Even the most well-intentioned acts can have negative consequences. Case in point, Octavia Boulevard in Hayes Valley. Prior to 2005 Hayes Valley was, in the words of Bay Citizen reporter Zusha Elinson, “a hooker haven beneath the Central Freeway”. This all changed when the city replaced the overpass with Octavia Boulevard. With trees and a park the area became positively residential. Except that its not. It is a busy on-ramp for the near by freeway.
This combination, a residential spin on a congested, fast-moving, freeway onramp, has turned out to be dangerous. The intersection has the (dis)honor of being San Francisco’s most dangerous with 30 injury collisions in the last three years. In the last year alone the intersection was the site of 13 collisions involving injuries.
The real kicker is that 9 of those 13 crashes involved cyclists. With approximately 63,000 vehicles using the intersection each day, the danger to pedestrians and cyclists can be very real. Cars idle in the cross-walks, make illegal turns, get frustrated with the congestion and drive recklessly or simply treat it like the freeway it used to be. Rahman Law PC has successfully handled cases in which bicyclists haven been injured by vehicles on Octavia Boulevard. The majority of such injuries occur when drivers make an illegal right turn onto Market from Octavia.
A study by the SF County Transportation Authority recommends “improving bikeways and crosswalks and reducing car traffic by updating public transit and using congestion pricing, a system of electronic tolls for crowded streets.” It has also been suggested that the city install a camera to catch those vehicles that make an illegal right turn on Market. Whatever the solutions turn out to be, most people would agree that Octavia boulevard is an improvement to the overpass. Few would argue that it has not improved and rejuvenated the area. However, the city now needs to protect its cyclists and pedestrians and take measures to make Octavia safer.