Bicycle Plan - Part 8

Bicycle Policies, Ordinances, and Legislation

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The objectives of this chapter are to:

* Identify existing City policies, practices, standards, and regulations that directly or indirectly affect bicycling.

* Recommend changes and additions to City policies and ordinances that would integrate bicycling into the transportation system, encourage bicycle usage, and improve safety.

* Ensure that City policies, regulations, and ordinances are consistent with state law and are in the best interests of bicyclists.

* Identify training needs and opportunities for City planners and engineers.

The chapter includes the following subjects:

* Recommended changes to the Transportation Element of the San Francisco Master Plan, including, but not limited to, the element's bicycle section.

* A review of existing City traffic ordinances affecting bicycling.

* A discussion of several related legal questions.

* Proposals for other ordinances that the City should adopt.

* Recommendations for specific maintenance policies and standards.

* An evaluation of the existing system of bicycle registration in California and recommendations for a San Francisco bicycle registration program.

The topic of City policies includes a broad range of subjects, including policies on planning, design, maintenance, land use, funding, education, public relations, enforcement, and coordination with state, federal and other local agencies. Among these policies, the ones of most immediate and lasting importance to bicyclists are those dealing with the planning, design, and maintenance of roadways. Planning policies are addressed primarily via comments on the Transportation Element of the Master Plan. The recommendations of this plan regarding the transportation element are contained in Appendix G. Design issues and many other policy questions are addressed more directly in other chapters.

In addition, this chapter deals with a variety of subsidiary policies that reflect the City's view of bicycling as a mode of transportation. Careful attention to these policies can help to improve the climate for bicycling. Conversely and more important, a genuine concern for bicyclists' needs will eventually be manifested in City policies and decisions of all kinds. The policies, while often minor in themselves, therefore function as a barometer of the City's attitude toward bicycling.

The guiding principle of these policies is to consider bicycling as a legitimate mode of transportation, with rights (and responsibilities) equal to those of other, more familiar modes, including the automobile. This should be done as a matter of course, not as an afterthought. If a policy affects transportation directlyCsay parking facilitiesCbicycling should, at a minimum, receive equal treatment. If a policy affects transportation indirectlyCsay land useCbicycling should also receive equal treatment. This does not mean that bicyclists and motorists must be treated identically. Bicyclists and motorists need different kinds of parking facilities, for instance; equal treatment for bicyclists means that they receive what they need on the same basis as motorists, not that they receive exactly the same facilities as motorists. The phrase "at a minimum" means that in some circumstances the City may want to recognize the social benefits of bicycling by according it preferential rather than equal treatment.

The rest of this chapter illustrates representative applications of this principle, which can be used as a guide to evaluate policies not covered here.


This section analyzes City policies, regulations and ordinances for consistency with state law and the interests of bicyclists.

Traffic law is regulated by the State of California, and cities and counties may not regulate traffic on their streets, including bicycle traffic, except where they are expressly authorized to do so. As part of this state regulation, bicycles are generally required to obey the same rules of the road as vehicles. The legal background for these important statements is given in Appendix G.

San Francisco Traffic Code Background

Because the California Vehicle Code, from which the City derives its regulatory authority and with which it must not conflict, was recodified in 1959 and has often been amended since, portions of San Francisco's Traffic Code (part of the Municipal Code) may be invalid, as well as confusing and out of date. To provide clear, useful, uniform regulation, with simple administrative procedures to implement modern policies, portions of the code should be reconsidered.

Several sources offer guidance for this examination, such as the Model Traffic Ordinance (MTO) of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO) and the model ordinance published by the National Institute of Municipal Law Officers (NIMLO), an association of city and county attorneys. California Senate Concurrent Resolution 47 of 1973 created a Statewide Bicycle CommitteeCoften referred to as the SCR 47 CommitteeCto review California bicycle law and recommend revisions, many of which were subsequently adopted. This committee's report includes a Model Bicycle Ordinance (MBO)Calso called a Uniform Bicycle Ordinance (UBO)Cfor the guidance of local jurisdictions. This ordinance is patterned after and is intended to supplement the League of California Cities' Uniform Traffic Ordinance.

The principal subject of most local bicycle ordinances is registration. San Francisco currently has no registration ordinance, and this topic is discussed at length in a later section of this chapter.

Sections of the Traffic Code That Should Be Repealed

The Traffic Code contains several sections regulating bicycles that should be repealed because they are preempted by the Vehicle Code and are therefore invalid. Retaining invalid and unenforceable code sections creates confusion over the law among bicyclists, police officers, and courts.

* Sec. 3.14 (adopted 1962) defines the term "bicycle," and is preempted by Vehicle Code '231. There are some minor differences in the definitions: San Francisco requires a bicycle to have exactly two wheels and to be propelled through pedals, while the Vehicle Code specifies one or more wheels and a belt, chain, or gears. The Vehicle Code definition excludes children's tricycles, because they are propelled by direct drive; the San Francisco definition, on the other hand, excludes adult tricycles and pedicabs.

* Sec. 4 (adopted 1940) provides that bicyclists are subject to the provisions of the Traffic Code applicable to the driver of a vehicle. Since those Traffic Code provisions are authorized by the Vehicle Code, this section is preempted by Vehicle Code '21200, which adds that bicyclists also have "all the rights" of the driver of a vehicle.

* Sec. 97 (adopted 1955) prohibits carrying passengers on the handlebar, top tube, or package carrier of one-seat bicycles, on either the street or the sidewalk. It is preempted on the street by Vehicle Code '21204, enacted in 1963, which simply requires passengers to ride on a separate attached seat.

* Sec. 99 (adopted 1940) prohibits clinging to vehicles or streetcars, and is preempted by the substantially similar Vehicle Code '21203, enacted in 1963.

Sections of the Traffic Code That Should Be Revised

Bicycling on Sidewalks - The Vehicle Code makes sidewalk bicycling subject to local regulation. Traffic Code Sec. 96 makes it unlawful to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk, except at a permanent or temporary driveway or on bikeways established by resolution of the Board of Supervisors. The Traffic Code specifies an exception to this rule: children under 13 riding "sidewalk bicycles" may ride on sidewalks, exercising due care and giving pedestrians the right-of-way, except in front of schools, stores, or buildings used for business purposesCin other words, only in residential areas. Traffic Code Sec. 3.15 defines a sidewalk bicycle as a bicycle having a wheel diameter of less than 21 inches, including the tire. This rule and exception are an allowed use of local authority under the Vehicle Code.

Sidewalk bicycling is common in residential areas by young children too inexperienced to ride in the street. Nevertheless, the case against bicycle riding on sidewalks, at least sidewalks with numerous pedestrians or along busy streets, is a reasonable one. Bicycles on sidewalks or paths can come into conflict with each other, with pedestrians of all varietiesCwalkers, dog-walkers, stroller-pushers, joggers, runners, roller-skaters, skateboardersCand with people in wheelchairs. Moreover, a bicyclist on a sidewalk may periodically enter the traveled way at intersections and driveways, often from unconventional locations and directions, at relatively high speed, and with inadequate sight lines and ambiguous duties to yield, creating potentially severe conflicts with motor vehicles.

A recent study by Wachtel and Lewiston() finds the risk of a bicycle-motor vehicle collision to be, on average, 1.8 times as high on the sidewalk as on the adjacent roadway, at a 99 percent confidence level. Because of these safety issues, the California Highway Design Manual finds that the designated use of sidewalks as Class III bike routes is "unsatisfactory."

