Burgers with a Side of SFPD Traffic Enforcement

Burgers with a Side of SFPD Traffic Enforcement

Sergeant Murray of the San Francisco Police Department is the Captain America of traffic enforcement!

He and two of his fellow officers provided over an hour of engaging entertainment as they pulled over hapless drivers ignoring the signs to stay out of transit lanes.

My Person and I were noshing on some delicious burgers in a window seat at one of our favorite diners around Market and Tenth. For our entire meal, the motorcycle officers were in front of the Twitter building pulling over car after car. We actually started eating slower because watching this spectacle was so amusing!

A little background: Market Street from Van Ness to the Ferry Building is dense with public transportation. Running around 80-100 feet below Market, there's BART, and around 40 feet below, there's the MUNI light rail. On Market Street MUNI operates buses and streetcars. Then there are the taxis.

With all these systems in place, San Francisco has Market from Van Ness to the Ferry Building set up to discourage local traffic and encourage public transportation. If you are driving a personal vehicle, you are not allowed to drive down the whole of Market in this corridor. You are required to make a right turn at each block. Recently, the city painted the transit lanes bright red to crystalize the message: Private vehicles are not permitted in this lane! And yet private auto drivers still use these lanes designated for buses, streetcars, and taxis.

Hey there Minivan! Welcome to the big city. Now could you get out of the transit lane? The streetcar would like to pull up to that island for pedestrians to unload and load. Photo: Google Maps

Hey there Minivan! Welcome to the big city. Now could you get out of the transit lane? The streetcar would like to pull up to that island for pedestrians to unload and load. Photo: Google Maps

Let the hilarity ensue...

When My Person and I sat down to eat, we saw three SFPD officers across the way. As the light changed at Market and Tenth, a car ignored the signs to turn right onto Tenth. One of the officers walked right out onto Market. Pointed at the driver. Pointed at the curb. Message received. 

At the next light change, three more cars drove across Tenth in the transit lane. Another officer stepped out to wave over the first vehicle. The second vehicle saw this interaction and immediately hit the brakes, almost getting rear-ended by the third offender. Maybe he was trying to enable a cloaking device? Didn't work.

If you're visiting San Francisco and actually drive around downtown, here's the red lane to avoid. red. Cherry Red. Photo: SFMTA

If you're visiting San Francisco and actually drive around downtown, here's the red lane to avoid. red. Cherry Red. Photo: SFMTA

While the officers were writing these four tickets, three lucky cars drove by in the transit lane. This pattern continued as we ate. We did see one small SUV stop at the light in the transit lane. The female driver saw the officers writing tickets so when the light changed, she made a fast right turn onto Tenth to avoid getting a ticket. Fortunately, the pedestrians who had the right-of-way, including one runner, didn't get hit by her evasive maneuvers. 

As we were finishing our meal, two of the officers drove away. Initially, I was disappointed. I had been considering dessert. Something sweet to match my perverse glee in watching the clueless drivers get pulled over.

Before heading off for his own dinner, Sergeant Murray stepped out onto Market Street to simultaneously stop two more cars. The second car looked like it might try to continue driving, but Murray held his ground on Market directing that car to pull up behind the first. With his arm up authoritatively, Murray looked like he could be an Avenger! 

As Sergeant Murray was getting ready to leave this traffic violation expanse, I asked him about how many tickets he and his fellow officers write. He said that between 4pm and 11pm, three or four officers can typically write around twenty tickets each. 

I told him that they should get six officers out there writing tickets. I'd love to watch that show! 

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