And when I say sort of, I mean like this, a rare scene with three of them together in a kind of electric skater / biker gang in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park…
…one used to be even rarer.
Is this Our Transportation Future?
Up first we have the Left Side candidates, who have decided to go without smellmets:
Cf. the Right Side candidates, spotted a few days later:
I’m thinking I prefer the right side option, as your typical driver (which of course you should assume just got released from prison a week ago, and is uninsured, and is driving an unregistered vehicle) would be less surprised to see you there.
Mind you, none of these bicyclists was “taking the lane” improperly – all were biking legally.
But foolishly, IMO.
The best option would have been the Panhandle Bike Path, which is just to the left of the left lane of Fell, but these tourists didn’t seem to be aware of its existence.
Perhaps their tourist maps led them astray…
Here’s what it looks like – an SFPD enforcement action, this latest one at Oak and Masonic. (Note modern-looking SFPD Kawasaki Concours 14P (which looks to me like a CHP BMW) juxtaposed with the ancient Harley Davidsons what make up most of the Motor Patrol.)
This action meant that every driver who commited some infraction turning left from inbound Oak onto northbound Masonic got pulled over at the Masonic Chevron.
One supposes that the new left turn arrow phase at this intersection was the instigation for the enforcement action. (Back in the day, traffic didn’t back up during the Morning Drive due to the Double Left Turn that’s no longer there, owing to concerns over ped safety, one supposes.)
All right, here’s your money shot, here’s your scene at Fell and Masonic with a brace of drivers, drivers who “know” they’re special, so fucking special, you know, your Prius hybrid drivers, your Range Rover drivers, and your new funky BMW i3 (with absurdly tall, absurdly narrow Conestoga wagon wheels) electric car drivers:
That was the scene I initialy came upon and this is the same area as I left. Note the all-black Mercedes Benz, Audi and Lexus. It’s not a coincidence that the drivers of all these cars got pulled over at the same time, just saying:
Of course, the SFPD will also pull you over if they notice you doing something wrong going the other way, but the funny thing was that the two cars I saw getting pulled over heading south on Masonic, against the current, heading towards the Financial, were normal ones, like VW Golfs. (I’ll ask you, should you ever be proud of your car? The answer is that no you shouldn’t be, because Pride Goeth Before The Painful Traffic Ticket What’s Going to End Up Costing Your Four Figures. JMO.)
Moving on, to this – peds coming up to chat up the cops to cheer them on.
Now I’ll tell you, I didn’t see any driver run a red during the time I was at these intersection taking photos of the enforcement action, but I was paying more attention to the cops as opposed to the drivers. And I’ll note that sometimes the traffic lights would cycle red green red green red green without anyone getting pulled over.
I’ll leave you with this, my misfocused shot of a ped giving a black power salute to the SFPD to thank them for this latest enforcement action:
(Well, sure it’s not an actual bike-only path, it’s a multipurpose trail, or something. But most call it the bike path cause bike riders are allowed on it, as opposed to the ped-only path near Oak on the other side of the Panhandle.)
I’m a polite ped so I generally stay off the paved part* of the Golden Gate Park Panhandle bike path near Fell. This was my view of an impolite ped as I trod on the grass for a few blocks:
Click to expand
She spent most of her eastward journey smack dab in the middle of the westbound lane or smack dab in the middle of the trail on the dashed yellow line. This went on for minutes. Westbound cyclists didn’t know how to pass her, on the left or on the right. Occasionally she’d veer to the right side of the right lane, where she belonged, but that phase of her journey didn’t last too long.
So what was this, a cry for help? Yeah, sort of.
Who will hear her?
*Yeah, this bike path is wider (12 feet) than before (8 feet), but it’s still too narrow. 16 feet sounds right, considering.
The SFMTA makes all kinds of mistakes all the time, but it’s afraid to admit that it ever might have made a mistake ever, oh well.
Check out the newish light signals at Fell and Shrader:
(Filmed in Nike-Vision, except this woman is a real person who lives in the area and just happened to be passing through – quite unacceptable to those who reside in Niketown.)
So I understand the red bike and the upraised hand signal – so far so good.