Since traffic speeds and volumes tend to be lower on residential streets, and residential driveways are much less busy than business driveways, potential conflicts are reduced, but they are not eliminated. Nevertheless, sidewalk bicycling in residential areas, particularly by children, is accepted, and it is probably impractical to prohibit it.() The San Francisco ordinance allows sidewalk bicycle riding for children under 13 in residential areas.

There are areas where it is recommended that sidewalk bicycle riding be permitted, such as the existing sidepaths along Sunset Boulevard and O'Shaughnessy Boulevard where bicycles are currently allowed, on The Embarcadero. (See discussion under Route 5 in Chapter 3.) Although some bicyclists would like to see sidewalk bicycling for adults legalized everywhere in the City, restrictions on sidewalk riding in business districts, at least during hours of significant pedestrian activity, seem reasonable to ensure pedestrian safety. The City should add the following language to the Traffic Code in order to address the safety issues of pedestrians and the disabled on all sidewalks:

A person operating a bicycle upon and along a sidewalk, crosswalk, bicycle path, or pedestrian facility shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian and shall give an audible signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian or disabled individual.()

Even where bicycling on sidewalks is permitted, it is inappropriate, as the design standards state, to

sign the sidewalks as bicycle facilities, and it remains important to provide clear sight lines at intersections. For example, the sidepath adjacent to O'Shaughnessy is currently signed as a bike route. While it may not be appropriate to allow bicycles to use this path, neither is it appropriate to sign it as a bike route, for several reasons:

* Bicyclists who travel at high speeds are safer on the roadway, and indeed should ride on the roadway for the safety of pedestrians and disabled individuals as well.

* The path is on only one side of O'Shaughnessy, which encourages the dangerous practice of wrong-way riding.

* Finally, signing the sidepath as a bike route incorrectly suggests to motorists that bikes are not allowed on the roadways.

While permitting bicycles on the O'Shaughnessy or Sunset paths may seem contrary to the earlier discussion about bicycles on sidewalks, the distinction is that even though bicycling is permitted, such facilities should not be signed as bike routes. The use should be consistent with the safety of pedestrians, disabled persons, and other sidewalk users while allowing the bicyclist to choose a safe place to ride consistent with his/her abilities.

Broadway Tunnel - Traffic Code Sec. 96.1 prohibits bicycling on walkways in Broadway Tunnel. This is a proper use of local authority (a roadway prohibition would not be). A sign posted on the walkway at the entrance to the Broadway Tunnel eastbound says "Bicycle Riding Prohibited, Sec. 96.1 T.C."

The language of the ordinance and the apparent intent of the sign are to prohibit bicycling on the walkways in the Broadway Tunnel. Nonetheless, bicyclists report being routinely cited for bicycling on the roadway. Since the latter behavior is legal, such enforcement is incorrect, inequitable and discriminatory. Police officers should be instructed on where the prohibition applies, and if the restriction is retained, the regulatory signs should be made more clear.() As for the existing walkway prohibition, this plan recommends an alternative to it, which was presented in Chapter 3.

Bicycle Messengers - Bicycle messengers provide a substantial service on which many businesses rely, but because they work on piece rate and are poorly paid, the incentive to hurry is strong. Messengers are therefore more likely than most bicyclists to run red lights, ride against traffic, or interfere with pedestrians. These violations are highly visible and give rise to strong emotions on all sides.

Traffic Code Secs. 98 to 98.3 require bicycle messengers to carry personal identification and their bicycles to be identified by business name and an individual number. Businesses must maintain a mug book of all bicycle-riding employees, and a log of messengers and their bicycles. These sections, adopted in 1981 at the request of the administration then in office, presumably encourage bicycle messengers to obey traffic laws and aid in the identification of messengers who violate the law. The requirements deal not with the regulation of traffic or the operation, use, or equipment of bicycles, but rather with identification for business purposes. Assuming that these provisions are a valid exercise of local regulatory power and are not preempted by the Vehicle Code, they would be more likely to withstand a legal challenge if placed in a portion of the Municipal Code regulating businesses, rather than in the Traffic Code.

Furthermore, messenger regulations are now observed and enforced only sporadically, and it can be argued that they create a presumption of wrongdoing. The City should reevaluate their effectiveness and revise them as appropriate. New York City has similar requirements, but as part of their Administrative Code.()

A more direct method to control the behavior of bicycle messengers, if the City desires, would be to require the messengers or their employers to be licensed and insured (as do New York, Chicago, and Washington: In the case of New York, the law is not strictly enforced as it is considered essentially useless and unnecessary.)() They could then be held liable in the event of an injury. Enforcement of the requirement, however, would require a layer of bureaucracy whose cost may be difficult to justify. Moreover, the cost to the messenger companies may put some out of business.

The New York City advocacy group Transportation Alternatives recommends instead that messenger companies be required to provide safety training for all employees; offer helmets, lights, reflectors, and other safety equipment to riders; and publicize workers' compensation regulations. San Francisco should adopt these measures before considering more coercive alternatives.

Parking of Bicycles - Sec 219.2 prohibits stopping or parking bicycles on the sidewalk so as to obstruct it or inhibit the forward progress of pedestrians, but permits it otherwise. This is a permitted form of local regulation, and consistent with the California Vehicle Code and the Uniform Vehicle Code, but it largely duplicates Vehicle Code '21210, which states that "No person shall leave a bicycle lying on its side on any sidewalk, or shall park a bicycle on a sidewalk in any other position, so that there is not an adequate path for pedestrian traffic."

The Model Traffic Ordinance ('33-404) and many cities provide more specific guidance to permissible bicycle parking practices. San Francisco should also consider the following language proposed by the recent Federal Highway Administration publication, "Case Study 13: A Synthesis of Existing Bicyclist and Pedestrian Related Laws and Enforcement Programs":()

(a) No person shall park any bicycle against windows or on the main traveled portion of the sidewalk, nor in such manner as to constitute a hazard to pedestrians, traffic, or property. If there are no bicycle racks, bicycles may be attached in an upright parallel position to any public pole such as a light post or parking meter, as long as said pole is within twenty-four (24) inches of the curb.

(b) A bicycle may be parked on the roadway at any angle to the curb or edge of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed.

(c) A bicycle may be parked on the roadway abreast of another bicycle or bicycles near the side of the roadway at any location where parking is allowed.

(d) No person shall park a bicycle on a roadway in such a manner as to obstruct the movement of a legally parked motor vehicle.

(e) In all other respects, bicycles parked anywhere on a highway shall comply with the provisions regarding the parking of vehicles.

Further restrictions on bicycle parking should not be adopted unless there is a convenient and secure alternative, as discussed in Chapter 7.


This section considers several questions involving the application of vehicle law to bicycles, often in situations where it seems that bicycles and motor vehicles could or should be treated differently, such as passage through barriers or passing on the right. For the most part, California law fails to provide a clear mechanism for making such distinctions, and there are no good models in other states. Cities and counties, in turn, have often ignored these issues and their own lack of authority, and have gone ahead and done as they see fit. This discussion attempts to decide what practices would be safe, and how clear legal authority for them can be provided.

Excepting Bicycles from Regulatory Signs

In carefully selected locations, it may be desirable to regulate intersection movements in favor of bicycles, or to except bicyclists from prohibitions that apply to motorists. For instance, a barrier or other traffic calming device might be signed "Do Not Enter" for motorists, but bicyclists could be expressly permitted to continue through it. San Francisco has numerous "No Left Turn" prohibitions at intersections; permitting left turns by bicyclists in selected locations, if it can be arranged for this to be done safely, would facilitate bicycle travel.

The following discussion describes the legal basis for San Francisco to employ "Except Bicycles"signs where vehicle traffic is being restricted.

