San Francisco streets are gaining national notoriety as a dangerous place for pedestrians and bikers. Yet, reports indicate that one of the city’s intersections is more dangerous than others: the crossing between Market Street and Octavia Boulevard. Using its new bicycle accident tracking technology, the Bay Citizen determined that this intersection has witnessed more bike accidents than any other in the city during the past two years.
Bikers, motorists, and analysts generally agree that the majority of the accidents which occur at this intersection are caused by drivers who make an illegal right turn onto the onramp off Market Street. It is illegal to make this turn primarily because of the popular bike lane which runs down Market Street. As drivers turn right, they often fail to notice an oncoming biker and cause a collision.
The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency (SFMTA) is well aware of this problem and has made continual safety improvements at the intersection over the past 5 years. These improvements include adding multiple signs reminding drivers not to make the dangerous right turn and emphasizing the correct entrance to the highway. The city also added protective pylons to the bike lane in 2007, and later physically separated the lane from other traffic with a series of concrete islands.
Yet, the Bay Citizen’s data indicates that these precautions have not reduced the number of bike accidents which occur at this cross street. The Bay Citizen Bike Accident Tracker claims that there were 14 bike accidents at this intersection over the past two years, and 17 between 2006 and 2008.
Biker organizations, state politicians, and government agencies all continue to propose solutions to this ongoing problem. Ensuring biker safety along Market Street is especially important in light of SFMTA reports indicating a 50 to 70 percent rise in bike traffic along the road since 2006.
Source: Bay Citizen, “The Intersection from Biking Hell.” Zusha Elinson, 28 February 2011.