A 54-year-old San Francisco woman was sent to the hospital with life-threatening injuries this morning after being hit by a driver at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street near San Francisco City Hall. The victim, whose name has not yet been released, was undergoing surgery this afternoon.
The crash occurred around 6:30 a.m. today, according to SFPD Lt. Lyn Tomioka. It was "not a criminal incident," she said, though the exact location of the crash and the direction of the vehicle and pedestrian were not yet available. The driver, a male who remained at the scene, was not arrested.
Given the scant details, pedestrian advocates were hesitant to point blame for the crash, which occurred several blocks south of where the Van Ness Avenue double-fine zone begins, but expressed concern with the existing crosswalks at the intersection. That portion of Van Ness Avenue was repaved in the last few weeks, but the intersection’s crosswalks were not reconfigured.
Manish Champsee, president of Walk SF, said the repaving was a missed chance to improve the intersection for pedestrians by installing high-visibility yellow zebra crossings, which the MTA has been hesitant to do outside school zones, where such crossings are required by state law.
"The Draft Better Streets Plan argued against general use of zebra crosswalks, arguing that they are several times more expensive than stop lines," said Tom Radulovich, executive director of Livable City. "This makes little sense; even at several times the cost, painting ladder crosswalks is a minuscule cost compared to other road improvements. They also argued that frequent use will dull their effectiveness. They, however, don’t provide any documentation of this, nor make this argument for any other traffic safety device."
MTA spokesperson Judson True confirmed that MTA prioritizes zebra crossings for school zones because of their greater maintenance expense. He also pointed out that the MTA, DPW and Caltrans have installed bulbouts at two of the corners at the intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street within the last five years, as well as on many of Van Ness Avenue’s intersections.
True said the MTA will review what happened in today’s crash. "We’ll take a look at the police report and see if we can understand what happened."
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding this morning’s crash, the intersection contains many of the usual ingredients for danger that are found in many spots along Van Ness Avenue: drivers traveling at high speeds, and a wide boulevard with short crossing times.