Vehicle Code '21101(f) permits local authorities to prohibit entry to or exit from any street by means of islands, curbs, traffic barriers, or other roadway design features. '21461(a) requires drivers of vehicles to obey signs placed on the barriers; the signs must conform to the uniform standards and specifications of '21400. Local authorities are also permitted to regulate turning movements at intersections by placing signs or other traffic control devices, and it is unlawful for vehicular traffic to disobey these signs ('22101).

Under '21200, traffic laws that apply to drivers of vehicles apply also to operators of bicycles, including these prohibitions and turn restrictions. There is no provision for local authorities to differentiate between vehicles and bicycles. On the whole this is strongly to cyclists' advantage, since most such discrimination would undoubtedly be against bicyclists. As a result, there is also no authority to discriminate in favor of bicyclists.

'22101 of the Vehicle Code permits local authorities to require or prohibit turning movements at intersections by means of signs or signals. "Any driver of a vehicle" must obey the signs or signals. Any such prohibition that applies to vehicles would also apply to bicycles. In addition, '22101(a) permits local authorities to erect signs regulating or prohibiting turning movements at intersections; subdivision (c) requires that notice of a prohibited right or left turn must be given by a sign; and subdivision (d) makes it unlawful for "any driver of a vehicle" to disobey such a sign. Again, a prohibition applying to all vehicles would apply to bicycles. Finally, '22113 permits local authorities by ordinance to prohibit the making of any turning movement by any vehicle at or between intersections. It is not clear whether "any" means "any specified" or "all," and there is no case law construing this section. However, any prohibition that applied to all vehicles would also apply to bicycles.

San Francisco exempts buses from left turn prohibitions at certain intersections. Its authority for doing so may be '22101(a), although that section does not confer any explicit power to prohibit turns by specified types of vehicles (that is, all those that are not buses); on the contrary, subdivision (d) implies that the prohibition is meant to apply to all vehicles. In any case, because '21200 makes bicyclists subject to all provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle, cities have no authority to prohibit turns by vehicles while permitting them by bicyclists.

STOP signs that exempt cable cars, on the other hand, are clearly lawful, because cable cars, which run on tracks, are not legally considered vehicles, nor do they have the rights of or are they subject to the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle.

The City of Palo Alto has installed "Except Bicycles" plates on "Do Not Enter" signs at many traffic barriers. Palo Alto also signs a busy intersection near Palo Alto High School (Churchill at Alma) to require motorists to turn left during the morning rush hour, but permits bicyclists to continue by means of an "Except Bicycles" plate. These distinctions, although accepted and noncontroversial, are probably improper under state law since there is no specific provision in the vehicle code that would allow it.

San Francisco should therefore ask the Legislature to amend Vehicle Code '22101 to provide that Caltrans or local authorities may regulate or prohibit turning movements by vehicles or specified types of vehicles, and that those agencies may except bicyclists from such a regulation or prohibition. Similarly, the City should request that '21101(f) be amended to provide that local authorities may prohibit entry to any street by means of islands, curbs, barriers, or other design features, and may except bicyclists from a prohibition. These amendments would legitimize an already common and harmless practice.

Some cities or counties (such as Los Angeles County and the City of San Jose) reserve lanes exclusively for buses, not permitting even high-occupancy vehicles to travel in them (except for turns). The authority for such lanes appears to be '21655.7, which lets local authorities use a portion of a highway exclusively as a public mass transit guideway. "Guideway" is not otherwise defined. The Traffic Code of San Francisco (Section 31) also establishes transit-only lanes, and thus, bicycles are technically excluded from them.

Other cities such as Toronto, Canada, and Madison, Wisconsin, allow bicycles and buses to share these diamond lanes. These cities feel that both bicycles and buses are modes of travel that should be encouraged and have found that buses and bicycles can co-exist. Studies by the Federal Highway Administration and others indicate that curb lane widths between 14 and 16 feet are best to accommodate the shared use of the lane, although Toronto has used lanes as narrow as 10 feet. The City of San Francisco should allow bicycles to use its diamond bus lanes as well. The lanes should be restriped as necessary to provide at least 14 feet of curb lane width. To be thorough, the City should also request the Legislature to amend '21655.7 so that local authorities may permit bicycles to travel on a mass transit guideway.

Passing on the Right

Is it legal for a bicyclist to overtake a motorist on the right? In general, Vehicle Code '21750 requires passing to be performed on the left at a safe distance, and this applies to passing by bicycles as well as automobiles. There are, however, several exceptions to this rule.

The principal exception, in '21754, provides that the driver of a motor vehicle may pass a left-turning vehicle on the right. Passing on the right is also permitted when there is room for at least two lines of moving traffic in the direction of travel. Within a business or residential district the roadway need not be divided into lanes, but outside such districts it must be.

Passing on the right is also permitted on a one-way street or on a highway divided into two roadways. In these cases there is no restriction on width or lane markings. In both cases the driver need not change lanes to pass. Where lanes are marked, under '21658(a) a vehicle must be driven entirely within a lane, and passing on the right in general is permitted only when it can be done in safety ('21755).

Thus it seems entirely within the spirit of the Vehicle Code for a bicyclist to overtake a motorist on the right within a lane wide enough to accommodate a line of moving bicycles. This would clearly be the case where there is a bicycle lane or shoulder; in other places, it depends on the width and condition of the lane and on traffic speed and volume. There is a difficulty, however, with the letter of the law: '21754 refers only to motor vehicles, not to vehicles in general, and is therefore not made applicable to bicycles by '21200. This seems to be an oversight on the Legislature's part, since if construed literally, '21754 would require bicyclists to pass even left-turning motorists on the left. The City should ask the Legislature to correct this oversight.

Some bicyclists would like to have explicit permission to pass on the right, which would also have to be provided by the Legislature. Expressly permitting bicyclists to pass on the right, however, could create a potentially serious hazard. A bicyclist traveling near the curb, in a bike lane, or on the shoulder must not attempt to overtake on the right a vehicle turning right, a bus loading or unloading passengers, or a double-parked vehicle. Such conflicts are a major cause of car-bike collisions. The motorist is partly to blame for failing to approach the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway ('22100), failing to merge into the bike lane ('21717) and/or failing to signal his turn. But the bicyclist is often partly to blame as well for keeping too far to the right or trying to squeeze past a right-turning vehicle. A road position farther from the curb makes the bicyclist more visible and discourages improper turns on the part of the motorist. Bicycle lanes, in particular, encourage this conflict.

The problem does not arise when motor vehicles pass each other on planed roadways, because the right-turning rules in '22100, and lane markings and signs, never permit right turns from a position to the left of through traffic.

Unrestricted passing on the right is therefore not recommended. If the City proposes that passing on the right be permitted, it should request the Legislature to authorize such overtaking "only under conditions which permit the movement to be made with safety and without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle."

Parking in Bike Lanes

With parking at a premium in San Francisco, it is common for cars to park in bicycle lanes, where they create a serious hazard (just as they would if parked in any traffic lane). This sections examines the legal implications of parking in bike lanes.

Vehicle Code '21207 allows cities and counties to establish bicycle lanes on the road in compliance with '891 (formerly '2376) of the Streets and Highways Code, which requires adherence to design criteria established by Caltrans. Those criteria are contained in Chapter 1000 of the Caltrans Highway Design Manual.()

To comply with these standards, the city or county must prohibit parking in bike lanes that are too narrow to meet the standards for bike lanes with parking. Parked vehicles that block the bike lane can be cited for violation of this local prohibition, which is normally signed, or of Vehicle Code '21211(b), which prohibits parking in a bikeway so as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of any bicyclist. (Vehicle Code '21208(a)(3) allows bicyclists to leave the bike lane to avoid the obstacle, although of course that may not always be desirable.) '21211(b) would also apply to parking so as to block a wide bike lane.

