Biking the Market Street Towaway Zone
There has been little or no enforcement of the 4pm to 7pm weekday towaway zone established on Market Street (westbound between Gough and Octavia) to enable safer bike access during commute hours. In response, the SFBC began a concerted effort in mid-April of calling the Department of Parking & Traffic's Enforcement Division to report the many cars and SUVs parked there by drivers who were ignoring the signs.
The DPT now includes that stretch of Market Street on a priority tow list, with parking control officers ticketing and towing there daily. Public input is a key factor in implementing DPT policy. If you observe vehicles parked there illegally, you can call the DPT Enforcement Division directly at 553-1631 from the nearby pay phone. DPT staff deserve thanks for their quick response!
Congress Considers Bill to Benefit Biking Employees
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) recently introduced the Bike Commuter Act, legislation that would provide employees who bike to work the same financial incentives as carpoolers and mass transit users. The bill would change the Transportation Fringe Benefit of the tax code to include employees who choose to commute by bicycle.
"Bicycling is one of the cleanest, healthiest and environmentally friendly modes of transportation that exists today. Common sense dictates that people who bike to work should have the same financial incentives as those who carpool or who participate in a qualified parking plan," Congressman Earl Blumenauer said.
According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, bicycles are second only to cars as a preferred mode of transportation, demonstrating their potential for commuter use. Many Americans own one or more bicycles, but limit their use to recreational purposes.
"It's time to level the playing field for bicycle commuters. Across the country, people are working to create more livable communities that include reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, and increased neighborhood safety," Blumenauer said. "Bicycles offer a wonderful alternative to driving."
Bicyclist Files Civil Rights Suit Against Police
A Boston-area bicyclist filed a civil rights suit in Middlesex Superior Court in early May against the Massachusetts State Police. The suit aims to bring to the court's attention decades of documented discrimination by State Troopers against bicyclists.
Peter Rowinsky, a Boston-area bicycle commuter, was arrested by State Trooper John Walsh in May of 2000 while legally operating his bicycle on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. The criminal case against Rowinsky was quickly dismissed. Rowinsky suspected, however, that he was not the only one who had been harassed by State Troopers. The suspicion proved to be true. Several area cyclists testified that they had been harassed and cited by Troopers while legally riding their bicycles.
"This case is about civil rights," said Rowinsky. "As bicyclists, we have the same rights and responsibilities on the road as anybody driving a car does. The State Police have been hassling cyclists for a long time, and there is documented evidence that they are aware of the inconsistency of this harassment with Massachusetts General Law. Their de facto policy needs to change."
The suit cites a pattern of repeated harassment of bicyclists by State Police for using roads where bicycling is permitted. It alleges that the state has failed to educate its Troopers in the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists. The lawsuit charges that this pattern of conduct is discriminatory toward bicyclists as a class of people and violates the Commonwealth's obligation "to treat all its citizens equally and afford equal protection under provisions of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights and the United States Constitution."
One Board Hearing, Two Bike Issues
SFBC members are encouraged to attend a Board of Supervisors' committee hearing on two important bike issues on June 14. Up for discussion are two items: first, proposed legislation to require bike parking in all new and majorly renovated commercial buildings (proposed by Supervisor Mark Leno); and second, a hearing on the need to improve Market Street for bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users (requested by Supervisors Chris Daly and Leno). Please attend to show your support for these two measures. The Housing, Transportation and Land Use Committee will meet Thursday, June 14 at 10 am at City Hall, Rm. 263. To find out more or to confirm the time, call Leah at 431-BIKE, ext. 2.
Call for Nominees
The SFBC's Golden Wheel Awards honor individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to our movement for safer streets and more livable neighborhoods. Award recipients have included grassroots activists, supportive journalists, and the most effective professional advocates. If you have a nominee for the year 2001 awards, please contact Dave Snyder at 431-BIKE, ext. 3. The awards ceremony and party take place September 6 at Fort Mason. It's a gala event you won't want to miss!