Woman Dies After Being Struck by Crane Truck Driver in SoMa Crosswalk

Photo: Greg Janess

A 72-year-old woman walking in a crosswalk was struck by a driver steering a crane truck on 2nd Street and Townsend this morning, and later died at a hospital in San Francisco’s third pedestrian fatality of 2011.

The Appeal had first word of the 8:48 a.m. crash. San Francisco Fire Department spokesperson Lt. Mindy Talmadge said it happened right outside the department’s headquarters, which meant a very quick response with multiple emergency medical technicians. “Everybody ran out,” she said.

“The vehicle was traveling eastbound on Townsend making a left-hand turn onto northbound 2nd Street. The victim was in the crosswalk when she was struck by the truck,” said SFPD Officer Albie Esparza.

The truck belongs to Sheedy Drayage Company but neither the police or fire department had any information about the driver and phone calls to the company were not immediately returned. Talmadge described the driver as “extremely distraught.”

“No one has been placed in custody. No one is under arrest. At this point, it’s a tragic accident but the matter still continues as far as the investigation goes,” said Esparza, adding that it doesn’t appear alcohol was involved but that the driver would be tested for drugs. Ultimately, she said, it will be up the District Attorney’s Office to decide if any charges will be filed.

Esparza said the woman was pronounced dead at 1:50 p.m. Her identity was not immediately released pending notification of relatives.

Today’s pedestrian fatality is the second in one week, and the third this year, according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office.

Eighty-seven-year-old Aurora Venida died Wednesday, two days after being hit by the driver of a vehicle while crossing Geary Boulevard at Arguello. On January 27, 75-year-old Norman Daly was struck by a motorcyclist on Lincoln Way and 26th Avenue, and died on February 23.

“This is terrible news. Three seniors have died on San Francisco’s streets in less than three months. This should be a powerful impetus for the City to fast-track pedestrian safety improvements. We need a real commitment to calming traffic on the wide fast streets where we’re seeing the worst collisions,” said Elizabeth Stampe, the executive director of Walk San Francisco.

  • “No one has been placed in custody. No one is under arrest. At this point, it’s a tragic accident but the matter still continues as far as the investigation goes,”

    How can a person drive right over another human being and somehow not be criminally negligent? There’s no strong disincentive to encourage motorists to actually pay attention when they are driving. If they make the worst possible ‘error’ and kill a person (outside of a vehicle that is) they are immediately absolved. If this is the system, if we continue to support it, if people choose to drive with these ad hoc and formal legal conditions in place, then it seems to me that it is not a stretch to say that getting behind the wheel of a car is inherently immoral and unethical. To do something that endangers others lives to this degree, with immediate criminal absolution if one does hurt someone, I think there is an inherent immorality to that act and that system. Infrastructures and individual choices do matter if this is the system in which they participate.

    J

  • Douglas Whiting

    Sad, but come on. I am on board with the driver here. He in his 20 ton rig is a LOT easier to see than her little self. Sorry, but you have to protect yourself at all times out there. Let’s not give her family $10 million and bankrupt another operating business. Of course, investigate, but don’t assume this driver is a bad guy. Anybody that can roll that rig around downtown has some serious chops. I’ll just bet he feels worse than anyone. This sounds to me like a regrettable accident and sad, but not maliscious.

  • Past (Douglas) meet Future (Justin).

    Justin, well put. It is true that if there is zero accountability, at least initially, then how can you rightly expect someone to operate with the utmost care? Yes, there is guilt, but not even getting a slap on the wrist is shameful and, I’d agree, immoral.

    SoMa is a mess for pedestrians and this is very sad. Fast, wide, one-way roads promote excessive speeds and rushed turns.

  • triple0

    “I’ll just bet he feels worse than anyone.”

    No matter how manly a crane driver might be, a woman is dead due to his (in)actions. I’m going to say that she ‘feels worse’ than him: she’s dead.