Double parking in a bike lane constitutes two offenses, which can be cited and fined separately: parking where prohibited by sign or by '21211(b), and double parking in itself (parking more than 18 inches from the curb, '22501(a)).

Fines in San Francisco are set by the Board of Supervisors. The fine for parking where prohibited is $25. The fine for double parking is $50.

There seems to be no need for changes to state law or local ordinances in order to enforce parking violations in bicycle lanes. There does seem to be a need for more thorough and consistent enforcement of existing laws, and for more thorough signing or pavement marking. Since bicycle lane violations block a lane of traffic, there may also be justification for increasing the fine for violations ('21211(b)). In addition, double parking by nature is usually short-term. In areas where double parking is a chronic problem, it may be indicative of the need for more short-term parking. If more green curb spaces were available for 10-20 minutes, (and enforced!) it may reduce the need and temptation to double park. Thus, it is recommended that the City not wait for a merchant's request for short-term parking but actively identify and re-designate curbs as such in areas of persistent double parking in bike lanes or bike routes.


Proposed New Ordinances

Establishment of Bike Lanes - Under Vehicle Code '21207, local authorities may establish bicycle lanes on the street by ordinance or resolution. This official establishment is necessary for laws concerning bicycling or driving in bicycle lanes to be enforced.

San Francisco currently establishes each bicycle lane by separate ordinance, a cumbersome and inefficient procedure. It should not be necessary for the Board of Supervisors to approve each lane individually. It would be preferable instead for a single ordinance or resolution to officially establish the bicycle lanes designated on a specified plan as of a certain date and as thereafter amended; the amendment process would not need to involve the Board. Alternatively, the Board could delegate its authority to establish lanes to a suitable official.

Bicycle Coordinators - The Federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act requires each state to establish and fund a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator in its Department of Transportation. California statute now also requires a bicycle coordinator in the Department of Transportation. San Francisco currently has a Bicycle Program Manager in the Department of Parking and Traffic, but in a city of this size, it would be appropriate to adopt a similar local requirement to ensure that the position is permanent.

Shower Ordinances - Showers at the workplace can encourage bicycle commuting, and in some circumstances employee bicycle parking may go unused if showers are not provided as well. Showers are recommended at all of the attractors depicted in Figure 2-2. Some employers, such as hospitals, have showers available for use by their employees, and other employers receive health club memberships for their employees as part of the building lease. For the most part, however, showers are not routinely available to San Francisco workers.

Showers benefit all employees such as noontime runners, as well as those who commute to work by bicycle, and it is becoming a common practice for new developments to install fitness centers, including showers, in order to attract tenants and employees. Thus developers may not view a shower ordinance as a burden.

The cities of Palo Alto and Los Angeles both have shower requirements. In all zoning districts where such uses are permitted, Palo Alto requires the provision of employee shower facilities for any new building or for any addition to or enlargement of an existing building, in compliance with the following table:



Gross Floor Area of

New Construction

Number of Showers


Medical, professional, general

business offices, financial services, business and trade schools and general business services.

0-9,999 sq. ft.

No requirement

10,000-19,999 sq. ft.


20,000-49,999 sq. ft.


50,000 sq. ft. and up


Retail, personal and eating and drinking services.

0-24,999 sq. ft

No requirement

25,000-49,999 sq. ft.


50,000-99,999 sq. ft.


100,000 sq. ft. and up


It is recommended that the City of San Francisco adopt a similar ordinance.

Small businesses are exempt from the expense of shower installation, but again, it may be possible for employees of these businesses to share showers at a common location, funded by a developer contribution or installed by the city through an impact fee or assessment district.

Proposed New Policies

The following additional policies are recommended for adoption by San Francisco. They would, over time, provide more space or retain existing roadway space for use by bicyclists. Many of these policies are already in use by cities in California and the United States, including Palo Alto, Davis, Seattle, Portland, and Boulder.

* It should be a policy of the City of San Francisco that bicycling within the City should be at least as convenient as driving.

* Amending the Congestion Management regulations to exempt bicycle projects that may adversely impact traffic level of service should be considered.

* All multi-lane streets that currently have excess capacity should be reviewed for inclusion in the bicycle network such as the possibility of removing a travel lane to add bike lanes or other bicycle-friendly treatments.

* Whenever new on-street spaces are created, especially the conversion of parallel parking to diagonal parking, the potential detrimental effect on cyclists will be considered.

* In all proposed street changes and new developments, bicycle impacts should be specifically addressed. Standards of significance should be developed for the following impacts:

* Consistency with the General Plan and Bikeway Plan;

* Impact on the Existing Bikeway System;

* Permanent travel pattern or access changes including the degree to which bicycle travel patterns are altered or restricted due to any change to the roadway network; and

* Safety of bicycle operations are based on project conformity to accepted design standards and guidelines.

* Straight-through bicycle lanes should be provided to the left of right-turn-only lanes where possible; alternatively, additional width for bicyclists should be provided in the right-most through lane. This is only one example of how bicyclists' needs should be considered as part of roadway design. Design standards are considered in more detail in Chapter 5.

* Maintenance policies should recognize the needs of bicyclists for smooth and level pavement. Detailed recommendations are provided in a later section of this chapter. All streets on the Recommended Bikeway Network should be accepted streets as discussed on page 8-17.

* City employees should be reimbursed when they travel by bicycle on official business, as they are for automobile trips. A copy of the City of Palo Alto's bicycle mileage reimbursement policy is contained in Appendix G.

* The City should maintain fleets of bicycles and helmets for use by employees along with its motor vehicle fleets (as done by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Caltrans District 1). This is discussed further at the end of Chapter 10.

* MUNI bus and trolley drivers should be authorized to allow bicyclists experiencing mechanical difficulty on board. This and other policies regarding bikes on MUNI were addressed in Chapter 7.

* Hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics should report all instances of bicycle injury to the San Francisco Police Department and to the bicycle coordinator. This information can help determine patterns and causes of injuries and aid in accident and injury prevention. The format for reporting these accidents should be consistent with the recommended format, see page 2-5.

* The Guidelines for Environmental Review: Transportation Impacts, published by the San Francisco Department of City Planning for consultants who are conducting transportation analyses for both Environmental Impact Reports and Negative Declarations, should be amended. These guidelines should require that all traffic counts conducted as part of the study also include bicycle counts at the same locations where motor vehicles are counted. An inventory of existing bicycle parking should also be conducted within a two-block radius of the site. The project's impacts on any existing or proposed bikeways designated in the Master Plan should be identified. Mitigation measures should not include any action that would compromise bicycle travel such as the narrowing of a curb lane on any street, nor restriping or widening to provide a double right-turn lane where the second lane is a shared through-right lane.

* Bicycle parking and building access policies were recommended in Chapter 7.


Review of Existing City Policies and Procedures

Two steps were taken in developing policies and procedures for the maintenance of bikeways for the proposed bicycle route system as well as all of the streets of the city which will be used by cyclists:

1) Key maintenance personnel in the City's Department of Public Works (DPW) and Department of Recreation and Parks (DRP) were interviewed to assess the existing policies and procedures; and

2) Existing models from other municipalities and states were surveyed in order to determine whether their maintenance policies and practices could be applied to San Francisco.

