Ocean Beach Bulletin, my preferred source for news about sand, hips us to this 1912 newsreel featuring an SFPD motorcycle unit that leaps from their bikes into the windows of speeding vehicles as their bikes crash into the sand dunes. Why were these badasses doing such a thing? Well, back in the day, the Great Highway was the local drag racing strip, which SFPD was clearly not thrilled about. OBB explains:
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Great Highway was a popular place for teens to drag race, even if the winner often met a waiting SFPD squad car just past the finish line at Lincoln Way or Sloat Boulevard. Racing began to fade away after the Golden Gate National Recreation Area took over Ocean Beach in the 1970s. When the Great Highway received a shoreline makeover in the early 1990s with a median strip, walking paths, stoplights and crosswalks, dragging for pink slips was gone for good. At least I hope it’s gone, now that I am a sober man of middle years who regrets the reckless ways of his youth.
Mid-century teenagers didn’t invent speeding on the Great Highway. Joy riders on the scenic road were a recognized nuisance from the early 1900s. In 1912, the city’s Police Commission responded by forming a 30-officer motorcycle squad just to patrol Golden Gate Park and Ocean Beach. The officers invented some daring tactics to deal with speeders, as this old newsreel demonstrates.
Should SFPD revive this mayhem fleet? Have them start tackling messengers as they bomb through red lights during alleycats? Perhaps leap from their bike when an unsuspecting hipster cracks open a Tecate in Dolores? I think the answer is an easy yes.