  • SF Pedestrian

    He in his 20 ton rig is a LOT easier to see than her little self. Sorry, but you have to protect yourself at all times out there.

    I’m sorry, Douglas, however, if you’ve been given the class of license that allows you to operate a 20 ton vehicle, then you take on the responsibilites that come with that privilege. If you are turning in to a pedestrian crosswalk, no matter how large or small your vehicle is, you look for pedestrians. The larger the vehicle, the more you should be paying attention, right? I believe we were all taught this in 10th grade driver’s ed class. The driver and all other careless drivers like him, will be haunted by this incident until his dying day…and he deserves it.

    You’re driving in a major U.S. city, with pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders, strollers, wheelchairs, scooters, etc… everywhere you look. You’re in a 20 Ton Vehicle. If you have the “chops”, which I can only assume means “brains” in this instance, then use them before you kill another human being, please.

    The family will sue, he will lose his job, and the company will be fine because they have insurance to handle cases which involves negligence by incompetent employees.

    Sad.

  • matt

    All,

    I work right in front of the intersection. Others who were there say that the truck was moving slowly, trying to turn at a green light when he hit her. Sounds like a complete accident with no malicious or neglegent actions taken by the driver. Terrible accidents happen sometimes. Very sad.

  • Ao

    You may think you have the right of way, but you’ll be right and dead if you cross the street when it doesn’t look like a vehicle is slowing down.

  • jossy

    People, let’s be careful out there.
    While she was in the cross walk, did she have the light?
    Did she enter the intersection, when the light was changing try to
    “beat the light”?
    Let us not assume it is always the driver’s fault.
    We’ll have to await the investigation.
    I will say that pedestrians don’t look before they enter an intersection and have their mind on other things while they walk.
    And, I am not a driver–but this is my observation walking in this City.
    My condolences to her family and friends.

  • streetphreak

    Total bummer. Evidently some old folks aren’t that alert, but the crosswalk is supposed to be a sanctuary where presumably drivers must yield (according to CA DMV law). I often have to jump outta the way in a crosswalk or move swiftly for impatient drivers. SF drivers are in a hurry, usually tailgate, and are arrogant, and that’s when they’re sober. Left turns are the pits, and most drivers I know when confronted with this situation already assessed that the ped will have to bite the dust.

    Condolences to the deceased. The Seedy driver is out of a career, but at least still a living specimen.

  • Concerned

    Sorry Douglas but I agree with the others.

    What if I explain it another way?

    Say I was walking down the street with a gun with the safety off and it accidently goes off and kills someone. Am I not responsible? Do we say oops even though it was my fault to leave the safety off?

    If you are driving that huge crane, I think you are responsible for the entire truck and not just what you can see.

    Also, I work there and saw the crane. I’m 5’10 and I wasn’t even half the height.

    Concerned

  • Aaron Bialick

    I think the point that some of the victim-blaming commenters here are missing is that we live in a city where even the walking children, elderly, and disabled – the most vulnerable of all street users – are handed off the burdens of vigilance from those who we permit to operate heavy machinery on our streets and bring to them the single most ubiquitous threat to life.

  • Mario Tanev

    Douglas,

    Nobody is implying malice on the part of the driver. Negligence is the issue and a very good argument can be made that negligence while operating a motor vehicle should be criminalized to encourage careful driving (and to discourage unnecessary driving).

    There are a few possible reasons this accident occurred, and they place the fault in different hands:

    1. The driver became suddenly incapacitated (heart attack). While unfortunate, the driver cannot be considered at fault. However, if they mis-represented their health condition when receiving a license they can still be considered at fault. If the licensing authority had slack requirements, then it is at fault.

    2. The driver did not pay enough attention to notice the pedestrian on time, while having the capacity to do so. The driver is at fault and should be penalized.