City's Street Cleaning System - DPW - At present, the City's Department of Public Works follows a carefully thought-out and responsive system that establishes the daily schedule for cleaning the streets of San Francisco. The tracking technique for determining the day-to-day cleaning schedule comes from a master overlay mapping chart that the operation department of Street Environmental Services has developed over the last ten years. Previously, the daily schedule was determined by the engineering staff. However, it became evident that if the street cleaning schedules were not related to the changing social dynamics of this large metropolitan city, an operational crisis would ensue. Street cleaning schedules must keep abreast with the frequent and continuous changes in land use and patterns of daily activities, or conflicts are created. In order to minimize these conflicts, the scheduling was made the responsibility of the operations section of DPW.

The DPW has developed an organization that has the means and ability to respond to conflicts that arise from changing land use. For example, the South of Market area (SOMA) between 9th and 10th Streets has been rapidly changing due to its transformation into a late night entertainment/restaurant area. This has prompted shifting the street cleaning schedule from the night shift to a later period (4:00 to 6:00 AM). DPW responds to incremental land use change as an observable trend takes shape, to avoid conflicts in street use

All residential streets in San Francisco are cleaned on a scheduled basis, a minimum of once a week. Neighborhood commercial areas are cleaned two to three times a week, and the downtown areas are cleaned on a daily basis. Arterials and major thoroughfares are swept several times per week, depending on the location.()

San Francisco's particular seasonal and wind pattern characteristics affect street cleaning. It impacts the cyclist, particularly along the Great Highway, with wind blown debris. The north and west sides of streets are generally dirtier than the south and east sides due to wind patterns. On the Great Highway, accumulated sand is cleaned on a regular basis, except in the windy months of April, May and June. During these months, a 12-ton front-end loader and extra crews are needed to pick up 12 tons of sand that get blown across the highway, mostly on the southbound lanes between Lincoln and Sloat Boulevard. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) requires, that the City collect and return any large amounts of blown sand back to the beaches.

The DPW cleans all of the streets in the City except for the streets, trails, and paths in the City's parks, which are maintained by the Recreation and Parks Department. The cost of street cleaning in the DRP comes from City's General Fund. The budget for repair, however, comes from the gas tax, and DPW is responsible for the repair of all auto-related streets in the City, including those in the parks.

The DRP maintains one vacuum sweeper, and is responsible for the cleaning of streets within all of the City's parks. There is no schedule, but cleaning is scheduled around events. Most of the cleaning is done in the early morning hours to avoid conflict with the park's users. If asphalt work is required for repair, funds are work-ordered to DPW or contracts are let with private firms. All of the cleaning scheduling and repair is done through the DRP maintenance department.

It is important to recognize that overall citywide street cleaning is a continuous 24-hour program that has been established through many years of trial and error. It appears to be responsive to a public input process and has an institutional ability to adapt to incremental changes in land use should conflicts arise.

Existing bikeways maintenance is part of the maintenance of the present street and park trails system in the City. However, as bikeway facilities are expanded and improved and as the bikepath design facilities are incorporated into the City's existing street system, special measures may need to be taken in addition to the existing maintenance program.

City's Street Repair Program - At present, 85 percent of the potholes identified to be repaired are reported by citizens. Fifteen percent are identified by street and sidewalk inspections, reported on Bureau of Engineering forms. A high percentage of the latter reports are issued as a part of insurance claims against the City. The present street and sidewalk inspection staff processes approximately 10-12 reports filed per week. A citizen's complaint made by phone is usually responded to within 24 hours. Fifty percent of the pothole problems are sewer-related. The City has miles of old sewer pipes under the streets. Leakage at the joints weakens the soil below the surface of the road at that point. Recurring potholes are a symptom of this problem.

City's Resurfacing Program - Streets are typically resurfaced every 20 to 25 years as funds permit. More frequently used arterials are resurfaced every 10 to 15 years.

The City is divided into several districts. The districts are reviewed in rotation by City staff to determine which streets will receive maintenance, repairs or resurfacing. The review system is flexible. Needed repairs can be made when required, before the next scheduled resurfacing date.

Chapter 4 presented recommendations on utilizing the existing resurfacing program for improvements to recommended bike routes.

Utility Covers, Grates, Railroad Tracks, Pavement Types - Utilities or private companies who install utility trenches across a street place steel plate covers over the trenches. If care is not taken to provide a transition between the cover plate and the street surface, this abrupt change of road surface can create safety problems for bicyclists.

The City requires transitions using MC3 cutbacks, a cold mix asphalt. DPW requires permits from utilities and private companies and inspects their work. A standard transition for a 1-1/2" steel plate is 1'-6" horizontal slope distance, with proportionately less horizontal distance for thinner plates.

Cover plates at heavy traffic areas are wedged to provide resilience. The standard for this installation is to cover the wedge within the transition asphalt. Non-skid surfaces that are safe for bicyclists do not wear well. Therefore plain surfaces are typically used.

Railroad tracks that are no longer used and are flush with the road surface are paved over with one-half-inch on top. An example is the Embarcadero Beltline tracks prior to the rebuilding of the Embarcadero. If the track protrudes above the road surface, the removal is handled by the DPW, Bureau of Engineering. There are countless abandoned railroad tracks that should be removed due to the potential danger to bicyclists. A list of some locations for railroad track removal is contained in Table 8-1. This list includes all freight railroad tracks either on the proposed route network or reported to DPT by the BAC and other cyclists. Locations at which DPW has programmed track removal before December 1998 are not included. Any track removal within the jurisdiction of the Port of San Francisco must be approved by the Port Commission. The locations on this list must be checked with DPW and the Port to verify that the tracks are abandoned. Existing railroad and trolley tracks that are still in use can be made safer by installing rubberized surfaces adjacent to the tracks. It is recommended that rubberized surfaces be installed across all active tracks to improve safety for bicyclists. Diagonal crossings should receive priority treatment as they pose the most difficulty for bicyclists. In the last few years, abandoned tracks have been removed or covered at several locations, some specifically to increase bicyclists' safety, including: Harrison Street (22nd to 13th Streets), Marina Boulevard at Lyon Street, The Embarcadero (from Northpoint to King Streets), 16th Street (from 7th to De Haro Streets).


Table 8-1


2nd Street between King and Townsend Streets

3rd Street north of 16th Street

3rd Street between Tulare Street and Cargo Way

Carroll Avenue between Arelious Walker Drive (Fitch Street) and Ingalls Street

Evans Avenue between Rankin and Quint Streets

Townsend Street between 7th and 8th Streets

Van Ness Avenue north of Beach Street

Mason Street between North Point and Francisco Street

Source: San Francisco Bicycle Program Manager; November 14, 1996

There are 68,000 catch basins in the City. The older storm sewer grates are semi-circular with bars parallel to the direction of travel. These are being replaced by grates with bars perpendicular to the direction of travel to improve safety for cyclists. Others are being retrofitted by the addition of perpendicular bars. This program is under the direction of the Bicycle Program Manager. An important part of this program is the inspection of retrofit work to see if the resultant modified grates meet with the safety standards established for this procedure.

Chip seals are no longer acceptable to the City of San Francisco because in time, 25 percent of the gravel is lost through the wear and tear of traffic. A chip seal is the placing of a layer of oil over the exposed surface of a pothole or depression, filling it with a mixture of gravel and sand, tamping it, and sealing it with a final top coating of oil. The City repairs potholes by filling the hole with asphalt to the level of the surrounding surface, and no higher. It is compacted to prevent future settlement and is then inspected for quality compliance.

The existing street composition varies in the City depending on when the streets was originally built. Typically, City streets have an 8-inch concrete base overlaid with 2 to 4 inches of asphalt. A rough estimate would be that approximately 60 percent of the City's streets have a concrete base. Re-surfacing is usually done from March 15 to November 15, which is the dry weather season. The crack sealing and patching of potholes is done year around.

