Market and Octavia
Making this intersection safe for bicyclists and pedestrians
San Francisco’s most dangerous intersection for people walking and biking is one step closer to safety. As 2012 came to a close, the California Attorney General, Kamala Harris, gave permission for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to install a camera at the intersection of Market and Octavia to prevent drivers from making the dangerous and illegal right turns onto the highway. As of November 2013, the camera is installed and citations have begun.
Since the Central Freeway reopened in September 2005, the intersection of Market & Octavia has been a hazard for people biking on this important route, due to illegal and dangerous right turns onto the freeway.
This decision has been in the works for years, and we are very excited to share this latest development, which should improve the safety of the thousands of people who walk and bike through this intersection every day. Read our blog post about the decision.
Why not allow right turns?
When the Central Freeway tear-down/re-build was planned and the Market-Octavia area was re-imagined with open skies and a surface boulevard, planning for the Market St intersection drew much attention. In order to prevent Market Street from becoming a freeway feeder and congesting it with on-ramp queues, the plan for the intersection prohibited a right turn onto the freeway.
The prohibition of right turns also has a positive impact of public safety for people walking and biking along Market Street. The author of a 2003 SF Planning Department memo outlining why the right turn should be prohibited was injured at the intersection in August 2011 and the city plans to continue to prohibit the right turn in order to keep all modes of traffic flowing safely and smoothly along Market Street.
What has the city done to prevent turns?
The SFMTA has tried 19 different methods to prevent the right turn, including signage and curbs. In 2010 and in 2008, the SF Bicycle Coalition worked with local legislators to pass legislation to allow camera enforcement at this important intersection, with support from the SFMTA. In 2009, the SFMTA proposed removing the bike lane entirely in order to force bicycle riders to merge with car traffic, believing this would reduce the likelihood of a right turn crash; the SF Bicycle Coalition believed this was the wrong way to resolve the problem, instead encouraging enforcement and better design for more separation of modes, to improve the safety and comfort of all users.
What is the current status?
As of November 4th, 2013, the camera has been installed at the intersection of Market and Octavia, and citations have begun. This is great news for the city, as it will increase safety for those who bike and walk through this busy intersection.