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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