Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Right-turn ban: perfect symbol of SF progressivism

The right-turn ban issue is one that best symbolizes the GroupThink and lemming-like behavior of city progressives. The SF Bicycle Coalition began whipping up hysteria about this intersection long before construction of the freeway ramp was even completed in 2005.

There is no evidence that the Market/Octavia intersection is any more dangerous to cyclists or pedestrians than any other busy intersection in the city ("While the number of pedestrians and bicyclists who have been hit at the intersection because of drivers making the illegal maneuver is unknown...") Nor is the intersection "deadly" as per the head on the story below, since no pedestrians or cyclists have been killed there. But that won't prevent the Board of Lemmings---aka the Board of Supervisors---from once again endorsing the anti-motorist agenda of the SF Bicycle Coalition.

Recall that in 2005 the BOS voted 11-0 to make the 460-page Bicycle Plan part of the General Plan, even though the city had done no environmental study of the ambitious plan to remake city streets on behalf of a small minority. Fortunately, yours truly and other public-spirited citizens of SF took the city to court to ensure that the Bicycle Plan did get a thorough environmental review. Not surprisingly the city lost that litigation, with the court issuing an injunction at our request preventing the implementation of any part the Bicycle Plan---including eliminating traffic lanes and street parking to make bike lanes---until an EIR is done on the whole Plan as required by state law.

Anyone who takes the time to go to this intersection and actually look at it will readily see that the right-turn ban is completely unjustified, except by the SF Bicycle Coalition's anti-car ideology that, oddly, has city government in its grip. Putting in permanent barriers as an "improvement" preventing that sensible right-turn onto the freeway from Market Street will do two things: It will be a visibile reminder of how poorly and irresponsibly we are governed by the present ideology-bound Board of Supervisors; and, like Critical Mass, it will be an ongoing public relations debacle for the SF Bicycle Coalition and the city's cycling community. Bring it on!

The only nay-sayer interviewed for the Examiner story has it right: “I think it’s outrageous,” said Lurilla Harris, who has lived in San Francisco since 1969, regarding the no-right-turn rule. “There’s plenty of room there for a right-turn lane, and that’s what’s needed to keep people from getting hit.”

A cure for what ails deadly intersection?


The Board of Supervisors is expected today to approve a barrier that would make right-hand turns onto U.S. Highway 101 impossible for motorists.
Alexandria Rocha,
The SF Examiner, July 10, 2007

The intersection of Market and Octavia streets — which has been the site of controversy and traffic collisions involving pedestrians and bicyclists since it opened in late 2005 — will receive a major safety improvement this summer.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to approve today the construction of a median 3 feet wide and 4 inches tall that would prevent drivers headed eastbound on Market Street from making illegal right-hand turns onto the Central Freeway onramp at Octavia Street.

While the number of pedestrians and bicyclists who have been hit at the intersection because of drivers making the illegal maneuver is unknown, officials with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition have said reports of near-misses and collisions have been “pretty much constant” during the last two years.

Drivers entering southbound U.S. Highway 101 are only supposed to enter the freeway via Octavia Street, driving straight across Market Street to the onramp. Many, however, make an illegal right turn onto the onramp from eastbound Market Street, crossing a bicycle lane to get to the freeway.

According to a city report, as many as 36 drivers an hour were making the illegal turn in 2006, and City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s spokesman, Matt Dorsey, said at least two legal actions have been taken against The City regarding the intersection.
Bicycle activists and pedestrian advocacy groups have long been pushing for the creation of a permanent barrier that would prevent the illegal turns. Earlier this year, after 28-year-old cyclist Margaret Timbrell was seriously injured by a pickup truck making the turn, The City installed a row of flexible plastic barriers along the bike lane and additional signs directing motorists to alternative routes to the freeway.

While city officials saw a dramatic drop in collisions since installing the plastic barriers, bicyclists are still reporting incidents. On June 17, a man allegedly made the illegal turn and hit a cyclist, leading a second man to attempt to stop the driver, who fled the scene after his vehicle rolled over.

In another incident, Greg Upwall, a bicycle commuter, smashed into a vehicle making the illegal turn while riding his bike eastbound on Market Street about six months ago.

“I was cruising through the green light, and it just blindsided me,” he said. “I went over the handlebars. I was bruised a bit and sore for a while, but fortunately I was not injured.”

One resident, however, said drivers should be allowed to access the Octavia Street onramp from Market Street.

“I think it’s outrageous,” said Lurilla Harris, who has lived in San Francisco since 1969, regarding the no-right-turn rule. “There’s plenty of room there for a right-turn lane, and that’s what’s needed to keep people from getting hit.”

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