As long as there are people willing to buy stolen bikes, there are people willing to supply them. While we can all do things to help protect us as individual riders, and our bikes, it doesn’t really go to the source of the problem. Many local jurisdictions have come up with some great and creative programs to try and stem the supply. But as long as bike theft is a relatively safe activity (as far as illegal, slimy activities go) it will continue to run rampant.
This is actually part of what was driving my recent post about bicycle licensing. Sure, the original article was written somewhat tongue-in-cheek (something that the folks over on reddit seemed to have missed.) It is easy to argue for bike licensing as an anti-theft activity, because, well, bike licensing ain’t ever gonna happen™. But it drives to a real, different way of thinking about bike theft.
Let’s be clear what I’m talking about first. I’m not talking about a special license for people that would be required to operate a bicycle on the roads. As as been stated over and over, most cyclists are actually already licensed drivers. What I’m talking about is a license (or registration) on the bicycle itself. Yup. I’m actually 100% in favor of this. This will probably surprise some of the motorists that like to bring this up as a requirement or them to feel like they need to share the road with me.
And I will undoubtedly piss off some of my fellow cyclists. But let me tell you why… Keep reading →
In a disappointing yet not entirely unexpected move, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee has threatened to veto pending legislation that would change enforcement of specific traffic violations by cyclists.
I’m not willing to trade away safety for convenience, and any new law that reaches my desk has to enhance public safety, not create potential conflicts that can harm our residents.
— “Lee says he’ll veto legislation OKing rolling stops for cyclists.” SFGate.
In San Francisco, an ordinance co-sponsored by city supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim and Eric Mar appears poised to pass. This ordinance will change stop sign violations by cyclists to the the lowest priority of the police department. Functionally, this will create a similar situation to the Idaho Stop law, but within the city boundaries only. In the state of California (unlike some other states) an actual change in the law would have to take place at the state level.
At this time, 6 of the 11 supervisors support the ordinance. Those currently in favor are Avalos, Breed, Campos, Kim, Mar and Wiener. According to KQED, supervisors Christensen, Cohen and Farrell are currently undecided
Supervisor Malia Cohen has not yet taken a position on the issue, said aide Yoyo Chan. “We are still continuing to hear from all perspectives,” Chan said in an email.
— “Majority of S.F. Supervisors Back ‘Idaho Stop’ Proposal for Cyclists” KQED.
That is the majority required to move the ordinance along to the mayor. However, support of Mayor Ed Lee is still unclear, and it would take a vote of 9 supervisors to override his veto should it occur.
This shift has come about in no small part due to a recent “stop in” demonstration on the famous Wiggle of San Francisco.
At the state level, there was another change. Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law creating a means to allow cyclists and pedestrians that have received a traffic citation to have their fines reduced by attending traffic school. These diversion programs would be set up and run by the local jurisdictions. This is similar to the system already in place for motor vehicle moving violations. As the BikingInLA blog points out, the provides more than just a reduction in fines. Instead, it creates a unique opportunity to educate. And there are certainly enough folks out there that could do with a little bit of that.
Ed Lee photo credit: By Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg: Nancy Pelosi derivative work: Tktru (Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Idaho – arguably one of the pointiest states in the union – is back in the news again. This time on the streets of San Francisco. More precisely on the bike route affectionately known as “The Wiggle.” This road has become yet another battleground in the war between local police departments, cyclists, the anti-cycling bias and those frustrated with what they perceive as persistently scofflaw cyclists.
However, this time the news was not about cyclists breaking the law. Rather, it was about a bunch of cyclists going out of their way to follow the very letter of the law. That’s right. It was a deliberate act of civil-OBEDIENCE. Keep reading →
There is a scene in the movie Roadhouse where the main character is telling the bar staff at a rather rough bar to just “be nice.” If you haven’t seen it – it is a classic. Go watch it. If you have, stop rolling your eyes at me…
Anyhow, it struck me today how great the advice from this scene is for all of us bicycle commuters out there. There is far to much confrontational thinking where none is needed. Sometimes it is motorists thinking we are complete asses, and sometimes it is us assuming motorists are complete asses just out to kill us. But I had three separate incidents in the past two days that have turned me back on to the idea of “just being nice.” Keep reading →
The University of Colorado Denver is engaged in a study of cycling behavior on the roads, and has created an online survey to help gather data. Lead by principal investigator Dr Wes Marshall, the survey asks questions about your driving habits, cycling habits, and opinions on both.
The survey was mentioned in a well written discussion in a Washington Post article about why cyclists may be motivated to ignore, bend or even break traffic laws – a good counterpoint to another article from the same publication basically arguing that bikes should be banned from the roads.
My one concern about the survey, however, is that the title itself seems to imply an inherent bias. While it did not influence me (that I know of) using the title “Scofflaw Biking Survey” seems a bit too biased for an accurate cycling behavioral study. And for those prone to more subtle input, the URL is worse: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1885930/bikingbad.
A recent article on Gawker tells the story of one unique approach to the problem – public shame and fear. But does this approach actually work?
San Francisco Police Department has been using this approach for some time now in full force. Part of their active approach involves the deployment of bait bikes – bikes locked up around the city with GPS tracking devices in them. This program has been coupled with a PR campaign run in conjunction with the nonprofit Safe Bikes in an attempt to erode the brazen attitude of serial bike thieves. Local cyclists have snapped up the free stickers, placing them on their personal bikes. This proliferation serves as a constant reminder to bike thieves of the presence of the bait bike program.
Only time (and statistics) will tell if these programs have an impact on the alarming number of bike thefts occurring here in San Francisco. Until then, of course, the best action to take is to learn how to protect yourself and your bicycle.