Speed bumps installed to stop sideshows in San Francisco

Speed bumps and plastic dots are being installed to curb sideshows at several neighborhood intersections in San Francisco.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has seven pilot locations where various techniques are being used to prevent stunt driving, donuts and speeding.

At the intersection of Plymouth Avenue and Sadowa Street in the city’s Oceanview neighborhood, newly installed yellow and black striped bumps make it difficult for cars to skid in circles.

The intersection is just a couple blocks from interstate 280, and a hot spot for stunt drivers – until now.

"I’ve seen two people come and try to do it still but no way," said resident Jeanne-Renee McKneely. "Unless they want to flip."

City leaders said since the pandemic began, sideshows have increased in frequency sparking the need for ways to battle intersection takeovers.

Just last weekend, there were several reported stunt-driving incidents, including one where a person was struck by a car in the South Beach neighborhood.

San Francisco Police Department is investigating the incidents. No arrests have been made.

"Besides creating safety problem, it also creates significant maintenance costs for us," said SFMTA Executive Director Jeffrey Tumlin. "Every time we have to go and restripe crosswalks in an intersection that costs us about $5,000. So what we’re trying to do is find low-cost solutions that reduce exhibition driving behavior while improving safety for everyone on the road."

At Alemany Blvd. and Geneva Avenue, there is a pattern of X’s marked by botts dots, which are an alternative to speed bumps to deter donuts.

"They’re just small bumps," said neighbor Joe Bylsma. "I don’t know if they’re actually going to work. I hope they do."

SFMTA said it doesn’t want to create hazards for people walking or biking. And it doesn’t want to cause delays for emergency services, which is why some of the sideshow deterrents are barely noticeable, including corner bump outs.

The costs for any of the intersection upgrades range in cost from $5,000 to $30,000, the agency said.

"It’s not cheap but it’s cheaper than doing repeated repairs every single month," Tumlin said. "What we’re trying to do is implement the simplest approach that actually solves the problem."

Based on what kinds of bumps or pavement changes work best, SFMTA plans to add the more of the devices to other intersections.

San Francisco is not alone in these efforts.

A pilot project in Oakland is targeting 10 spots that police said are a problem. Posts are popping up in centerlines and more botts dots getting installed to prevent donuts at intersections notorious for sideshows.

That includes 42nd Ave. under I-880 known as "the Pit" and the intersection of High Street and MacArthur Ave.

Down in San Jose, 10 intersections are getting treatments to prevent reckless driving and illegal street racing. It will include devices like chatter bars and raised pavement markers, the city said.

Still, some don’t think these road changes will make a huge difference.

"This is not going to stop a sideshow," said Nicholes Lewis of San Francisco. "You need full police enforcement for that."

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at brooks.jarosz@fox.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU