Bicycle Regulations

While the city giveth us green bike lanes, they also taketh away: behold the bicycle crackdowns on the Wiggle.

The blossoming of bike lanes and Gavin with a paintbrush are great, but is the city now cracking down on cyclists? Junior seems to think so:

I’m kind of worried that they are a precursor to beginning widespread bicycle ticketing around the city.  You know, like back before the Critical Mass days.  I’m all for cyclists obeying the rules of the road, but the interpretation of those rules is at issue, and the price of those tickets has increased to around $300 nowadays, which can be the same as a paycheck!  But I try to stay out of politics . . .

And behold this ominous San Francisco bicycle ordinance!

Oh crap, that’s from 1903, sorry.  Scanologist Eric Fischer brings us this century old news.

But some things haven’t changed — sections 1-4 are regularly ignored in the Mission.  And as Eric notes, “Speed limit 6 mph. A $500 fine then would have been like $10,000 now.” We certainly would not have survived that era. (But we certainly need to bring back the practice of “scorching”. And I am going to work in “Machines of Similar Character” into everyday conversation.)

1895 regs — biggest difference is a concern about transporting children on bikes.

As for irony, the first “good roads” campaigns were pushed by cyclists in the late 19th century.

As bicycle outings surged in popularity, riders everywhere shared a common burden — hazardous roads. Soon [Albert] Pope began speaking across the country about the need for good roads. “The high point to be aimed at,” he said back in 1889, “is the recognition of the importance of the whole situation by the national government.”

Then Henry Ford came along.

Some historical context on the conditions of roads in the late 1800s is available in old San Francisco municipal reports.

The city struggled to keep up with the surge in popularity of bicycles. I found this 1894 report amusing.


Your Commissioners have always borne in mind the fact that the public is made up of separate human beings with separate tastes, whose comfort and convenience demand regard.

Keeping this in view, the bicycle road was constructed last year exclusively for the use of patrons of the wheel, and a further extension of this road is proposed during the coming year to run parallel with the main drive.

The rapid development of the present interest in bicycling among all classes is something astonishing, and as the Park is a favorite haunt of the cyclists, it is incumbent upon your Commissioners to attend to their interests and wants.

That first line is pretty much SF in a nutshell.

3 Responses to “Bicycle Regulations”

  1. subframe says:

    patrons of the wheel

  2. SlideSF says:

    Damn! I love scorching!

  3. safetycut says:

    I’m all about coasting. Because I hate my prostate.