Cyclists Protest to Demand Safer Streets
January 26, 2007 10:47 PM
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition led a small demonstration on the corner of Octavia and Market streets Friday morning, urging changes be made to make the busy intersection safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
The rally was organized in response to a hit-and-run accident earlier in the week that left a female cyclist in critical condition after being struck by a truck making an illegal right turn onto the Central Street freeway on-ramp from Market Street.
“What we want to do today is raise awareness and visibility and to show that this crosswalk is pedestrian space and demand that the city make this intersection safe for everyone,” said SFBC Executive Director Leah Shahum, welcoming the crowd.
A group of about 100 cyclists, neighbors and supporters, including City Supervisors Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi and Bevan Dufty, held up signs and donned yellow caution tape and orange safety vests. They blocked the pedestrian crosswalk every time the walk sign turned green during the morning rush hour to prevent drivers from making the illegal turn.
The intersection has become notoriously dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians endangered by motorists making the illegal right turn from Market Street onto the Highway 101 on-ramp in order to avoid the legal entrance that is blocks away on Gough Street.
“Most of the time I’ve come in this intersection I’ve seen someone make an illegal turn so it’s definitely an issue,” said Daly, who rode his bike to the demonstration from his home just minutes away.
The SFBC has a long list of recommendations for the city to improve the safety of the intersection that will clearly denote pedestrian and cyclist space. Possible changes include raising the crosswalk and bike lanes to make the pedestrian and cyclist right of way more visible to motorists and coloring or stamping the bike lane with “sharrows” or bicycle markings as in other major bicycling cities like New York, Chicago and Portland.
Demonstrators also urged the San Francisco Police Department to bring hit-and-run charges against the driver of the truck that hit 28-year-old Margaret Timbrell, who is now recuperating. The driver, who claims that he did not see Timbrell, has not been charged.
“The message being sent is that drivers can get away with hitting cyclists and pedestrians and that is not OK,” said Shahum. “We are urging the city to address the problem of this known dangerous intersection.”
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