by Carlos E. Castañeda

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco supervisor is taking exception to the police department’s crackdown on bicyclists blowing through stop signs and is introducing an ordinance to allow cyclists to roll through the stop.

Supervisor John Avalos has introduced what he calls a right-of-way policy that would make citations for bicyclists who safely yield at stop signs the lowest law enforcement priority.

In a statement, Avalos pointed to a dramatic increase in bicycle traffic leading to an increase in conflicts between bicyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. “We can minimize these conflicts if we all take our turn at intersections and avoid being a ‘right-of-way thief,’” said Avalos. “Our streets work best when we all follow the ‘golden rule,’ and treat others like we want to be treated.”

Avalos’ aide Jeremy Pollack said the ordinance would not condone unsafe behavior by cyclists.

“If cyclists safely yield slow down to a safe speed and look both ways before they cross, it should be perfectly safe,” said Pollack. “SFPD will be encouraged to cite anyone who fails to safely slow down at stop signs or doesn’t yield the right of way.”

San Francisco police have focused on vehicle moving violations as part of the city’s Vision Zero policy which seeks to eliminate pedestrian fatalities, and have also stated it would monitor scofflaw cyclists as well.

The state’s Vehicle Code requires bicycles to follow the same traffic rules as cars. But Avalos says strict enforcement of stop sign laws keeps police from dealing with other, more serious violations and is counterintuitive to the way most cyclists navigate intersections.

The proposed ordinance would be modeled on an Idaho law which allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs, requiring them to stop when other have the right-of-way.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has launched a petition drive to stop police from moving forward with a crackdown on scofflaw cyclists.


Carlos E. Castañeda is Senior Editor, News & Social Media for CBS San Francisco and a San Francisco native. You can follow him on Twitter or send him an email.
 

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