According to the San Francisco Mass Transit Authority over 70% of severe and fatal traffic accidents in San Francisco occur on just 12% of our city streets. This “High-Injury Network” was identified as part of San Francisco’s commitment to its Vision Zero policy designed to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by 2024.
City planners took a look at years of historical data and plotted individual accidents along maps to identify the most dangerous streets in San Francisco. Not coincidentally, many of those same thoroughfares are also the most dangerous streets for cyclists in San Francisco as well.
The Four Most Dangerous Streets for Bicyclists in San Francisco
Historically Market Street is one of the most dangerous in the city for cyclists and pedestrians. In just the last two years there have been nearly 150 collisions here. Thankfully, San Francisco has made Market Street a priority and has fast-tracked the re-engineering of Market to make it much safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Improvements include safety pylons that separate the bike lane and raised bike lanes along certain stretches making collisions less-likely. It remains to be seen if the changes will have the desired effects but seeing the city spend money where it can make the most impact is heartwarming for any pedal-power enthusiast.
In a classic case of too much of a good thing Mission Street has become ground zero for a significant number of bicycle accidents in San Francisco. Why? Because it has also become a haven for cyclists, drawing more bikes than any other street in the city. The MTA says that bicycle traffic along sections of Mission Street is up 75% since 2006 meaning there are, on average, 300 more bicycles per day sharing the road with motorists and pedestrians. When you place more and more vehicles (both pedal-powered and motorized) in a stretch of road that wasn’t designed for such volume and hasn’t been significantly redesigned for years, you’re inviting accidents.
The SFPD responded to over 70 bike crashes on Valencia in just the past two years. The street is so dangerous because, like Mission, it exudes a draw for cyclists in San Francisco. This popularity is, perhaps ironically, due to the safety features already installed there including clearly demarcated bike lanes. However, judging from the number of bicycle accidents along Valencia more needs to be done.
The main north-south throughway into the heart of the city, Polk Street has also seen a significantly increased volume of bicycle traffic, outpacing ridership increases (roughly 3% per year). It’s not surprising then that it is also the fourth most dangerous street for bicyclists in San Francisco with a reported 53 bicycle accidents since 2006.
Pinpointing the Most Dangerous Intersections in San Francisco
As the SFist reported, the driving app Quartz has used similar data (collected between 2005 and 2012) to plot the most dangerous intersections in the United States. Below you’ll find those specific to San Francisco.
- South Van Ness Avenue and Mission Street – a sprawling intersection with 17 lanes of traffic and 7 crosswalks.
- Potrero Avenue and 16th Street – Sitting at the periphery of the busy Mission District, 9 lanes of traffic converge here.
- Octavia Boulevard and Market Street – Octavia essentially becomes an on-ramp for the 101 freeway resulting in over 40 crashes six of which were classified as “severe.”
Ride Safe and Protect Yourself
It’s important to keep in mind that while increased ridership is linked to the increase in bicycle accidents in San Francisco it is not the root cause. In fact, in 65% of all automobile-involved collisions the driver is at fault.
As a bicycle accident lawyer I see the results of these horrific crashes every day and know that getting victims the financial support they need can be a daunting task. The way our city is designed and the automobile-centric mentality San Franciscans have developed make catching a break very difficult for bicyclists. If you find yourself in need of legal assistance, go here for help by getting a FREE online bicycle accident case evaluation.