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Sunday, May 1, 2022

Reversal: EPD Now Says It's Illegal to Park in Bike Lanes

Police Department Reverses Earlier Decision Legalizing Bike Lane Blocking

While Chief is Away on Medical Leave, Second in Command Announces it's Now Illegal To Park in Bike Lanes

A delivery truck blocking a bike lane on Horton Street in Emeryville last week received a ticket by the Emeryville police.  It’s a normal, everyday thing in cities across the Bay Area, but in Emeryville, it represents a great leap forward in bicycle safety.

Until April 14th, trucks blocking bike lanes didn’t get ticketed because it was a perfectly legal thing according to Emeryville’s Chief of Police Jeffery Jennings and his interpretation of California’s Vehicle Code.  But on that date, an attorney hired by the City of Emeryville to examine Chief Jennings’s claim, determined that, like other cities, Emeryville should consider vehicles blocking bike lanes as illegal.

April 27th, after the new April 14th EPD ruling,
this truck was blocking a bike lane on Horton Street

A City hired 'special counsel', Christie Crowl, delivered her finding about the California Vehicle Code at an April 14th Transportation Committee meeting during a bike lane discussion item brought by Mayor John Bauters.  Emeryville’s police captain, second in command, Oliver Collins, who attended the meeting later told the Tattler the police department would take up Ms Crowl’s interpretation of the vehicle code, reversing the Chief's ruling, making Emeryville no longer an outlier among Bay Area cities.  Chief Jennings has been out for some weeks on medical leave and did not attend the Transportation Committee meeting.

...moments later, the truck received a parking
ticket for "blocking a bike lane" according to this
EPD employee issuing the citation
The City of Emeryville and its police department has been flustered at the Tattler’s airing of Chief Jennings’s unique, some might say embarrassing reading of state law over the past months.  With the Chief out on long term leave, acting chief, Mr Collins wasted no time instructing his troops that the department would henceforth follow the ruling made by Ms Crowl, resulting in the ticketing of the truck on Horton Street for bike lane blocking.  The Police Department's actions hint that it wants to move past the imbroglio brought by Chief Jennings as quickly as possible.  The attorney’s opinion was made on April 14th and tickets for infraction were already being written by April 27th.

 Chief Jennings could not be reached for comment about this reversal of his edict.

The new ruling will have the effect of protecting bicyclists (when implemented) and it also brings Emeryville’s Municipal Code into compliance with the State's Vehicle Code which had previously been in conflict.  Emeryville’s code (4-9.12) makes it illegal to block bike lanes but the Chief said Emeryville’s law cannot supersede Sacramento law and so it was considered null and void.  Emeryville’s code, which reads, “It shall be unlawful for the operator of any train, truck, or other vehicle to stop or park in such a manner as to block or impede the flow of traffic” included bicycle traffic in the law before Chief Jennings's ruling.  

Emeryville Police Chief Jeff Jennings
Away on long term medical leave, 
Emeryville has moved on past him.

Mr Jennings announced that it's OK for vehicles to block bike lanes (for up to 72 hours) in a letter to the City last November as a result of frustration over mounting calls from angry bicyclists.  The Chief subsequently directed his employees not to ticket vehicles parked in bike lanes.  Publicly, he announced that any vehicles that blocked bike lanes but also parked in red curb zones or with 'no parking' signs would get tickets from his department.

The Tattler challenged the Chief’s red zone exception with a series of calls to the department over trucks parked in red zones  (that also were blocking bike lanes).  What we found was that police would not arrive if the dispatcher was informed that a red zone blocking truck was also blocking a bike lane.  We documented six such cases, waiting for the police for at least 20 minutes and up to one hour.  In no case did police ever arrive, let alone ticket the truck for the red zone violation.

Christie Crowl was hired by the City as special counsel expressly to rule on this bike lane issue for presentation to the  April 14th Transportation Committee meeting.  Ms Crowl served as Emeryville’s interim deputy city attorney before new City Attorney John Kennedy was hired March 2nd.  Ms Crowl is a partner at Jarvis Fay and Gibson, an Oakland based law firm specializing in government law.

It remains to be seen after Chief Jennings returns to his job if he will overturn his employee Captain Collins’s new ruling supporting bicyclists and safe bike lane travel.  For the record, Mr Collins told the Tattler he is confident the department will not go back to the days of legal bike lane blocking.  

The Law Before April 14th:
Each one of the following trucks were blocking 
red zones and blocking bike lanes.  The police were 
called but they never showed up.  No show means no tickets means it's
defacto legal.  The Chief said vehicles red zone blocking would mean tickets,
regardless of bike lanes.  These photos are part of the Tattler documentation that he
didn't mean what he said.  Demonstrably, it's OK, under Chief Jennings's (former) ruling, to block red zones as long as you're also blocking a bike lane.  He isn't fond of bicycling.


  1. Wow Emeryville, you've finally made it haven't you. Next step is getting rid of the chief.

  2. I can't understand why the chief would make this ruling. What's in it for him? He hates bikes? Why?

  3. I'm not sure if your questions are rhetorical or not. We're not sure why the Chief did this and he's not saying. It does seem pretty clear he doesn't like or respect bicycling in 'his' town. The bigger question is, why was a guy like this hired by Emeryville?

  4. Emeryville is backwards AF.