Standard Requirements for Contract Work - An important step, and requirement, towards improving the current conditions of road maintenance done for the city through privatized contract work is to develop a set of standards that must be strictly adhered to with a guarantee of one year for replacement of any defective work. A pre-qualification of acceptable contractors who do this work would go a long ways to ensuring quality, acceptable work.

City's Spot Improvement Program - In 1993, a "Spot" bicycle improvement program was initiated to identify and implement various bicycle-related improvements. Small scale bicycling problems are largely identified through the process of postage-paid mail-in postcards which are distributed through bicycle organizations and bicycle shops in the City. This program is handled by the City's bicycle coordinator in the DPT. The program, though successful, is limited by the lack of sufficient staffing. Since its initiation, approximately 150 responses have been received. The more complicated problems requiring further field investigation require time and resources not always immediately available. The suggestions received by mail are logged into a data base and sorted by type of repair requests. The repair work is then accomplished by DPT or DPW, with DPT as the lead department.

Summing Up

The City's streets can be made safer for cyclists. Through its present street and sewer inspection program, citizens' reports and pilot spot improvements programs, the city has a level of street maintenance standards that responds to the needs of largely auto dependent public community. A sub-standard road surface may seem to the auto users as a nuisance condition; whereas, the same condition to the bicyclist is far more critical or may even be life threatening. It is because of this distinction that the following recommendations are made for further study and deliberation by all representatives of the community and transportation related city agencies and departments.

Need for a Higher Standard - In order to ensure bicyclist safety, a higher standard for road maintenance than what now exists is called for. To create it, a public awareness of the needs for higher standards must be developed. This report is the first step of that process, and specific recommendations for maintenance standards are presented in the next section.

Public commitments will then have to be made to develop the necessary mechanism and support required for implementation. Having made a major shift in public awareness and institutional support, we will have gone a long ways in establishing a climate not only for carrying out the design of new bicycle-friendly street facilities, but set the stage of improving our street maintenance standards, Standards that will establish San Francisco as one of the nation's large metropolitan urban centers that have pioneered the conditions that will make its streets also truly accessible to alternative forms of transportation, backed up by higher standards of safety and design amenities for its public.

Accepted Streets - All streets proposed as part of the Recommended Bikeway Network should be accepted upon adoption of this plan. The City should not require fronting property owners to bring them up to code. Rather, the presence of a bicycle route should be added to the list of reasons to accept streets even though they may be deficient in some physical features. The City will be responsible for the physical condition of the surface of these streets, thus, it must maintain them. The overriding reason for a street's acceptance() should be its designation on the Citywide bikeway network.

A Built-In Monitoring Mechanism - The previously recommended committee to include representatives from DPW, DRP, DPT and the bicycle coordinator will also improve interdepartmental coordination regarding any maintenance problems on San Francisco's streets, including designated bikeways. Maintenance or street cleaning issues that are ongoing will have a better chance to be aired and prioritized and monitored for implementation. Also the City's bicycle coordinator can also be alerted and updated to potential changes in transportation patterns that affect the City's commuter and recreational bike riding community.

Reinforce and Expand Spot Improvement Program - Maintaining and expanding this program will enable problems to be directly addressed by avoiding bureaucratic hassles.

Maintenance Standards Recommendations

Street Cut Improvements:

* Mark all open street cuts with barriers, or cover with two inches of asphalt.

* Bring all street cuts flush to the adjacent surface. When a street is re-surfaced with an asphalt overlay, the existing asphalt in the area adjacent to the gutter lip should be ground to the depth of the asphalt concrete to be placed on the street. Temporary asphalt ramps can be installed at all wedge cuts located at intersections, pedestrian and bike crossings to provide a transition at the vertical differential. In addition, when the asphalt concrete is finally placed on the street, the level of the asphalt should match the level of the gutter within a 1/4-inch to eliminate the edge that can be unsafe for bicyclists.

* Steel plates used to cover work in progress often shift position under the heavy movement of trucks and buses, leaving dangerous gaps. Being an inch or so thick, the plates themselves also present a hazard since the sharp, square edge lies above the street level. Bicyclists risk damaged rims, punctured tires, and rough rides that can throw a rider from the bike. Solutions to this are to use only steel plates with no-skid surfaces and to use only steel plates with beveled edges or to build up all sides with asphalt (which must be replaced and renewed frequently).

* Steam from underground pipes melts the asphalt around steam manhole covers, causing warped pavement. Maintaining heat resistant concrete pads of at least a three-foot radius from the edge of the cover should stop warping of the asphalt near the edges. If possible, install concrete above submerged steam pipes where applicable, to prevent humping of street surface.

Paving, Patching

* Asphalt pavement replacement must be flush with surrounding pavement, including any adjacent concrete gutter. It must be inspected up to one year after installation to check for settling, and be resurfaced if defective.

* Patching operations often leave loose asphalt materials on the shoulder, where larger particles often adhere to the existing asphalt concrete surface, causing a very rough surface. Fresh, loose asphalt materials should be swept off the shoulder before they have a chance to adhere to the shoulder pavement.

* It is important that contractors and utilities be held to strict standards regarding annual repatching and replacing of defective asphalt patches. They should in addition, be required to guarantee their work for a minimum of one year. The City of Palo Alto's strict policy on compaction and smoothness standards for their streets is presented in Appendix G. A similar policy should be adopted by San Francisco. Note that the existing San Francisco DPW trench restoration standard calls for the new pavement to extend one foot beyond the trench line. The Palo Alto standard only calls for the pavement to extend six inches. However, the San Francisco standard does not appear to be enforced for utility trenches. It is recommended that it be enforced in all cases.

Striping, Pavement Legends and Edge Line Markings

* Certain types of striping can be dangerous to bicyclists when wet. Non-skid surface should be employed on all traffic lane lines. The use of beading on thermoplastic as is standard procedure, makes thermoplastic acceptable. The use of pavement marking tape for bike lane legends have advantages as it is less slippery, and much thinner than thermoplastic. It is also requires less maintenance, lasts longer, and is more cost efficient than paint and thermoplastic. However, it is much more expensive and is only cost-effective when used on resurfaced or rebuilt roadways.

* Edge lines should not be supplemented with raised pavement markers which present problems for bicyclists. Where edgeline raised reflectors are needed for motorists, they should be installed on the motorists' side of the fog line.

Roadway and Shoulder Sweeping

* Broken glass, gravel and rubble along the roadside are dangerous to bicyclists and cause punctured tires. Maintain a minimum of a weekly sweeping schedule in addition to sweeping bikeways whenever there is an accumulation of extraneous materials (gravel, glass, sand) on the bikeway.

Catch Basin Grates/Utility Covers/Railroad Tracks

* Parallel-bar sewer grates have openings that can catch and destroy a wheel rim and cause a bicyclist to be thrown from the bicycle. Many bicyclists also swerve to avoid the grates, risking collision with motor vehicles. Street, sewer and storm drainage grates should be oriented so that the bars are perpendicular to the direction of travel, to create bike-safe grates. Low catch basin grates should be raised to the proper pavement elevation to improve bicycle safety and enhance smooth riding.

* Utility covers must be flush with surrounding pavement.

* Curbs and gutter upheavals cause hazardous ponding in bike lanes. A regular inspection of every linear foot of curb and gutter should identify those that are raised, sunken or that have some vertical differential that would cause ponding, and these should be repaired.

* Sometimes small asphalt dams are constructed on highway shoulders to divert storm water into catch basins. These represent a real hazard to bicyclists and should not be constructed on shoulder bikeways.

