SF considers boosting enforcement against drivers clogging intersections

San Francisco may get more serious about citing drivers who block intersections as The City is looking to revive a “don't block the box” campaign.

Supervisors say stepped-up enforcement is needed due to vehicles illegally clogging up intersections, particularly in gridlock-heavy South of Market, jeopardizing the safety of pedestrians and bicycles and exacerbating traffic congestion.

“Thirty years ago, San Francisco had a public don't block the box campaign with traffic enforcement targeted at the worst gridlocked intersections. It has dissipated,” Supervisor Jane Kim said.

A pilot program during the past three months enforced don't block the box during six times at the intersections of Second and Bryant streets and Main and Harrison streets. Citations for blocking the intersection are $103, but if turning is involved, they increase to $110.

The pilot cost the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency $26,981, according to data presented during the Board of Supervisors Land Use and Economic Development Committee hearing Monday. That included four parking control officers at $90 an hour for 120 hours. Motorists received 95 tickets when citations were issued during two days of the pilot. When there's enforcement, the agency says incidents of clogged intersections went down by 82 percent.

But with the pilot concluded, agency officials say they may implement a permanent program in December. One recommendation from the pilot is to have don't block the box enforcement Thursdays and Fridays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at three problem intersections with two parking control officers stationed at each one.

Supervisor Scott Wiener said consistent traffic enforcement is key, but added there simply needs to be fewer cars on the road to relieve congestion.

“The gridlock in the South of Market is horrible now,” Wiener said. “It's just going to get worse unless we take very aggressive steps, and those steps have to include having fewer cars in the area.”

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