safety or convenience of pedestrians or bicycles. They are absolutely positively 100% about cars. South of Market, a huge chunk of real estate, right at the core of the city, can be a nightmare for bikes. Pedestrians use sidewalks, so one-way streets don’t hinder them. But what is somebody on a bicycle supposed to do if she needs to go half a block north on a one-way that only allows southbound traffic? 1) Go around the block, in other words, ride at least four times the distance. 2) Ride the wrong way, out on the pavement, dodging cars, taking her life in her hands. Or 3) ride on the sidewalk, and be vilified like some sort of criminal.

    Idaho has the right idea: of course bicycles need to be courteous and safe at all times, but strict enforcement of vehicle codes on bicycles is craziness. And more of the streets we all share need to be mitigated, made safe and practical for pedestrians and bicycles, even if it means vehicle traffic flow has to take something other than the first-priority status it so often commands. How about two-way bike lanes on one-way streets, in densely urban neighborhoods, SoMa and the Mission District, so bicycles are never forced up onto the sidewalks? Go ahead, haters, let’s hear it, shoot that idea down. Vent your rage.

    1. Try walking your bike on that sidewalk half a block north – pedestrians walk, so what’s your excuse?

      1. Cargo bikes are hard to dismount and walk alongside. Especially if you have a kid on it.

        Your general shoulder-shrugging tone of your response cuts to the core of this whole stupid thread–why can’t people figure out that cities are for people, and car access should take lowest priority among pedestrian, bicycle, and transit uses? Why does it not anger you that pedestrians and cyclists are squabbling over what’s in most places a mere 7-foot-wide strip of concrete?

        1. It’s hard, sure, but not that hard. I’ve walked a bike with a kid on it and a trailer attached. It’s doable and far safer for the kid than going the wrong way down a one-way street

    2. Well said Ren. Exactly what I was thinking.

      The tyranny of the car has to end. Let’s start with making Valencia car-free. Is one street *for people* really that unreasonable? How about “only” 90% of streets for cars? Eminently fair right?

      The vitriol is sad. Peds are my friends, bikes are my friends, cars need to be reined in just a tad and learn to coexist.

  24. I ride bikes, walk, drive a car, or ride a motorcycle in the city. Each mode of transport has it’s own unique benefits and problems. The key issue is respect for other people, something that seems to be lacking more and more in this city. Car drivers have the biggest responsibility because they have the biggest chance of killing or maiming other people. Driving a car is like handling a loaded gun in a crowd – you need to be extra careful. (Unfortunately it is usually the opposite – car drivers tend to feel safe and cozy and drive way too casually).

    When bicyclists ride on the sidewalk, they are putting other people at risk when there is no excuse to do so. There are people stepping in and out of shops, little kids, wheelchairs, people with canes, blind people, etc. to deal with. Mission Street is a good example. It is not a very good street for cycling, however, you can easily ride Valencia, Capp, Shotwell, or Harrison instead.

    Unfortunately, the same sort of people who ride bikes on sidewalks also tend to ride the wrong way when they do ride in bike lanes or on the street…

  25. Here’s a great next story: Why doesn’t DPT or SFPD ticket people for parking their cars on the sidewalk?

    It forces pedestrians and wheelchairs into the bike lanes and street, which is far more dangerous than these few bike riders.

  26. There is no reason for a cyclist to ride on a sidewalk (unless of course you are a kid).

    Considering a cyclist is traveling 3-4X the speed of a pedestrian, it is very dangerous. Not only are there issues with cyclists using crosswalks, we have issues with cyclists hitting pedestrians on the sidewalk. A friend of a friend’s father died after being hit by a cyclist while exiting a store due to head trauma. The cyclist of course had minor injuries. This is analogous, for a cyclist being hit by a car.

    1. With all due respect, however tragic it may be when it does happen, it is not analogous. The huge number of pedestrians (and bicyclists) killed and severely injured by motor vehicles absolutely dwarfs the miniscule number by bicycles. And the notion that bicyclists go around killing and maiming but escaping unscathed is ludicrous — drivers yes, but not bikes. I’m not excusing reckless bike riding, but these things you’re equating with one another are not even in the same ballpark.

      1. No one is arguing that the scope of people killed is the same, but you seem to relentlessly be trying to excuse the idiot behavior of cyclists.

      2. The point is that if the cyclist wasn’t illegally riding on the sidewalk, the person wouldn’t have been killed.

        The numbers may be smaller but that person is still dead and the family is hurting because of the stupid and illegal actions of the cyclist.

  27. the two locations where i find i am most at risk of a biker riding into me are the north side of market from buchanan to laguna, and on the south side of market between valencia and gough streets.

    it is so dangerous on the market/buchanan/laguna sidewalk, mainly due to bikers coming off the wiggle on duboce behind safeway, that i contacted the SF MTA press office about it. their reply:

    Thanks for your inquiry. I have determined that SFPD enforces bikes on sidewalks as an infraction. Each police station determines how to allocate officers, including bicycle officers, to enforce this in various commercial areas. The fine for violation of Section 96 of the Transportation Code is $156.00 and is not counted as a point on the bicyclist’s driver license as the conveyance is a non-motor vehicle.

