Driver Sends Woman to Hospital After Crash Near SF City Hall

IMG_1281.jpgThe intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street. Photo: Michael Rhodes

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.

IMG_1265.jpgCars inch across the crosswalk as pedestrians cross on the south side of Van Ness Avenue.
IMG_1229.jpgIn the past half-decade, the MTA has installed bulbouts at two corners of the intersection, along with many other intersections along Van Ness Avenue.

  • Jeffrey W. Baker

    What a ridiculous excuse. I volunteer to personally paint, free of charge, any intersection that the MTA names where they desire a zebra crossing but can’t afford it.

  • Nick

    You know Jeffery, the City has a precedent of allowing private contractors to stripe roadways provided they are doing it for free. Example: Sunset Blvd (as mentioned in this month’s Sunset Beacon newspaper)

    The City uses white zebra crossing in non-school zones where it is needed. What I don’t understand is the cost issue. If the City really is this hard up for money, how can they stripe 74 sharrows on 5th Street only to remove them once the injunction is lifted?

    5th Street gets a bike lane according to the Bike Plan unless there is an unwillingness to go through with the traffic lane removal upon dissolution of the injunction. 74 sharrows is not chump change if you know the unit cost.

  • zsolt

    Oh no, right next to Gavin’s Green Vehicle showcase!

  • Grove Street, as well as McAllister, should also be narrowed in width between Van Ness and Larkin. Why keep the street double-wide for only two blocks? It eats up a tremendous amount of potential sidewalk and park space, and imposes and unnecessary barrier to pedestrians.

    We have long advocated transforming Grove into a pedestrian promenade, with generous, well-lit sidewalks and street trees, connecting the Civic Center BART/Muni station with the Ballet, Symphony and Opera, as a sustainable and urbane alternative to the Performing Arts Garage expansion. The Planning Department and Mayor’s Office ought to get their long-promised Civic Center public space plan underway ASAP.

  • In Oakland last year, somebody did take matters into their own hands and painted a crosswalk at an intersection where there wasn’t one marked: http://www.abetteroakland.com/diy-pedestrian-safety/2008-05-27 A month later, the city spent money to remove it.

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SFPD Seeks Information in Life-Threatening Hit-and-Run

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View Larger Map A pedestrian is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after a hit-and-run collision yesterday. SFPD spokesperson Sgt. Lyn Tomioka said the collision occurred near California Street and Van Ness Avenue at 8:20 p.m. The driver was believed to be in a white pickup truck. A license plate number was not available. Manish […]