Another Bicyclist Injured at Market/Octavia; Driver Not Cited

2124046450_d89da2d544.jpgFlickr photo: sfbike

San Francisco’s most dangerous intersection for bicyclists was the
scene of yet another crash this morning, caused by a driver making an
illegal right turn onto the freeway on southbound Market Street at
Octavia Boulevard. 

San Francisco Police Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said it
happened around 8:25 a.m. The driver called 911 to report that she hit
a 29-year-old San Francisco woman riding a bicycle.  The bicyclist was
taken to San Francisco General Hospital with injuries to her face and
was expected to be released.

"I
don’t know the extent of the facial
injuries but it’s non-life threatening and she was able to talk to the
officers," said Tomioka. Her bike was "taken into police custody" and
will remain at the Mission station until she’s able to pick it up.

When asked if the driver, an unidentified San Francisco woman,
had been cited, Tomioka said she had not, "but that doesn’t mean that
she won’t be cited. She may be issued a citation at a later date." She added, "In this
case, it was the driver who actually called it in and took
responsibility."

But why wasn’t she cited on the spot, if she was the one who called 911 and admitted to making an illegal right turn? 

"The
officer wasn’t on the scene to witness the accident. And sometimes
they’ll look for supporting evidence, interview witnesses more
thoroughly, then determine if a citation is in fact appropriate."

According
to Streetsblog San Francisco commenter Whit, there were numerous
witnesses "waiting around to speak with the police."

The
fact that the driver hasn’t yet been cited is disturbing to Andy
Thornley, the
program director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, but he isn’t
surprised. When a bicyclist was severely injured at the intersection by a truck driver who took off but was later stopped, Thornley said police refused to charge
him with a hit-and-run.

"Everyone
was appalled by that, the fact that you could hurt someone so badly
with a careless act of your truck and the worst thing that would happen
is a $120 ticket for making an illegal turn,"he said. "It woke a lot of people up to the whole
notion of traffic justice and the huge disconnect between acts of
carelessness with a motor vehicle and the consequences, which are
almost none."

Streetsblog San Francisco has requested numbers from the
SFPD on the amount of citations that have been issued to illegal right turn drivers at Market/Octavia
since 2005, when Market Street reopened after a portion of the Central
Freeway was removed.

As we’ve written many times, Market/Octavia is ground zero
in the debate over bicycle safety in the city. The MTA now says at least 18
crashes have been reported at the intersection
in the last three years between cyclists and drivers making illegal
right turns onto Highway 101.

When the MTA Board backed the removal of the bike lane in response to safety concerns in January, the SFBC, along with some high-profile politicians, rallied to save it, arguing it would make the intersection more dangerous. In the end, a judge refused
to grant a modification to the bike injunction that would have, at the time, allowed
MTA engineers to merge bicycle and motor vehicle traffic. 

MTA spokesperson Judson True said the plan for a shared lane is what remains on the table and will be reconsidered when the injunction is lifted sometime in June.

"Our
big hope continues to be changing the streetscape to make the bike lane
more evident, coloring the bike lane, raising the bike lane as it
passes through the intersection," said Thornley. "It’s much too open.
It looks much too much like a freeway on ramp and not enough like a
city intersection."

Thornley would also like to see camera
enforcement at the intersection, something that requires state
legislation. A bill that would have done just that failed last year in
the Legislature because of opposition from State Senator Leland Yee.

Updated at 8:20 p.m. Special thanks to bicyclist Ted Goldberg at KCBS for the original tip on this story. 

  • Jerry Berbiar

    It’s insane that tens of thousands of cars a day are diverted 1/2 mile both entering and exiting the freeway from Octavia Blvd. How much does that contribute to wasting gas & global warming.
    Bicyclists couldn’t compromise and move a bike lane one block West on Market St., then use Valencia St.’s well marked bike lanes. No other city would permit such idiocy.
    Now we have an occasional understandably frustrated driver making a bad decision to illegally enter the freeway from Market and added danger to cyclists.
    Why not just compromise & move the damn bike lane? I respect bicyclists and am extremely careful on the road and when I’m opening my car door. Why can’t bicyclists have the same respect for motorists?-Jerry

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