Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Your Bike Needs License Plates"

   With the recent surge in installations of new bicycle lanes, green bicycle boxes at stop lights, and new bike signaling coming soon; is it time for some accountability? By the way, this is coming from someone who commutes via bicycle three days a week to a job where I drive a delivery van all over San Francisco, and I also walk whenever I can.
  Thousands of city dollars have gone into providing ever-safer conditions for bicyclists,
especially with the bicycle injunction being lifted last year.  Vehicular traffic along Market Street has diminished, while bicycle ridership has increased.  Police are also reluctantly beginning to issue citations to bicyclist flagrantly abusing their right to the public space.
   New green safety boxes were installed just this week at several intersections along the corridor, yet pedestrians still remain the unintended target of brakeless and gearless hipsters who can't stop to place one foot on the ground while the light remains red.  Instead, many bicyclists choose to slowly twist, balance and swerve their way through the crosswalks while waiting for the light to change; placing right-of-way pedestrians (and themselves) in a dangerous situation.  
   At red lights, all traffic MUST yield to the pedestrian.  That means making a full stop with your foot on the street or the curb, not parading through two lanes of stopped traffic because you can't stop moving or you'll fall off. Were they too busy being stylish to consider the unlawfullness of purchasing a bicycle with no safety equipment?     Are bicycle shops responsible for the lack of safety these illegal bikes, as they are the purveyors of these products? Should all San Franciscans pay for bicycle facilities improvements, while current laws are basically being overlooked by the fixie contingent?
Given the admirable, hard-working, and responsible riders who make up the Bicycle Coalition, I'm sure they encourage their riders to always err on the side of caution at intersections. I've spoken with representatives from their organization many times at street festivals and at [Park]ing Day, and don't believe they support the use of unsafe bicycles, ever.
   So here's the question.  Now that bicycles are beginning to hold ample weight amidst the San Francisco streetscape, should the state registration of bicycles be far off?  Would the bicycle community welcome equal treatment under the law, or would they fight and say that most bicyclists adhere to the law? Fair and equal access to the public thoroughfare (along with the DPW costs of maintaining bicycle facilities funded by public dollars) should require fair and equal treatment under the law.  No one party should be exempt from the law simply on the grounds it doesn't emit greenhouse gases, or because it helps you stay healthy, or because it actually gets you there faster then MUNI.
   Just today I saw two motorcyclists and a gentleman on a scooter weaving, tailgaiting and squeezing in between lanes of moving vehicles on Franklin from Hayes all the way to Vallejo as startled motorists honked, braked, and just tried to stay out of their way.  It seems they've taken cues from the bicyclists.  "I've got room to fit so I'll just squeeze in right here between these two cars at this stop light." Is it time for those two-wheeled warriors to start registering their vehicles with the Department of Motor Vehicles?
   Just a note, the next time you're weaving between cars lined up at a stop light and someone opens their drivers door just before you reach their rear bumper, and you crash into their door, you'll be the one cited for an illegal move, not the driver.  I'm just saying, accidents do happen.

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