    3. The driver entered the intersection when safe, but the intersection became unsafe afterwards. For example, the pedestrian ran onto the crosswalk, the driver hit the brakes immediately (because they were paying attention), but mechanically it was impossible to stop on time. The driver is not at fault, the pedestrian is. If the vehicle made it harder to stop on time than other vehicles in its class, perhaps the manufacturer is at fault.

    4. Same as 3, but the driver didn’t react on time because they weren’t paying attention. In this case, both the pedestrian and driver are at fault, and the driver should be penalized.

    5. The vehicle made it impossible or very difficult for the driver to notice the pedestrian due to a design flaw. In that case the vehicle manufacturer is at fault.

    Criminalizing negligent driving would be a step in the right direction towards internalizing the true costs of driving.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Mario –

    So, running through a crosswalk is asking for death? I had the crazy idea the person bringing a 20-ton crane through the intersection was ultimately responsible for any deaths as a direct result.

    Many countries have strict liability laws that nearly always fault those using the most hazardous modes of transport in a crash (including bikes in a bike-ped crash), and that makes sense to me.

  • Nick

    I hate to say it, but I really hope the crane operator was not drinking heavily the night before (or the pedestrian for that matter).

    Townsend Street in general is still a mess even with “traffic-calming bike lanes.” Pedestrians jay-walk here all day long. Cars speed in excess of 45 mph despite whatever the non-posted speed limit is. A bicyclist was doored and severely injured on this very block about 3-4 weeks ago and required an ambulance.

    Some of these long SOMA blocks really need mid-block crosswalks. Townsend between 2nd and 3rd is a great example. Install demand-activated flashing yield lights to make sure drivers actually stop.

  • Mario Tanev

    Aaron,

    I think you are referring to the following excerpt of my comment:

    3. The driver entered the intersection when safe, but the intersection became unsafe afterwards. For example, the pedestrian ran onto the crosswalk, the driver hit the brakes immediately (because they were paying attention), but mechanically it was impossible to stop on time. The driver is not at fault, the pedestrian is. If the vehicle made it harder to stop on time than other vehicles in its class, perhaps the manufacturer is at fault.

    What I describe above (perhaps not very clearly) is a scenario under which the driver paid full attention up to and including a sudden change in circumstances the driver could not have foreseen. Placing the driver at fault would be arbitrary since there is nothing the driver could have done differently that would have prevented the incident. Arbitrary justice is no justice.

    Now, one thing you could quibble with is the clause “pedestrian ran onto the crosswalk”. By that I meant that the pedestrian was nowhere near the intersection when the vehicle began to turn. If the pedestrian trajectory implied that the pedestrian would begin crossing while the driver was making a turn, the driver should have waited, and is at fault.

    While I advocate criminalization of negligent driving, I want to make sure that it discriminates between negligent and non-negligent. If it doesn’t then it won’t be a deterrent against unsafe driving, it will simply be a deterrent against driving. But once a driver decides to drive, they would not have as much of an incentive to drive safely since they would know that even if they did everything perfectly they could still be held liable.

    The most draconian definition of when a driver is at fault is: if another driver could have avoided it with the same means available to them (but took a different, legal*, non-random** course of action), then this driver is at fault.

    * legal, to exclude the case where the driver advances while the pedestrian light is green, but waits to make the turn only when the pedestrian light becomes red. That would arguably be safer for pedestrians, as long as they don’t cross on red, but it would be unsafe for traffic.

    ** non-random, to exclude an arbitrary wait time without any justification, that is, the luck factor. It could be that an equally inattentive driver started turning a second later/earlier and avoided the accident.

  • We really need those types of strict liability laws here in the states. Driving is far too often viewed as a right, not a responsibility. And the mentality of “car vs person, person loses so WATCH OUT!” doesn’t do anyone any favors, even the motorists that supposedly gain from such thinking.

  • Andy Chow

    I suggest anyone blaming commercial drivers should first try to learn drive these vehicles first. That is what I’ve been doing (a bus). There’s a lot to look for and a lot of things I could miss.