And I understand the next phase, the I-do-what-I-want phase:
And then there’s this:
And then this:
And then back to all-red.
So now I understand what the SFMTA means, but I needed to study the lights.
IMO, the SFMTA should be focused on safety instead of ideology. IMO, the SFMTA should strive to keep things simple. IMO, the SFMTA should factor human nature into into its signal schemes. For example, this woman here entered into the intersection way late and had to rely upon the driver seeing her. Is the SFMTA at all curious as to why people might be confused by this unique-in-the-world intersection with its current signal setup? Not at all.
This is a scene from the Golden Gate Park Panhandle, famous for its late-night, bully-boy, strong-arm bicycle robbers, and its “Have-You-Seen-My-Lost-Drone?” posters, and its winding bike path, which has become a test track for novel personal conveyances.
As here, with this Onewheel, a “self-balancing electric skateboard”
Four white LEDs up front as headlights and four red LEDs in the rear as taillights? Of course.
Kickstarter funded? Of course.
On Instagram? Of course.
Engineering degree from Stanfoo? Of course.
Mountain View-based? Of course.
Onewheel was imagined and developed by Kyle Doerksen, an inventor and design engineer who’s been dreaming about one wheeled vehicles for years. He has built hardware products from kids toys to consumer electronics to medical devices and works to create magical new experiences through technology. Electric vehicles are his passion and Onewheel is an expression of the true freedom and excitement that electric vehicles can achieve.
Onewheel launched successfully on Kickstarter in January 2014 and thanks to the support of our amazing backers the Onewheel dream is becoming a reality!
Onewheel is based in Mountain View, California and is a privately held company focused on the development of advanced personal vehicles.”
The light for this car was green green green, perhaps for two seconds as the cyclist that you can see on the right came down from the Panhandle bike path, camera left.
OTOH, the cyclist on the left saw the lights and managed to not run the red light – you can see her sort of chuckling at her friend there.
IMO, this would have been a 100% cyclist-at-fault accident, but I’m not 100% sure it would have gotten written up as such, oh well.
I’m also not sure why the SFGov/SFMTA/SFBC Establishment established this set-up to route traffic from the bike path into Golden Gate Park/JFK Drive – I suppose it’s a bit faster for cyclists, compared with the obvious alternatives.
But the whole system breaks down if the nut behind the steering wheel, or in this case, the handle bars, doesn’t know when she has lost the right of way…
Perhaps I’m jumping to contusions, but this large crew of aggressively-lounging bike riders certainly appeared to be trying to send a message to a pair of area bike robbers making the news lately.
Strike a pose:
And what does that T-shirt say? It’s all, “WE KILL BIKE THIEVES.”* How charming!
(I’ve seen lots of bike meetups in the Panhandle, but usually people ride off or start picnicking. Instead, this crew just sat around and glared, for hours, kind of like the guy on my JetBlue flight to DC a couple weeks after 9/11, arms crossed, standing near the cockpit and just staring at everybody just waiting for somebody to try something.)
I’l tell you, I’ve ridden the Panhandle bike path thousands of times in the early morning hours, after zero-dark-thirty, and I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this. Similar attacks occurred on the McAllister bike route in the projects / projecty Friendship Village Apartments near Webster, about ten years back, purportedly with a “lead pipe” (that probably wasn’t made of lead, but anyway).
Who knows, perhaps news of this kind of meet-up will spread, through word-on-the-street, until it reaches ears of these strong-arm robbers.
In any event, this small series of crimes certainly now has the attention of the SFPD – we’ll see how it goes. I’ll tell you, it’d be nice to have a retired/out-on-disability cop monitoring a network of London-style, high-def** crime cameras for the night shift of Park Station, but I don’t see anything like that happening soon. Oh well…
*$35! “Take an aggressive stance against rampant bike theft with this bold, reflective graphic statement”
**I suppose we already have a kind of video network, what with local business cameras on 24-7 plus the low-def SFPD cams, but this is nothing like the high-def cams what a town like Stockton***, CA has…
***The cops over in Stockton laugh, just laugh at the SFPD’s low-def crime cam setup.