City seeks waiver for dicey crossings

The City will argue before a Superior Court judge today that two dangerous intersections should be exempted from an injunction that has stalled implementation of San Francisco’s bike plan.

Over the past five years, there have been nearly 30 collisions involving cars and pedestrians or bicyclists at the intersections of Fell Street and Masonic Avenue and at Market and Octavia streets — a total that far exceeds the amount of similar accidents in other parts of The City, according to a brief filed by the City Attorney’s Office.

Planning officials from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency are seeking to add a lane on Fell Street that is controlled by a dedicated turn signal, an improvement aimed at cutting down the number of collisions involving cars turning left onto Masonic Avenue.

SFMTA officials are also seeking to narrow a lane on Market Street as a way to reduce the number of collisions at Octavia Boulevard.

The SFMTA hasbeen unable to implement safety changes due to a court ruling that resulted from a lawsuit filed by a citizens group in 2006 that claimed The City acted hastily in approving a plan to add 34 new miles of bike lanes within city limits.

A Superior Court judge sided with the group and ordered a freeze on all physical implementations until a new environmental impact report of the bike plan was completed.

City planners have projected the bike plan’s EIR will be completed by summer 2009.

Today, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter Busch will hear the motion, which also includes a procedural clause to make similar minor traffic improvements in the future, according to City Attorney spokesman Matt Dorsey.

Nathan Ballard, spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the mayor “fully supports seeking a court order to make critical safety improvements on our streets a reality.”

Rob Anderson of the Citizens for Adequate Review, the group that filed suit against The City, said the request for an exemption is for a “synthetic emergency that is politically based.”

wreisman@examiner.com 

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