    Trucks and buses come with plenty of blind spots. They require wide turns. Unfortunately a lot of people (especially people who drive cars) aren’t aware of the danger and don’t give any respect. Cars cut them off all the time. Bikes can get on their right hand side (when they try to turn right) and can come right in front of them. Bikers aren’t supposed to go straight on the side of the right hand turn lane, but many bikers aren’t educated about that (and many pay no attention to traffic signals too).

    Big cities have lots of pedestrians, bicyclists, as well as big vehicles like trucks and buses. Trucks deliver products to the city and buses bring commuters who otherwise would have to drive.

    Another factor that we can’t overlook is the design of the intersection and the cycle and timing of the traffic signal.

  • Mario Tanev

    Andy,

    If a vehicle is badly designed, then the manufacturer is at fault. If all modern trucks share a flaw (say, blind spot), and if a driver hurts someone due to that flaw (and there was no way to take that flaw into account to predict consequences), then arguably the driver should not be held at fault. It is the price we pay for allowing trucks on our roads. But if a driver could have been expected to take all precautions before proceeding, and didn’t, then they should be held liable. That may mean that a cautious driver would drive too slowly, and his employer would fire them (in which case he should sue his employer for pressuring them to drive unsafely).

    How about the case where a driver has time X to perform an operation, and while performing it, they need time 3 * X to take necessary precaution (1 * X each for checking each side mirror, and 1 * X to check the back camera). Clearly there is not enough time to perform all necessary precaution steps. If the driver chooses to perform the one that prevents the incident, good, but what if they choose one that doesn’t? Is the driver at fault? Well, this sounds like a design flaw in the road or the vehicle – there is no way to perform that action safely. If licensing requirements require the driver be aware of that, then the driver is at fault. Otherwise, the licensing authority is at fault for not requiring more thorough preparation.

  • Andy Chow

    We all like to point fingers but your perspective will change if you get on the driver seat (or a seat next to the driver) on one of those vehicles.

    What I am against is to pretend that we have simple answer to the issue. The fact is that there’s often an unfortunate combination of factors that contributed to the collision (a commercial driver, including Muni drivers, don’t hit people all the time). We need strategies that are realistic.

    While the pedestrians have the right of way, I think it is foolish to pretend that pedestrians don’t have to look out for big vehicles and take caution. (I am not commenting on general terms, not specifically on this incident.)

    Take a look at this PSA on traffic safety in Hong Kong: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yzk_W3cPvQ The point of the PSA is that everyone has a role in preventing collision.

  • Paul Jackson

    Two people died today not only the woman but the man who was driving the truck cause he will never be the same I was there it is very hard to drive a truck that big in that area when you have to watch for cars and people all it takes is a sec and everything can go wrong even if your doing everything right THAT IS A 20 TON TRUCK if it was that easy to drive everybody would be doing it and that lady was the one sec that went wrong it was just a really bad accident so just pray for her to be in a better place and pray for him to find a way back to a better place

  • Hanna

    This is such a dangerous intersection. I cross multiple times a day and have almost been hit on multiple occasions. I never cross without ‘watching my back’ for motorists gunning to beat the light when turning onto Second from Townsend or even worse, the drivers turning right onto Townsend from Second, who rarely come to a stop and generally only look to the left when turning.
    I hope the SFPD will monitor this intersection more now after this tragedy and aggressively ticket drivers (especially the texting + phone talking distracted drivers) who are so dangerous to this neighborhood – especially since baseball season is about to start.

  • maaaty

    I’ve always liked the type of intersection where there is a cycle of red lights all around while the cross-walks are free of anything but peds.

    That a 72-year-old woman and a 20-ton vehicle must negotiate the crosswalk is the crux of the problem. Why do we tolerate this type of traffic engineering and then run out the same arguments every time someone loses a life?

