SF supervisors explore offering bounties for reporting of drivers blocking bike lanes

Luz Pena Image
Saturday, October 15, 2022
Reward for reporting drivers blocking bike lanes in SF?
San Francisco supervisors are exploring an idea of offering cash to people to report bike lane violations, in an effort to protect cyclists.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A proposal in New York City that would allow citizens to report a car blocking a bike lane and then be rewarded with a percentage of that ticket, is inspiring San Francisco supervisors to consider the same option here.

"You have to get around them and you have to worry about getting hit by a car," said Ira Menitove, a San Francisco cyclist, and added, "I've been living here for 25 years and I have never seen a car get a ticket."

So what's the solution? During the latest San Francisco Board of Supervisors Neighborhood Services & Safety Committee meeting, the idea of offering cash to people who report bike lane violations by submitting a photo to SFMTA came up. A proposal inspired by a bill in New York City. But how would a bounty on bike lane violations work?

Luz Pena: "There are two people coming over behind us. If there was a car blocking this area, you would want them to potentially take a photo of that?"

Rafael Mandelman: "I don't know that, that's what I want. I want a consequence. I want some expectation by that driver that they may get a ticket."

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San Francisco supervisors are only having conversations about this being one of the options to tackle drivers double parking and putting cyclist at risk, but in order for that to happen - a state law would have to change.

"If the state were to change the law to allow, say automated enforcement if there are cameras around, monitoring - could those cameras be the basis for issuing a ticket even without a parking control officer being there? You can automate that. If allowed to by the state law," said Mandelman.

According to city data, there's been a dramatic 92% decrease in traffic violation in the last seven years. Supervisor Mandelman says that's because fewer officers are giving out tickets. There's also been a decline in officers overall and nearly 30 traffic related deaths are still happening every year.

"I think there are some different options. A bounty is one, some automated enforcement with cameras is another," said Mandelman.

We rode with a Pedicab to get his perspective.

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Luz Pena: "What do you think about the potential of somebody taking a photo of a car blocking the bike lane?"

Dalton Boswell: "I think. It could be beneficial for the Pedicab especially, and in general to avoid the dangers if there is someone blocking the lane and then we have to go out into traffic."

Not everyone agrees with the possibility of a bounty on bike lane violations. San Francisco resident Christopher Hopkins views a bounty for traffic violations as a complicated solution.

"I have actually driven Lyft and a lot of times," said Hopkins and added, "I understand as a cyclist, I obviously understand it. But I think double parking is also part of how the city functions."

In a statement, the SFMTA said:

"As is, there are unintended consequences that could arise from such a program which would create the potential for inequitable harassment of individuals or groups of people or residents to report relatively minor or temporary parking problems. We are tracking the legislation and always want to ensure that equity is at the center of any enforcement effort. We want to work more closely with the cycling community to identify areas for enforcement and deterrence of bike lane blocking. We also want to work with communities to get to the root cause of double parking, which sometimes results from out of date curb regulations. The SFMTA primarily enforces parking violations, and we are committed to the solutions that work best for achieving our Vision Zero goals in San Francisco."