    As you may be aware, the Market and Buchanan intersection is part of what folks call the Wiggle. This section of streets was included in the ThinkBike workshops recently hosted by the SFMTA, SFBC and Dutch experts (the Consulate General of the Netherlands) to address particularly difficult areas for bicycle planning in San Francisco. Attached is the .PDF of the presentation from the end of that workshop with the ideas for the Wiggle that came out of those discussions. I’ve also attached the release from the event to give you some additional background.

    until such time as the SFMTA gets around to marking a bike route on the street pavement guiding bikers from the wiggle across market and into the dedicated bike lane heading downtown, the SFBC should take a leading role in directing bikers to either dismount before barreling down the sidewalk or ride over to the side south side market.

  28. “Specially trained in how to ride on the sidewalk”- give me a break! I agree that there is a problem, but the problem is not drivers nor cyclists, it’s lack of space. We are ALL forced to divide the road. Let’s play safe.

    Drivers- frequently watch your mirrors for bicyclists, go park around the block instead of using up the precious little space bicyclists have to work with and for fuck sake, stop speeding for the yellow lights!

    Bikers- let’s also stop the unsafe practice of running red lights and endangering folks on the sidewalk. Yes, we all know you have the right of way, but let’s not push out the finger every time a driver happens to not see you FLYING by. By the way, I am an avid bicycle lover!

    Pedestrians- you already know you have the short end of the stick. Sorry. Keep you’re eyes and ears open at all times. Don’t forget that texting and walking can be bad for your health,too!


  29. Most cyclists in this town actually do ride in the street. But almost *none* of them stop at intersections. This cuts across all age/gender/income demographics. As a pedestrian, you have to constantly be on your guard and literally get out of the way of the cyclists. Otherwise they will run you down, simple as that.

    Just because cars terrorize cyclists does not mean it’s OK for cyclists to terrorize pedestrians. Q. E. D.

    All that needs to happen is for cyclists to listen to the SF Bicycle Coalition, which is a voice of reason in an oblivious crowd of — I hate to say it — Critical Massholes.


  30. The SF Bike Coalition is a shrill political group that has done demonstrably little to encourage its members to obey traffic laws or yield to pedestrians. It spends its time being an aggrieved party and playing the martyrdom card.

    Sorry, this notion of the SFBC being a voice of reason doesn’t really hold water. One web page on their site doesn’t cut it.

  31. If cyclists are riding on the sidewalk because they’re afraid of cars, then they probably shouldn’t have a bike.

  32. The bike riders in the Mission are the rudest (and really if all these comments are true) lamest bike riders ever. GET.OFF.THE.SIDEWALK.

    That said they also run lights, nearly take out pegestrians in crosswalks as they make illegal turns, and then when they are too winded to ride their fixies up a hill they walk them up the middle of the sidewalk.

    Good grief – they are a menace full stop.

  33. I’m all for environmental friendliness and exercise, but to put it simply: Bicyclists who ride on the sidewalk are delusional. They think they’re riding for some sort of greater cause that will eventually motivate the city of San Francisco to push for more bike-friendly streets, and thus reduce overall carbon emissions by supporting a greener mode of transport.

    But the reality is that biking on sidewalks aggravates and sometimes injures pedestrians, increases tensions and makes many residents hate bicyclists. Why would breaking the law and risking the safety of others lead to something positive? The ideology behind biking on sidewalks is destructive.

    I’ve lived in many cities and don’t dislike bicyclists anywhere else but in San Francisco. They say they ride on sidewalks primarily out of fear, and yet I see many cyclists riding on sidewalks in areas where the street is perfectly safe, with slow traffic. They say they “fear,” and yet almost every bicyclist I see will nonchalantly run red lights and stop signs — unsafe maneuvers. Where is the fear in these actions?

    I have friends who are SF police officers, and they will tell you straight up that in almost every accident that involves a car and a bike, it is almost always the bicyclist’s fault for breaking the law, whether it be running a red light, stop sign, etc.

    I’m not convinced that adding more bike lanes in the city is going to change anything. The stereotypical bicyclists in SF
    has an attitude of self-entitlement, and I hardly believe it’s motivated by fear. Riding recklessly around the city is motivated by stubbornness and selfishness, and people who are that way will stay that way.

  34. This is a diverse CITY in age and ethnicity. Everyone needs to be respectfull of each other on the road or sidewalks. Bikers need to be respectful of pedestrians and autos. Car drivers need to be respectful of bikers and pedestrians. Drivers of Cars and Bikes need to follow the law. Auto and Bike Anarchy NEEDS TO STOP. Follow the law. Use common sense Drive and Ride Safely. COMMON SENSE!!!

  35. While I agree that cyclists should not be endangering pedestrians, it’s ridiculous when motorists speak self-righteously about cyclists not obeying traffic laws. There isn’t a motorist in the world who doesn’t break the speed limit on occasion. In fact most motorists break that law every single time they drive. And of course motorists roll through stop signs constantly. Just to give a couple of examples.

    My point isn’t that there’s some huge problem with exceeding the speed limit by a few miles per hour or by carefully rolling through stop signs when no one else is at the intersection. Quite the contrary, my point is that virtually EVERYONE, pedestrians included, make choices about safety all the time and break the traffic laws constantly. To single out cyclists as if they’re the only individuals who break traffic laws has no basis in reality, whatsoever.

    Virtually everyone is breaking traffic laws constantly.

    1. more like this is San Francisco where laws are completely ignored constantly by everyone, including the police – this goes double in the Mission.

  36. It’s easy to see from the other comments that we’re all trying to place the blame on some other party. We all need to be more aware of our surroundings and more careful in our actions. Getting snappy with each other isn’t going to solve the problem of people getting injured or killed.

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