  • Wow Paul. No, I’m pretty sure only the elderly woman died today. I’m not saying 100% of the fault here is with the driver — bad infrastructure and legal policies contribute a lot to such crashes — but you’re absolution of the driver is part of the problem.

    Also, dude, wtf are you talking about when you write: “if it was that easy to drive everybody would be doing it” would we? really? what?

  • Alex

    Wait. What? Where were all of you when that bicycle wielding guy sent a 61-year old woman to the hospital with life threatening injuries? Why should he be any less responsible than this truck driver? Oh… bike blog strikes again. Yawn.

  • Sad

    Let’s all just take a moment from being self centered to send good thoughts and well wishes to the children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. They lost a great and amazing woman.

    To streetphreak, she was not an old folk nor not alert. Please don’t say things about a person you didn’t know and just assume things because of her age.

    I think we should forget about who to blame. Instead let’s think of a ways to prevent this tragedy from ever happening again.

  • Supervisor Jane Kim has calendared a hearing on Pedestrian Safety issues at the Supervisors Public Safety Committee meeting on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. Watch the agenda the week before to verify that the date sticks – and PLEASE attend and call out the City, especially the SFMTA, for their complete negligence on pedestrian safety which prioritizes excessively speeding cars over safe pedestrian crossings.

    Unless the crane truck driver was experiencing a medical emergency when he drove up to that intersection that prevented him from stopping the vehicle in time to avoid KILLING this neighbor of ours, he was driving too fast. The impatience of drivers is killing or injuring 2 of us EVERY DAY on average, and this has to stop. We shouldn’t worry about getting killed every time we cross a street legally – how do we give drivers an incentive to slow down? Oh yes … enforcement of traffic laws – what a concept!

  • Danny

    None of you know anything about what happened, only speculation. I am a Sheedy crane operator and the guy that was involved in this accident is a experienced, professional driver. I was closely involved with what happened yesterday and must say the driver is very distraught about the whole thing. Use some discretion when you post your comments.

    He was not speeding, he did not disobey the traffic device. The investigation will yield the cause of the accident. I will not rebuttal.

  • DD

    YES, as so many of the comments point out, there are other possible factors that are not being considered. But how can we possibly know any of these things within 3 hours of the accident? Making guesses based on our own experience is not necessarily helpful. Our collective frustration is more properly directed at news coverage which–time and again–leaves out these many possibilities from its coverage, making the situation seem much more simple than it really is.

    I think at this early stage, there are only a few things you can say with confidence:
    1.) It is tragic for all parties involved when someone dies like this, and each affected person or family will feel different impacts from that tragedy.
    2.)If the driver is responsible, he should face some consequences, BUT it would be completely inappropriate for a DA to charge anyone before they know the facts of the case.
    3.) The continued used of the word ‘accident’ de-sensitizes us to the fact that most (though admittedly not all) traffic collisions can be avoided with better design and more careful behavior by all road users.

  • John Murphy

    Danny – let the speculators speculate. If you were involved – don’t put anything into public record.

  • Heartsick

    The lady hit and killed was an intelligent, lovely woman with family and grandchildren. I knew her personally and she was on her way to work. She was loved by everyone who knew her. This was her walking route every day and she was one block away from her job.

    This is a tragedy. It is also tragic for the person driving the truck.

    Prayers should be sent to everyone involved. More importantly, if there is something to make this crosswalk safer, it would be the best possible outcome.

  • ZA

    It’s a tragedy all around. I can’t help thinking that we are again seeing the unnecessary bloodshed that results from a neighborhood that has outgrown its ‘light industrial’ roots faster than infrastructure, custom, and law enforcement can keep up.

    20 ton vehicles driving on increasingly residential roads during weekend business hours without their own path, without a convoy escort, or other means of managing this risk? Think of all the ways this could have been avoided, accepting the limits of 49 square miles to work in.

