SF transportation agency wants to expand 'No Turn On Red' restrictions in city

Lyanne Melendez Image
Saturday, March 16, 2024
SFMTA wants to expand 'No Turn On Red' restrictions in city
On Friday, March 22, the public will be asked to weigh in on a proposal to add "No Turn On Red" signs in parts of San Francisco.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Friday, March 22, the public will be asked to weigh in on a proposal to add "No Turn On Red" signs in parts of San Francisco. The new restrictions would be implemented in the downtown area, including intersections located on the north and south part of Market Street.

Since 2021, San Francisco's Tenderloin District has had more than 50 intersections with No Turn On Red restrictions.

One year after it was implemented, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency found that 92% of drivers were complying with the law.

So, the city thought: why not apply those restrictions in other neighborhoods?

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"We are in the process of expanding prohibitions on turns on red into pedestrian-heavy areas like downtown, Union Square, and that project will start this year," said Ricardo Olea with SFMTA in early January.

That plan has already started and now they're considering expanding the No Turn On Red restrictions even further to include 200 more intersections north and south of Market street, pending public hearings next week.

"The plan at this point is not to make San Francisco be like New York City. We're not at the point where every single intersection in San Francisco should have a No Turn On Red, " said Olea, referring to New York City, which does not allow for Right-On-Red turns at any intersection.

"We want to have people understand when they are going through the Tenderloin or drive through heavy commercial areas, 'Oh, the reason that this sign is there is because of pedestrian safety,'" he said.

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Traffic safety has been a huge challenge for San Francisco. Ten years ago, the city vowed to get to zero traffic deaths by 2024, and here we are. And so far this year, there have been seven traffic deaths, the last one on March 2 -- a pedestrian killed by a hit-and-run driver in the Tenderloin, even though the speed limit there has now been reduced to 20 miles per hour and no left turns are allowed on one-way streets.

"If there is no enforcement, you can change all the rules you want to and no one will take them seriously, so we do need traffic enforcement, and we need traffic enforcement of speeding, running red lights," said San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

We cruised around the Tenderloin to see if police were actively stopping drivers for traffic violations. Instead, what we found were police searching a car for possible firearms.

"They have other challenges. They are dealing with violent crimes and dealing with fentanyl sales, and they are dealing with a lot of challenges in the Tenderloin. But the officers do a great job on traffic enforcement to the extent that they can," said Assistant Police Chief David Lazar.

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He said most of the citations have been done by the California Highway Patrol. Beginning last year, it agreed to assist SFPD by enforcing all traffic violations in the Tenderloin and surrounding areas.

Next year, the city will install 33 speeding cameras throughout the city in an effort to minimize the number of traffic deaths.

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