The future looks a little bit safer for the city's most dangerous intersection.
After years of failed legislative efforts, Attorney General Kamala Harris finally approved the installation of a red light traffic camera to catch illegal drivers at the corner of Market and Octavia streets. Thirty injury collisions occurred at the intersection between 2009 and 2011, according to the SFMTA 2010-2011 Collisions Report.
San Francisco officials have been working to address the problem for years. In 2007, then-assemblywoman Fiona Ma proposed an unsuccessful bill for a camera. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano proposed a similar measure three years later, but then-Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger vetoed it.
"This bill is unnecessary," he stated. Ammiano requested a legal opinion from the City Attorney's Office, and the bill was sent up to Harris' office for a final verdict. After months of review, she approved it last Thursday.
“This has been a hot mess,” Ammiano told the San Francisco Examiner. “I’m just glad it’s finally over, because this camera will really help reduce fatalities and injuries.”
Cycling advocates applauded the move. “We are excited about this long-awaited decision that will make San Francisco’s most dangerous intersection safer,” said San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Leah Shahum in a statement. “Over the past ten years, more than 50 people walking and biking have been injured at Market and Octavia."
Market and Octavia became a site of danger beginning in 2005, when the city's Central Freeway opened. Illegal right turns across the bike lane and crosswalk onto the freeway caused the highest number of accidents between 2009 and 2011, according to the SFMTA Collisions Report. Concrete barriers and extra signals were introduced to prevent further accidents, but the efforts proved unsuccessful.
The new camera's installation could bolster San Francisco's reputation as a frontrunner in photo enforcement. Currently, 25 intersections are monitored as such. Last year, a camera was installed at the intersection at Fell and Masonic, formerly known as the third most dangerous intersection.
Officials say the light at Market and Octavia could create a standard for traffic legislation across the city.
"This is great news for safer walking on Market Street," Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk San Francisco, told the SFBC. "This sets a good precedent for smart, targeted enforcement of traffic laws in the city’s most dangerous locations, to prevent more people from getting hit by cars and seriously hurt or even killed.”