  • Neighbor

    My office looks down on the accident scene. I agree with Danny’s post. The driver was visibly distraught and no one was questioning his sobriety. This was simply a tragic accident. The real issue is the intersection itself. In the last few years there have been multiple accidents and it is very dangerous for pedestrians. As someone who has walked those crosswalks literally hundreds of times I plead with anyone who works for the city who reads this to help.

  • Bobbie

    Danny —
    Nice to see you on here spreading speculation just like you’re chastising the other posters for doing.

    Do the three words “Pot—Kettle—Black?” come to mind.

  • Jack

    The only way to make drivers slow down when they approach intersections is to force a stop. If the speed limit is 30MPH, drivers have the notion they can keep driving at 30MPH as they approach and execute their left or right turns … and that’s usually when pedestrians get injured/killed.

    Four way stops throughout SoMa!

  • Alex

    Jack, the impression I get is that the truck was moving very slowly (hard to imagine a truck that big taking a 90 degree turn at 30mph). IMO what’s needed are separate pedestrian and vehicle signal phases a la 9th and Judah.

  • pchas

    Pedestrians make a dangerous assumption that because they are in the crosswalk with the right of way that vehicles will stop for them. Twice, I have been hit in a crosswalk by a turning vehicle. I also witnessed an accident where a pedestrian walked into a streetcar turning onto Market from Fremont. In each case the driver did not see the person in the intersection. It’s a lot easier for a pedestrian to see a 20 ton truck than for the driver of said truck to see a pedestrian.

  • Nick

    Alex, 9th and Judah does not have separate ped/vehicle signal phases. The only intersections that I am aware that have them are a few in the Financial District.

    Again, I would like to repeat that some of these long SOMA blocks have a lot of jaywalking pedestrians. One thing that is needed are mid-block crosswalks, with pedestrian refuge islands, and demand-activated “yield” signals.

    Sunset Blvd at Yorba has one if anyone would like to see a template design.

  • Alex

    Nick: In that case the big problem was ped/auto collisions with LRVs. The LRVs do have a separate signal phase. I don’t think there’s anything about Sunset that should be used as a template design. IIRC, the ped crossings that far down Sunset don’t actually have their own signals… and there are a number of out of the way (and out of the line of vision of drivers) crosswalks along that part of Sunset.

    pchas: I was walking across 46th Ave (@ Ulloa) Friday about halfway through the crosswalk when a careless MUNI driver entered the crosswalk. You want me to seriously believe that asshole didn’t see me? If I see a vehicle half a bock away, should I yield to that too? Yes, pedestrians take risks, but certainly not all of them are unreasonable. Potentially even the woman in question here.

    If visibility is so poor out of something as large as this crane truck, why was it not being escorted by more nimble vehicles (like trucks with extra wide loads or big boats in the bay are)?

  • Jack

    Four way stops are the only way to make sure pedestrians are given priority. The vehicle stops and has an incentive to look around before making a turn, lest another driver is driving into the intersection at the same time. The speed and stop distance tables also make it pretty plain that once a vehicle is moving at a speed above 10 MPH, the 20 feet or so between where a vehicle begins it’s turn and the crosswalk of the street on which they are turning onto is not enough distance to react and stop the vehicle. A lot of neighborhoods in San Francisco have mostly four way stops (Potrero Hill, for example), and there is no excuse for the SFMTA to not do the same thing in SoMa now that the area is becoming predominantly residential on the east side by the waterfront… No longer abandoned warehouses and rail yards.

    Four way stops… The only solution to the pure selfishness of drivers unwiling to slow down on their own when they approach intersections.

  • Alex

    Jack: What will four way stops do for the pure selfishness of people with bicycles?

  • Jack

    The pedestrian should be prioritized first on our streets, and four way stops are the only way to force drivers and bicyclists to do so. I suppose DPT folks would make more revenue for the City by ticketing stop sign runners, and why not?

