Danger at the Corner of Octavia and Market
In 2005, the city of San Francisco tore down a 1.2 mile stretch of the Central Freeway and replaced it with Octavia Boulevard, a bucolic ground level roadway lined with trees and quiet neighborhoods. In the last three years, though, the intersection of Octavia and Market Street has become one of the city’s most heavily traveled and dangerous intersections. Since 2009, there have been more than 30 accidents on the corner. In 2011, there were 13 collisions that resulted in personal injury, with nine of them involving bicycles and bicyclists. Of the 56 accidents at the corner since it was opened, four have involved fatalities. Authorities point to the large numbers of vehicles entering and leaving Highway 101, as well as the heavily used bike lane.
Based on these statistics, city and county officials admit that the intersection may need to be redesigned or reconfigured. With traffic counts in excess of 63,000 per day (getting on and off the freeway), streets in the neighborhood are packed with vehicles most of the day.
Allan Jacobs, a renowned urban planning designer from UC-Berkeley, contends that the project achieved its objective of replacing the freeway with a street that moves vehicles while still creating street life. He attributes some of the challenges people are currently facing to the fact that many measures that would have slowed traffic through the intersection were left out of the project due to compromises with the California Department of Transportation and with the City of San Francisco. He points specifically to plans to narrow the lanes coming off the freeway, and to build a slight uphill approach, both of which were eliminated as the project moved forward.