Crash spotlights Octavia and Market intersection 

After a 28-year-old bicyclist was struck and severely injured by a driver making an illegal right-hand turn at an intersection near a freeway onramp, city officials and local advocates want the City Attorney’s Office to look into better signage and photo enforcement cameras at the intersection.

The bicyclist, Margaret Timbrell, is still in an intensive care unit at San Francisco General Hospital, suffering from 24 broken bones throughout her body, a collapsed lung and fluid in her chest cavity after a Ford pickup truck loaded with cement bags hit her at the intersection of Octavia Boulevard and Market Street at 8:25 a.m. Monday morning, police Sgt.Neville Gittens said.

It could be weeks before Timbrell recovers.

According to Gittens, the 31-year-old driver of the truck wasn’t aware that he hit Timbrell and drove from the scene. He was later pulled over at the Cesar Chavez exit and cited for making an illegal right-hand turn, Gittens said.

Bicycle Coalition program director Andy Thornley said he will join a protest at the intersection this morning, where concerned members from the pedestrian and bicycle communities will perform a crossing guard operation to bring attention to the problem.

"Since The City can’t control motorists making that turn and knocking people down, we’re going to wear yellow vests and bring stop signs to make it safe. We are trying to bring attention to the fact that citizens should have to be their own crossing guards on The City’s main and pedestrian and bicycle street," Thornley said.

The intersection is at the mouth of U.S. Highway 101 and was part of the central freeway project that opened on Sept. 9, 2005. Although making a right-hand turn during the intersection’s red light is illegal, many drivers make the turn anyway.

There have been two reported collisions involving cyclists and six total collisions at the intersection through June of 2006 — but according to Maggie Lynch, spokeswoman for the MTA, there may be many more that have gone unreported.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who went to visit Timbrell, a San Francisco resident, in the hospital, said he thinks the number of accidents reported at the intersection is a "significant undercount" based on what he has heard from others. He has asked for better signage as well as the City Attorney’s Office to look into placing photo enforcement cameras at the intersection.

"We’ve been fortunate there haven’t been more serious injuries, but we can’t afford to wait for something worse to happen. People need to be aware they can’t make that right turn," said Dufty, who called for a hearing about the intersection for the Feb. 13 meeting of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority Plans and Programs Committee.

Burt Hill, chairman of the Bicycle Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations for improved transit access for bicycles to the Board of Supervisors, invited MTA and SFPD representatives to Thursday’s committee meeting, hoping to inspire change for the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

"They ignore the sign or don’t see it, and frankly, anything they could do — even a flashing sign — would be an improvement. We need the police to enforce this," Hill said, adding that he has almost been hit himself at the intersection about four times.

Before Timbrell was hit, she was one of many who used the intersection daily to get to work, her mother, Ruth Timbrell, said.

"Margaret biked to work every day — it’s a shame. She’s making improvements, stabilizing somewhat, which is good. She sat up today. I was worried she was going to be bedridden for a long time," Ruth Timbrell said.

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