Over the past few years the intersection of Market Street and Octavia Boulevard has developed a reputation as one of the most dangerous intersections in San Francisco. The majority of accidents at the intersection are bicycle accidents, prompting the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to pressure local officials to step up their traffic enforcement at this intersection.
The intersection of Market and Octavia saw 30 traffic accidents resulting in injuries between 2009 and 2011, making it the most dangerous intersection in the city.
One of the proposals to improve the intersection’s safety entailed adding a traffic camera, which the San Francisco City Attorney claimed could not be done without legislative permission. The Bike Coalition began to lobby at the state level and city officials were recently given permission by the California Attorney General to install cameras at the intersection.
The push for cameras occurred after the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency launched a study into what was causing so many accidents at this intersection. The SFMTA study found that the primary crash pattern at the intersection was bicyclists being run over by eastbound Market Street cars making illegal right turns to the freeway on-ramp.
The bicycle accidents were still occurring despite many engineering changes at the intersection such the 2005 Octavia Boulevard project redesign. Crosswalk markings and a second “No Left Turn” sign were also added to the intersection, but drivers continued to make hazardous illegal right-turns.
San Francisco traffic safety officials and the Bike Coalition agreed that cameras were next logical improvement to prevent Octavia Boulevard bicycle accidents. The SFMTA was recently given permission to install traffic enforcement cameras by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.
Harris provided a lengthy legal brief to Assemblyman Tom Ammiano which concluded that the city could legally install automated photographic traffic enforcement systems at intersections where drivers are required to stop.
“We are excited about this long-awaited decision that will make San Francisco’s most dangerous intersection safer,” said Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the 12,000-member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “Over the past ten years, more than 50 people walking and biking have been injured at Market and Octavia. We urge the City to install the crucial safety improvement quickly and help ensure the safety of people walking and biking through this intersection.”
Source: SF Bicycle Coalition, “New Ruling Allows for Camera Enforcement at Market and Octavia Intersection,” Jan. 4, 2012