* Railroad tracks crossing should be rubberized, with priority going to those at a diagonal to the bicyclist's direction of travel.

Bicycle Pathway Maintenance System

* A Bicycle Pathway and/or Pavement Maintenance System should be a part of a computer database which can provide reports on the current condition of every bicycle lane or pathway in the City. This should be kept updated through regular street condition surveys. A computerized system will enable identification of priority maintenance needs throughout the City.

* A signing/lighting plan is needed for all maintenance activities on the City's bike paths and bike lanes. Advance warning of maintenance work should be given and designation of a detour route should be considered.


San Francisco currently has no bicycle registration program. This section discusses the feasibility and probable effectiveness of adopting such a program.

As used here, the terms "registration" and "licensing" refer to records of bicycle ownership maintained according to Division 16.7 of the Vehicle Code. There are no provisions in California -or elsewhere in the United States, for that matterCfor qualification and licensing of bicycle operators.


The main purposes of bicycle registration are deterring bicycle theft, improving recovery of stolen or missing bicycles, and aiding in the apprehension and conviction of bicycle thieves. Registration may also have incidental purposes such as identifying the victim in an accident. The current system, authorized by the California Vehicle Code, is, however, largely ineffective.

Under this system, the Department of Motor Vehicles issues numbered registration stickers to cities and counties. City or county participation in the program is voluntary. Local programs may be either mandatory or voluntary for bicyclists, and non-residents cannot be regulated. Penalties for failure to register are low, and the chance of detection is slight. Thus an unknown but probably small fraction of bicycles in California are ever registered.

Weaknesses of the Current System

Unlike automobile license plates, which are visible at a distance, bicycle registration stickers can be seen only upon close inspection. Bicycle serial numbers are even more difficult to find, identify, and read than registration stickers. Their location varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, they are not always unique to all manufacturers, and they identify only the bicycle frame.

Aside from the chance recovery of bicycles that are suspected of being stolen for reasons unrelated to registration, those that are abandoned, or those whose riders are stopped for other offenses, the registration system can detect a stolen bicycle only if it is presented for further registration. This is unlikely to happen. If it does, no proof of ownership is required; the previous registration cannot be checked conveniently; the old registration sticker can easily be removed; and the stolen bicycle can be further disguised by removing its decals and re-registering it under a different brand name.

Stolen bicycles can easily be transported far from the point of theft. But because there is no broad, accessible database of registrations, it is nearly impossible for police officers to readily determine whether a bicycle has been stolen. To identify a registration, a police officer must call the Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento during business hours to determine which city or county received the registration sticker; locate the local licensing agency, which may be the police department, the fire department, or a bicycle shop; call this agency to find out where records are kept; and then request a search of the records. This search is usually manual, since few records have been computerized. This cumbersome procedure is feasible only for a bicycle in custody; it cannot be performed on the spot.

If a stolen bicycle is recovered, the system is often unable to identify or locate the owner. Many of these recovered bicycles are of poor quality, and some are not even claimed. Such bicycles were usually poorly locked or unlocked and were taken by casual thieves. When high-quality bicycles are stolen, on the other hand, they, like expensive automobiles, are often taken by professional thieves and disappear permanently, as described in Chapter 7, "Bicycle Parking, Building and Transit Access."

Characteristics of a More Effective System

A registration system that discourages bicycle theft by making it either risky or poorly rewarded would probably resemble the title registration now performed for automobiles. Most of the following characteristics would be essential to an effective system:

* Because travel either on or with a bicycle is so easy, it is not feasible to implement such a system locally. It would have to apply to all bicyclists statewide (preferably nationally), at least for adult bicycles.

* Mandatory registration would be the most effective system for identifying stolen bicycles, which could otherwise be disguised as legally unregistered ones.

* The system should record the owner of every bicycle at sale or when it was brought into California, and authorize every transfer of ownership. Registration should be automatic at sale and convenient thereafter.

* Registration records should be regularly transferred to a statewide database.

* This database should be readily accessible to law enforcement agencies in order to determine ownership, preferably in real time and at all hours, and would by necessity be computerized.

* The database should be maintained by a government agency, possibly the Department of Motor Vehicles. Two private companies currently offer registration services to bicycle owners. However, private registration cannot guarantee security, accessibility, and indefinite maintenance of the data.

* Law enforcement agencies must be willing to enforce registration laws and to use the database.

* To facilitate maintenance of the database, there should also be a procedure for purging records of abandoned or discarded bicycles.

* Bicycles would need to be uniquely identifiable at registration. The best system would employ unique, uniformly located serial numbers, similar to the Vehicle Identification Numbers now used by automobiles. Such a system would require changes in manufacturing practices.

* If the program is to have maximum effectiveness, it would be helpful for bicycles to be uniquely identifiable on sight, as automobiles are by license platesCif only to establish that they had been registered. This visual identification would also have benefits for traffic law enforcement and the apprehension of fugitives who use bicycles in crimes.

* Since the framework for bicycle registration is prescribed by statute, such a system would require extensive changes in state law. It would also work more effectively if manufacturing practices were modified to provide unique serial numbers to every bicycle independent of manufacturer.


The cost of administering such a comprehensive system would probably be considerably more than the value of the bicycles recovered. It could not be financed practically through registration fees (currently limited by state law to $2 a year), since substantial fees would discourage either compliance or cycling, especially among low-income cyclists. Furthermore, if a mandatory program were to be meaningful, there would have to be a penalty for failure to comply. Any penalty, even if it were only payment of the fee itself, could also discourage bicycling.

Given the cost, the state would be better off simply insuring bicycles against theft. Moreover, there is no obvious analogue of license plates for bicycles.

Even more important, any such restrictive system is likely to meet with resistance on civil-liberties grounds from cyclists who fear the prospect of police harassment to enforce compliance, or compliance enforcement as an excuse for harassment.


If San Francisco decides to adopt a registration program, it should first decide its preference for either local or statewide bicycle registration. If the preference is for a statewide program, the City should pursue appropriate action by the Legislature.

Under the current statewide program, registration is mandatory in some California cities and optional in others. San Francisco bicyclists seem to have a clear preference for optional registration. In most cities there is also a small fee, but in the City of Santa Ana registration is free and compliance has increased dramatically. Given the relatively low administrative costs of registration, San Francisco should also adopt this policy. The City should not, however, contract with a private company, since private registration cannot guarantee security, accessibility, or indefinite maintenance of the data.

There is a less expensive, easier, and probably more effective way to recover stolen bicycles than through bicycle registration, by using existing mechanisms for marking valuable property, recording serial numbers, and tracking stolen goods. Penal Code '11111 requires the Department of Justice to maintain records of lost and stolen bicycles in the Criminal Justice Information System, and for these records to be accessible to all authorized law enforcement agencies through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). This method would also benefit from modified manufacturing practices that provided unique serial numbers to every bicycle, independent of manufacturer.

It is recommended that the SFPD utilize this existing system of tracking stolen bicycles and that all bikes reported as stolen be entered into CLETS. In addition, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition's action plan to combat urban bike theft should be embraced by the City (see Appendix G).

Whether or not registration is instituted, one of the best ways to deter bicycle theft is to provide bicycle parking facilities secure enough to make theft difficult, numerous enough to be readily available, and convenient enough to be attractive to bicyclists.


Although the City of San Francisco has a bicycle coordinator position, no single person can handle all the issues that affect bicycling in the City. Even if the bicycle staff were expanded, issues would still arise within the Departments of Planning, Public Works, Recreation and Parks, and Parking and Traffic that affect the planning, construction, or maintenance of bicycle facilities, not to mention the other roads and paths on which bicyclists ride.

