San Francisco’s Civil Grand Jury Makes Recommendations on Bridging the Divide Between Cyclists and Drivers

In a recent article in the NYT about double parked cars on Sundays in San Francisco, the ongoing conflict between cars and cyclists is paid some attention. According the article, cyclists are angered by the police and the Department of Parking and Traffic policy of ignoring, and neglecting to enforce, ordinances against double parking during weekend church services. The article also points out that the number of new cyclists has increased strongly here in San Francisco. Sadly, however, some new cyclists are all over the road (a point not mentioned in the article) and don’t know the rules–giving the seasoned, well-behaved, law abiding cyclist a bad name. That said, we no longer need anti-car this or anti-bike that banter-we just need proper legislation. Thankfully we have the politically savvy people at the San Francisco Bike Coalition working tirelessly to help with that.

Speaking of the need for proper legislation and people tirelessly working to bring about change, the practice of allowing double parking on Sunday’s is a slap in the face to the city’s Transit-First policy and the new Civil Grand Jury investigative report that has made recommendations for easing the tensions between drivers and cyclists. The report, titled Sharing the Roadway: From Confrontation to Conversation, states that its purpose is to focus city attention on identified barriers to the successful implementation of the San Francisco Bicycle Plan: serious mistrust, conflict and misunderstandings among city stakeholders including motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Also in the report, the Jury states its desire to move towards everyone seeing him/her self as part of the community sharing the roadway. In addition, enforcement of traffic codes is recommended and seen as the key to keeping roads safe and encouraging new and prospective cyclist to begin cycling in the city. And, in its summary, it states that education can bridge the mistrust, misunderstanding, and misperception motorists and cyclists have of each other, and shift (society) toward a more unified cultural perspective and coexistence.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we couldn’t agree more with the recommendations of the report. During our years of fighting for people who have been injured on the road, due to road rage or driver inattention, and listening to all the stories of near misses, we sometimes feel that we, as a society, are living in the dark ages, psychologically. I mean how come some people don’t know how to share the road? And, why is that when a person is cut off by another on the road, they take it personally and feel as if something was stolen from them. Or, seen from another point of view, why are those people, those people who are cutting off the other people, either not paying attention or doing it intentionally? Is it really so hard for us to share the road? Will people in the future look back at us and laugh, or will they feel sorry for us? We have been on this planet such a long time; one would think our psyches would have evolved and adapted to sharing by now. I guess, considering that the automobile is a comparatively new invention and that evolutionary adaptations don’t happen overnight, we may need to wait decades before we see progress in the area of sharing.