Old 06-18-07, 10:51 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Peoples' Republic of SF
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Another cyclist hit at Market + Octavia (SF)

The intersection of Market + Octavia is a real nightmare with an interesting past. Originally, the Central Freeway passed over Market street at that spot and deposited cars a few blocks into town. The freeway was damaged in the 1989 earthquake, and then partially reconstructed a few blocks back. The partial reconstruction was then extended into a ramp which terminated in a street-level 'boulevard' at Market street. This boulevard (Octavia) extends into town a few blocks on the original freeway right-of-way. Though it's nice-looking and definitely an improvement cityscape-wise, it's been a major accident spot because it dumps freeway traffic right into the city, and drivers are always taking dangerous shortcuts around it. It's also one of the worst spots to get right-hooked. The right turn from Market street onto the freeway is illegal, but drivers do it all the time, and cyclists are always getting hit. Last night's incident was probably the 3rd right hook at that spot this year (that's been reported).

The story is better though, as it involves JAMitude to an incredible degree. The illegal right-turning driver was stopped by a witness and tried to drive away. They then struggled for control of the car, which overturned ON the witness. After more onlookers righted the car, he drove away! Incredible. However, the idiot was caught and is now facing felony charges.

The CBS5 news story on it is one of the better pieces of reporting I've seen about a bicycling accident. It explains exactly why people keep getting hit at the intersection. As you can see, the city (feebly) erected a few bollards to shelter the bike lane from the regular lane next to it, but they've all been bent by drivers in a hurry (I have seen cars, tires squealing, hit 3 of these bollards making a quick right turn). The city for a while had targeted enforcement going on at the intersection and was ticketing drivers who made the turn, but it doesn't make up for a bad design. What were they thinking?

In any case, it's not impossible to cycle safely at this intersection. I always merge into the right lane a block before Octavia. I've never gotten a honk for doing it, and I hope to see more cyclists taking care of their safety and TAKING THE LANE at this dangerous intersection. As long as drivers are physically able to make right turns here (and they will, as long as this remains a street-level intersection), cyclists riding in the bike lane will continue to be right-hooked. This is, plain and simple, an example of where the law runs head-on into practicality. It's illegal to make a right turn across a bike lane, but entirely too enticing for entirely too many drivers. The CBS5 reporter (I encourage you to watch the video) seems downright astonished at the idiocy of this arrangement. I'm not anti-bike lane but this is certainly fuel for critics and a good example of where segregating cyclists to the right of traffic doesn't work.

Last edited by tehdely; 06-18-07 at 10:56 PM.
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