When I ran video Wednesday morning of my ride across San Jose on the brand new bike lanes on 3rd & 4th Streets, I didn’t have this in mind.
I just wanted to document how pleasant the new bike lanes are and didn’t really think about the routine obstructions we always bypass in these lanes dedicated to bike traffic. But then I read this post about bike lane violations from a cute new San Francisco blog:
I began whining about all the drivers out there who feel it’s OK to store their cars in the bike lane, to which my lovely non-cyclist friend replied, “Well, to be honest, until now I’d thought of the bike lane as the Do Whatever You Want Lane.” In her defense, the police in San Francisco seem to have a similar attitude, so I can see where she might have become confused.
Shortly afterwards, I read Aaron Bialick’s quick and dirty case study in San Francisco: How long do those cars with the flashers on stay double parked in the bike lane?
Contrary to what the name implies, bike lanes in San Francisco have cars in them all the time. Presumably, a car left with blinking hazard lights on means the driver is just “running in for a minute,” as if to minimize the impact of endangering people on bicycles.
Maybe, after biking into traffic around one of these blinking cars, you’ve wondered how long the scofflaw driver actually leaves the vehicle there, but you never have time to actually wait and see. Personally, being a (perhaps naïve) optimist when it comes to human decency, I’d expect the car to be gone within a few minutes.
Here’s the punchline.
In this one case, here’s the short answer: The driver left 20 minutes after I arrived, and only when a parking control officer arrived to issue a ticket.
Something [the parking control officer] noted: Her database categorized the driver under “scofflaw” status (yes, that was the actual term), meaning he’d already committed five or more parking violations.
As I edited Wednesday’s video, I noticed that, yeah, there are multiple uses for the bike lane.
To be fair to the driver of the pickup truck who used the bike lane as a passing lane: these lanes are still under construction, so all of the bike lane signage and pavement stencils aren’t in place yet.
I realize some of the examples aren’t the best in the world, but we’ve seen those construction signs, dumpsters and trash bins taking up the entire bike lane.
After I posted the video to YouTube, I realized there’s one use for the bike lane I forgot to mention in the video. Does anybody know what that could be?