The right-turn ban: Where's the evidence?
The hysteria over the Market/Octavia intersection began long before the new freeway ramp and the new, unimproved Octavia Blvd. were open in 2005. At the behest of the SF Bicycle Coalition, in 2004 then-Supervisor Matt Gonzalez carried a resolution to prohibit a sensible right-turn from Market Street onto the new freeway ramp.
Since then the city has spent thousands of dollars and newspapers have spilled gallons of ink on this bogus issue. I even saw an item about it on Channel 7 TV the other day. Though both the SF Bicycle Coalition and the article below refer to 13 "collisions" at that intersection since the revamped intersection was opened in September, 2005, there is a suspcious lack of analysis of that number. Did these accidents involve cyclists? How many of these accidents had anything to do with the allegedly dangerous right turn? How does that accident total compare with other busy intersections, like the one at nearby Market and Van Ness?
And the official Most Dangerous Intersection in the city is at Octavia and Oak, which had 14 injury collisions in 2006 alone, as opposed to the 13 total for the more than two years that the new Market/Octavia intersection has been open.
What this really demonstrates is the ability of the SF Bicycle Coalition to create a synthetic sense of emergency to continue to drive, so to speak, its anti-car agenda in San Francisco, enlisting our political leadership and a credulous media in its ongoing jihad against motor vehicles in the city.
The SF Examiner
One of the most dangerous intersections in The City may become equipped with an automated camera that would catch motorists who make an illegal right turn, much like cameras throughout The City that nab red-light runners. A bill by Assemblymember Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, would allow The City to post an automated camera at the intersection of Octavia Boulevard and Market Street. Since the intersection opened in 2005 after the Central Freeway was torn down, 13 people have been hit, according to Supervisor Bevan Dufty, whose district includes the intersection. In 2007 alone, at least 30 pedestrians have died in one of the deadliest years for city strollers. Last year, a truck carrying cement made an illegal turn at the intersection and hit Margaret Timbrell. Timbrell survived the collision but sustained 24 broken bones throughout her body, a collapsed lung and fluid in her chest cavity. The intersection has undergone several safety improvements since. The city placed extra signage at the corner and installed plastic dividers to discourage people from making a right turn off Market Street onto the freeway. Leah Shahum, director of The City’s Bicycle Coalition, said officials have had to make many late improvements because planners didn’t realize how dangerous the intersection, which is the entrance and exit to U.S. Highway 101, would be. “We didn’t get it exactly right,” she said. Installing the camera requires approval from the state Senate and the governor. It might not actually start taking pictures until 2009, but Ma said the improvement is much needed. “We have done as much as we can here in The City to try and prevent people from taking the right turn, but it is still one of the most dangerous intersections in this city,” she said. San Francisco has become a camera-rich city in recent years. In addition to dozens of cameras installed in high-crime areas, The City currently uses 23 red-light cameras to bust drivers who blow through intersections. Muni is planning to put cameras in the front of buses to catch motorists who double park on The City’s thoroughfares in legislation also authored by Ma. State law is unclear about which specific violations can be enforced by an automated camera. The existing law implies that cameras are meant to catch motorists who run a red light, but the Octavia Boulevard camera would enforce an illegal right turn.