City may widen bike lane at Market and Octavia 

After numerous collisions and at least one serious injury to a bicyclist at the Market Street and Octavia Boulevard intersection, city officials are considering widening the bike lane and installing a 3-foot island to block cars from hitting two-wheeled travelers.

The intersection sits at the mouth of the U.S. Highway 101 onramp, which opened in September 2005. Although making right-hand turns at the intersection to get onto the highway is illegal, many cars do it anyway, according to Sgt. Bob Guinan of the San Francisco Police Traffic Division. Since September 2005, there have been six reported bicycle collisions — but advocates say the number is much higher.

The spotlight was put on the intersection when 28-year-old bicyclist Margaret Timbrell was hit and severely injured on Jan. 25 by a truck making an illegal right turn. Timbrell was finally discharged from the hospital last week, but it could be months before she recovers from two punctured lungs and 27 broken bones she suffered during the collision.

Since Timbrell’s accident, safe-hit posts have been installed on the left side of the bicycle lane as a deterrent against cars turning, new signage has been added to warn drivers and police enforcement has been stepped up with the addition of 19 enforcement officers in the area. The Municipal Transportation Agency has plans for more changes, according to chief traffic engineer Jack Fleck.

During a meeting of the San Francisco Transportation Authority Plans and Programs Committee on Tuesday, Fleck presented a $27,000 improvement plan for the intersection that included a 1-foot widening of the bike lane, placement of taller safe-hit posts along the bike lane and a 3-foot island along the bike lane that would block cars from turning onto the highway. Fleck also said six new signs were installed Tuesday.

Another suggestion made during the hearing was to paint the bicycle lane green so that drivers could easily see it, something that has been donein Portland and New York City.

Committee Chairman Bevan Dufty said he is also considering the placement of red light cameras at the intersection.

The committee is set to follow up on Tuesday’s informational hearing in April.

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