Mayor Ed Lee Back-Pedals on Vision Zero Promises, Vetoing Bike Yield Law

Mayor Ed Lee’s veto of SF’s Bike Yield Law makes San Francisco the first U.S. city to take a major step away from its promise to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries.

In 2014, Mayor Lee, the leadership of the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and other City officials promised to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries on our City’s streets through Vision Zero: engineering safer streets, expanding safety education and smart enforcement. The SFPD’s Vision Zero promise included a data-driven initiative to “Focus on the Five,” assuring the people of San Francisco that police would dedicate half of all traffic citations to the five violations that cause a majority of traffic deaths. Those five violations are when people driving: speed, fail to yield to people walking, run red lights, run stop signs and violate turn restrictions.

Over a year later, the SFPD’s leadership has yet to deliver on that promise. Instead, they are ordering officers to spend hundreds of hours cracking down on people biking cautiously and slowly through stop signs. SFPD leadership is even erroneously adding those citations into their Focus on the Five data, and still falling short of dedicating half of all traffic citations to the five most dangerous traffic violations.

A majority of the Board of Supervisors and thousands of supporters sought to deliver safer streets by legislating smarter enforcement. The Bike Yield Law would make people biking safely and courteously the lowest traffic enforcement priority. Faced with this opportunity to hold the SFPD to their promises and move San Francisco towards Vision Zero, Mayor Lee dishonored the lives lost in San Francisco crashes, calling data-driven enforcement a mere “convenience.”

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has worked for over 40 years to make our streets safer and healthier for everyone. We will continue that work, educating everyone on our streets, whether they bike or drive, how to do so safely, and supporting smart policies and community leaders who share our vision for a more liveable city. You can support our work by joining or renewing your membership and standing with us as we advocate for the bicycling improvements our city needs.

We offer our heartfelt gratitude to the majority of Supervisors who backed this initiative for smart enforcement: John Avalos, London Breed, David Campos, Jane Kim, Eric Mar and Scott Wiener. We are also grateful to our 10,000-plus members for supporting our work, and to the officers of the SFPD, who deserve better than being ordered to crackdown on people biking cautiously and safely, while dangerous and reckless behavior goes ignored. In time, we are confident that San Francisco will fulfill its potential to eliminate traffic deaths and severe injuries.

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