Camera installed to address safety at dangerous Market and Octavia intersection

Mike Koozmin/the S.F. ExaminerA person in a wheelchair was struck at this intersection at Market Street and Octavia Boulevard early Monday.

Drivers tempted to make an illegal right turn at Market Street and Octavia Boulevard onto U.S. Highway 101 may want to think twice.

A camera being installed this week at the intersection rated The City's most dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists will document violations and lead to warnings for violators starting Nov. 1. After 30 days, a $238 fine will be issued along with a point on the violator's driver's license.

It's the latest of a slew of safety measures since 2005, when the redesigned intersection opened and collisions began to rise. Between 2005 and 2011, 56 collisions occurred there, including 13 in 2011, according to a San Francisco Collision Report.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said the number of accident reports led him to keep pushing a bill to allow the automated traffic enforcement system at the intersection. After the bill was vetoed in 2010, Ammiano asked the state attorney general for a legal opinion. In December 2012, the bill was approved.

“It was very frustrating but we hung in there, again because the incidents just continued,” Ammiano said. “We hope this will complete the effort to stop people from being hit.”

In 2011, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency installed concrete barriers, extra signage and signals to discourage illegal turns. Measures added this year include green-backed shared bike markings, sharrows with dashed lane markings through the intersection for bicyclists and upgraded marked crosswalks for pedestrians.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said her group and others in The City have advocated for the safety camera since 2007, when an original bill from then-Assemblywoman Fiona Ma failed.

The long-overdue installation at the intersection “really shines a light on how slowly The City is moving to make improvements on known danger areas,” Shahum claimed.

“Our concern is that we have literally dozens and dozens of locations that are similarly dangerous that are not getting nearly as much attention from The City,” she said, pointing out recent fatalities in the South of Market area.

The camera is intended to address the Market and Octavia situation and is not an option currently being considered for other problematic intersections, said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.

Still, he said, “we'll always look for ways to make our streets as safe as possible for everyone.”

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