Advocates still pursuing Market, Octavia plan despite veto

While a bill to increase traffic enforcement at a notoriously dangerous intersection on Market Street was vetoed by the governor Wednesday night, advocates for the plan said they will continue to pursue it while also investigating other safety upgrades at the site.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a former San Francisco supervisor, authored legislation allowing for camera enforcement on a local traffic law that prohibits cars from taking a right-hand turn from Market Street to Octavia Boulevard.

The intersection, site of the former Central Freeway, is the frequent scene of traffic accidents, which often involve right-turning vehicles colliding with pedestrians and cyclists. Earlier this year, a man was killed by a hit-and-run driver, and two weeks ago, a woman was seriously injured in a similar incident. From 2004 to 2008, there were 18 cyclists and pedestrians were hit by cars at the intersection, the highest incident rate of any corner in The City.

In vetoing the bill, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger offered a terse explanation that it was “unnecessary.”

Ammiano spokesman Quintin Mecke said advocates will continue their efforts to get the bill enacted, particularly since Schwarzenegger is termed out at the end of this year. In the meantime, he said, Ammiano’s office will work with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to come up with short-term plans to mitigate the dangers at the intersection. Along with determining if state legislation is actually necessary — the intersection is near a state freeway, so its jurisdiction is questionable — Ammiano’s office will work with the SFMTA on possible infrastructure upgrades, Mecke said.

Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk San Francisco, said additional enforcement is also necessary.

“This is really a citywide problem,” said Stampe. “There is not significant enforcement on car traffic that endangers pedestrians.”

The SFMTA said it is exploring moving ahead with the installation of the device.

“The governor’s veto message indicates that the installation would be allowed under current law,” said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose. “While there is still some question regarding what that actually means given differing interpretations of the law, we will explore all options to ensure that this intersection is a safe as possible for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Risks of the road

Collisions in the most dangerous intersections 2004-08
        
Intersection     Involving bikesand Pedestrians    Total
1. Market and Octavia    18    29
2. Market and Gough    12    38
3. Duboce and Valencia    11    22
4. Market and Valencia    11    16
5. Oak-Van Ness-Market    8    19

Source: SFCTA

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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