Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Andy Thornley: Make it difficult for motorists

No matter what the Bike Nut Community (BNC) says, the ban on making a right turn directly onto the freeway at the Market/Octavia intersection is completely unnecessary. Anyone who takes the time to drive or walk through that area---as I have again recently---can readily see that, unless they're flakking for the BNC, like the SF Bicycle Coalition's Andy Thornley with his letter in yesterday's Examiner:

This perpetuates a gross misunderstanding of how the freeway is meant to be approached---there’s no need for eastbound Market Street traffic to make a huge counter-clockwise loop to get onto the freeway---the intended approaches are quite simple and much shorter: Right on Duboce, to South Van Ness on-ramp, or right on Gough, to Otis, to Duboce, to South Van Ness on-ramp. Follow the signs, follow the law, everyone’s fine.

This is simply untrue: Thornley misstates both the nature of the problem he and the BNC have created for motorists at that intersection and the remedy. The nearest freeway entrance is five or six blocks away---depending on how you count the blocks---where South Van Ness crosses 13th Street. You can make a right-turn on Duboce or Gough off Market St. before you get to Van Ness, but you still have to make your way to 13th Street and South Van Ness to get on the freeway.

This completely unnecessary problem only faces drivers heading down Market St. from the Castro toward downtown. The new freeway ramp across from Octavia Blvd. is a simple, direct way for these drivers trying to get on the freeway to do so, since it's only a short right-turn away. (Traffic coming across Market from Octavia Blvd. of course has direct access to the freeway.) Since motorists on Market St. aren't allowed to make that turn, they must continue down Market St. past Valencia, Gough, Brady (an alley), and 12th Street (an alley) until they get to Van Ness, where they can make a right turn and go another several blocks to the freeway on-ramp off South Van Ness. Sensible traffic management would allow motorists to make that right turn directly onto the freeway if only to get freeway-bound traffic quickly and efficiently off the city's surface streets.

The BNC has made a big fuss about the danger to cyclists at the Market/Octavia intersection. But check it out: What's different about that intersection than the Market/Van Ness intersection, where motorists routinely make right turns? Why is the danger greater to cyclists at Market/Octavia than at Market/Van Ness? The answer: There's no difference at all. It's all bullshit.

So why is the BNC making a big issue about the alleged dangers to cyclists at the Market/Octavia intersection? The answer: Just to fuck with motorists in the city. The no-right-turn ban is like Critical Mass, another unnecessary inconvenience to city drivers: The bike people do it just because they can get away with it.

Recall that Andy Thornley told us what the SF Bicycle Coalition's real agenda is a few years ago: "Now we need to take space away from cars." That's a crucial part of the SF Bicycle Coalition's agenda, which is as much anti-car as it is pro-bike.

More on the right-turn ban at this intersection here.


Route to freeway not too complex
While we certainly appreciate your continuing coverage of the dangerous situation for cyclists and pedestrians at the Market-Octavia-Central Freeway junction, I have to take exception with the last of your “Octavia Boulevard by the numbers” points, stating that drivers are required to go 15 blocks to “reorient car through three left turns, to face south on Octavia Boulevard after realizing there is no right turn onto U.S. Highway 101 from Market Street” (“Injured Samaritan rails against S.F. intersection,” June 29).

This perpetuates a gross misunderstanding of how the freeway is meant to be approached — there’s no need for eastbound Market Street traffic to make a huge counter-clockwise loop to get onto the freeway — the intended approaches are quite simple and much shorter: Right on Duboce, to South Van Ness on-ramp, or right on Gough, to Otis, to Duboce, to South Van Ness on-ramp. Follow the signs, follow the law, everyone’s fine.

Likewise, Market Street motorists have lost nothing they had with the previous freeway ramp complex. Drivers could never enter the freeway from Market Street eastbound, instead they had to drive down Duboce or Gough or Van Ness, just as they do now.

Again, thanks for your coverage of this known perilous intersection on The City’s premier pedestrian/bicycle/transit street. We’ll continue to push for a safer Market-Octavia intersection for everyone, and to advocate for a city which values the safe and dignified circulation of bicyclists and pedestrians above the convenience of motorists.

Andy Thornley
Program Director
San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
The City

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3 Comments:

At 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We do need to take space away from cars to make space for other things. As it stands, cars have way more than their fair share.

 
At 8:58 PM, Anonymous dxw said...

Fact and fiction are so twisted in this post that reading it makes me dizzy. The unfortunate truth is that cyclists (and pedestrians) are being injured here as a result of motorists' blatant disregard for an obviously illegal maneuver.

"So why is the BNC making a big issue about the alleged dangers to cyclists at the Market/Octavia intersection? The answer: Just to fuck with motorists in the city."

Actually the dangers are not alleged - they are quite real - there have been several reported serious injury collisions at this location since the new freeway opened, which is likely why they're making a big issue out of it.

"The no-right-turn ban is like Critical Mass, another unnecessary inconvenience to city drivers: The bike people do it just because they can get away with it"

Actually, no, the bike people don't "do it", the California Vehicle Code does it, because right turns are clearly prohibited at this location.

This intersection is VERY different from Market/Van Ness. Right turns are PERMITTED on eastbound Market at Van Ness, and the intersection is designed accordingly - the bike lane is dashed approaching the intersection to encourage motorists to merge into it before making their turn, thus reducing the chance that a right-hook collision will occur. At Market/Octavia, the turning radius is such that in order to make the ILLEGAL right turn, motorists must make it very sharply and at the last minute, resulting in right-hook collisions. Additionally, Market/Van Ness has no grade, unlike Market/Octavia, which has a downhill grade heading east and thus has cyclists traveling at a faster rate of speed, making it more difficult for them to stop in time when a motorist ILLEGALLY turns in front of them. Further, since the right turn is illegal and is clearly prohibited with multiple signs/signals, most reasonable cyclists and pedestrians heading east crossing the mouth of the freeway are not expecting/looking for someone to turn ILLEGALLY across their path).

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Your comment begs the essential question. There are injuries happening at intersections all over the city every day. The question is, Why is the intersection at Market and Octavia so special? The "California Vehicle Code"? In fact, the City of San Francisco made this right turn illegal, not the State of California. Then-supervisor Matt Gonzalez carried a Resolution in 2004 to do so at the behest of the SF Bicycle Coalition. There is nothing in the design or the construction of that intersection that makes a right turn unreasonable or any more unsafe than many other intersections in the city. All the signs and the obstructions to discourage right turns were put in place after the intersection was constructed.

 

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