All San Francisco engineers and planners should therefore be trained in the needs and concerns of bicyclists, to make them aware in their daily activities of issues that affect bicycles. This training is especially important because most university civil engineering and city planning curricula all but ignore the bicycle, and on-the-job training must fill the void. Such training would improve safety and maximize the use of bicycling as an alternative mode of transportation. In particular, training for city planners and engineers would help to ensure that:

* All roadway projects (including construction, restriping, resurfacing, rehabilitation, and maintenance) consider the impacts on bicycling.

* All new planning maximizes the potential for bicycling (and walking).

* The design of new roadways and bike facilities meets minimum standards, and exceeds them wherever feasible.

These objectives for training are consistent with the objectives of the Transportation Element, which include ensuring that bicycling can be used safely and conveniently as a primary means of transportation.

To be most effective, the training efforts should be targeted at three categories of employees:

_ Transportation planners and engineers

_ Other city planners and engineers

_ Department heads

Transportation planners and traffic engineers are most likely to encounter bicycling issues and would require more intensive training than others. For them, a one-day or two-day course would be appropriate. Other city planners and engineers would require different training emphasis. For these city planners and engineers, an annual in-house seminar would be enough, along with written materials to be handed out at the session. Alternatively, brown-bag seminars attended by planners and engineers as well as the bicycle coordinator could be held monthly to discuss current issues.

Finally, a one-time two-hour presentation or written materials (or both) would be effective for department heads to raise their awareness of bicycle issues and to inform them of the strides other cities have made. This presentation should be updated at least yearly. It would be appropriate to include city officials at such a presentation, since to be most effective, bicycle-friendly policies must have political support. A bicycle ride to show department heads and city officials the real problems encountered by bicyclists on City streets would also help to educate them about bicycle safety issues.

The Federal Highway Administration, the Bicycle Federation of America, and the Traffic Institute of Northwestern University offer classes on bicycle facility planning and design. These classes are targeted toward those who are responsible for planning, operating, and designing bicycle facilities and programs. Nevertheless, those with less than primary responsibilities would also learn a great deal about bicycling and bicycle issues by attending. These courses generally last three to five days.

In addition, the Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS) at U.C. Berkeley offers a course on "Fundamentals of Traffic Engineering." This course does not currently address the bicycle issues that are the focus of the desired training, but it is possible that it could be modified. It is also possible that ITS or others could add a course on bicycle transportation within a year or two. Finally, the San Francisco Regional Bicycle Advisory Committee (REBAC) is considering the development of a course to offer to cities and counties for their traffic engineers and transportation planners, possibly as soon as 1995.

There are no existing programs, courses, extension courses, or syllabuses specifically targeted to professionals whose ancillary responsibilities include bicycle issues. Several papers written for presentation at Institute of Transportation Engineers and Transportation Research Board conferences may be useful as education materials for those engineers and planners (Appendix G). They can also take advantage of existing educational opportunities by enrolling in one of the more specialized extension courses described in the previous paragraph. Because of this shortage of courses, brown-bag seminars may be the most feasible way to train city engineers and planners, in addition to reading the material cited in Appendix G. For city officials and department heads, the bicycle coordinator, or the coordinator's supervisor, should prepare the presentation and lead a bicycle ride.



* Amend the Transportation Element of the Master Plan as recommended.

* Amend the Traffic Code to delete superfluous and contradictory definitions and regulations.

* Allow sidewalk riding in certain non-residential areas and add language to the Traffic Code governing the behavior of bicyclists with respect to pedestrians and the disabled, especially concerning cyclists' responsibility to give an audible warning signal before overtaking and passing any pedestrian or disabled individual.

* Re-evaluate the regulation of bicycle messengers.

* Refine language in the Traffic Code regarding parking of bicycles on sidewalks and roadways.

* Request that the Legislature amend the Vehicle Code so that:

* Bikes can be exempted from regulatory signs (such as: Do Not Enter) at local discretion.

* Bikes can travel in bus-only lanes.

* Adopt new ordinances:

* Establishing all bike lanes on the Master Plan in toto, not individually, (and as thereafter amended).

* Requiring showers in new buildings.

* Adopt a comprehensive program to deter bicycle theft and recover stolen bicycles without mandatory registration.

* Adopt new policies:

* Encouraging bicycle travel by City employees.

* Recognizing bicycling as an equal mode in the Transportation Element and in the Guidelines for Environmental Review.

* Making other changes to put bicycling on an equal footing with other transportation modes.

* Requiring City engineers and planners to receive training on the issue of bicycle transportation, and bicycle facility planning and design.

* Improving maintenance standards on all roads and bikeways.

* Utilize the existing registration and CLETS programs to assist in enforcing bicycle theft law.

) () Alan Wachtel and Diana Lewiston, Risk Factors for Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions at Intersections. ITE Journal, September 1994, pp. 30-35.

) () In fact many police officers at bicycle rodeos specifically instruct children under 12 to ride on the sidewalk rather than on the street.

) () Note that the audible signal might be a voice warning; it need not be a bell or other equipment (which the City could not require).

) () Note that there is no comparable prohibition against bicycling in the Stockton Tunnel.

) () N.Y.C. Administrative Code section 10-157.

) () Paul Harrison, Transportation Alternatives, New York City, New York. Personal communication.

) () Federal Highway Administration, Case Study No. 13, A Synthesis of Existing Bicyclist and Pedestrian Related Laws and Enforcement Programs. 1993, pp. 27-28.

) () Figure 1003.2A in that section shows the minimum widths for bike lanes (Class II bikeways). In an urban configuration with a rolled curb, this width is 4 feet where parking is prohibited, including at least 3 feet between the traffic lane and the longitudinal joint at the concrete gutter. (With a normal 2-foot gutter the minimum width is therefore 5 feet, not 4.) Where parking stalls or a parking area has been striped, the bike lane must provide 5 feet outside the parking area. Where parking is permitted but not striped, the minimum width is 12 feet, and 13 feet is recommended where there is substantial parking or turnover of parked cars is high (for example, commercial areas).

) () The DPW's street cleaning system uses a master routing plan. It is a composite routing schedule map of the entire city which is broken up into 25 different cleaning route zones. The DPW identifies each day's cleaning assignments throughout the City. The assignments are color coded to indicate the different time shifts when the cleaning is to be done. The DPW is careful to assign one side of the street on a separate day from the other side of the street to reduce the impact of reduced parking on the street's residents.

A change of either day or time period for street cleaning has to go through public hearings. A schedule is then posted on street signs to inform the public. Public hearings allow the public to provide input into this process. For a city as large as San Francisco, there is an average of at least one hearing per week, and sometimes as many as two or three. These hearings create great public interest because the issue involves on-street parking restrictions.

Street cleaning occurs during four time periods, indicated by four color codes:

_ The night shift - usually for the downtown commercial areas;

_ Early morning from 6:00 to 8:00 AM;

_ 8:00 AM to 12 Noon for those areas adjacent to a commercial strip; and

_ 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM for primarily residential areas.

This scheduling information is placed into a daily Route Book for the maintenance workers who pick up their daily assignments from the dispatch office.

) ()Unaccepted Streets Surveyed for Acceptance, Executive Summary, Civil Engineering Division, SFDPW,

November 16, 1994.

, and on-the-job training must fill the void. Such training would improve safety and maximize the use of bicycling as an alternative mode of transportation. In particular, training for city planners and engineers would help to ensure that: s (ASCE) Subcommittee on Human Powered Transportation has developed a suggested class outline for a two-hour college bike transportation lecture. Federal Highway Administration Case Study No. 2 presents a syllabus for a graduate course or a continuing education course on non-motorized transportation.x