  • taomom

    Sadly, as a pedestrian I have experienced cars blowing through four-way stops in my neighborhood at over 20 mph *while I was in the crosswalk*. So, from hard experience, I do my best to make eye contact with a driver before I put my body in front of his/her five thousand pound vehicle. And though I perhaps have had to wait a second or two for inconsiderate bicyclists who failed to cede me the right of way when I was clearly there first, in my twenty years of experience as a pedestrian in this city, I can honestly say I have never felt my life threatened by anyone on a bicycle. But then again, to push the point, I always look both ways before ever stepping into the street.

    As both a pedestrian and bicyclist, cars turning left scare me more than anything because they are crazed, looking for an opening in traffic to dart through. I know this because when I drive, I am crazed, looking for an opening in traffic to dart through. When the light first turns, I size the situation up, see all the pedestrians on the corners, any bicyclists approaching, estimate how long they’ll take to cross, and then start evaluating on-coming traffic. (If it’s awful, I just settle in until the yellow.) The challenge is that busy intersections can be very, very hard to process all the visual input at the speed necessary for proper decisions, so that when a gap in traffic finally appears and you go for your turn, all of the sudden some new pedestrian you didn’t see earlier can have entered the crosswalk, partially hidden previously be the stream of moving cars.

    I think the solution at busy intersections is to make a pedestrian-only segment in the traffic light cycle. I think the solution in general is for drivers to always drive very, very cautiously, as if indeed they might kill someone precious at every corner if they are inattentive or wield their vehicle with too much speed. Engineering the streets for slower speeds and more cautious turns would also help.

    It can be especially hard for pedestrians to see left-turning vehicles because it can mean awkwardly looking behind you over your shoulder as you walk. If you are crossing from the same direction the left-turning vehicle is coming from, they are simply not in your line of vision.

  • Nick

    I went by this intersection today and it didn’t seem particularly hazardous. If anything the crossing distance was less than that of other similiar crosswalks. That could have encouraged the pedestrian to take a risk and cross late in the light cycle.

    It’s speculation I know.

  • jack

    Westbound Townsend at 2nd Street is not particularly busy …. residents and the occasional person turning onto Townsend off The Embarcadero are the ones driving through there, not commuters.

    The war against pedestrians rages on with another death on Market at 8th Saturday evening. Folks get their shorts in a knot about wars far, far away, but I don’t see much action calling for an end to the war against pedestrians in San Francisco when we can ACTUALLY do something about it.

    How much does a stop sign cost anyway? Can we at least start by making the intersections that are most common for deaths and injuries a four-way stop? LIves are worth stopping for …. Let’s ask Nate Ford and the SFMTA to stop aiding and abetting the war against pedestrians in SoMa and to recognize the area is no longer full of warehouses and old train tracks … that 40,000 folks (+ Mission Bay) now live in SoMa (vs. 10,000 or so in 1990, according to today’s Examiner.

  • jack

    Guess I should add some details for the less informed ….

    When I say that Westbound Townsend at 2nd Street is not particularly busy, I’m arguing against any notion that the Sheedy driver was likely stopped and waiting for oncoming (westbound) cars to get through before making his turn … more likely, it was clear for him to make his turn, and he did not slow down with any notion that there might be a pedestrian … the physics of stopping distance and the speed he was traveling took over from there.

  • Nick

    Jack, the MTA has an interesting policy on installing STOP Signs. Read on:

    The MTA has a policy where they REFUSE to be proactive about installing additional stop signs. In almost every case where one is installed, the neighborhood has to request it (it becomes a 6-8 month process).

    The MTA usually relents to vocal residents, but not always. I’ve gotten them to install 2 stop signs (out of 3) along a certain bike route. The most dangerous intersection they refused because it carries a large volume of car traffic in the opposite direction. That’s kind of why we need an all-way stop there, hello?

    Often they will suggest traffic calming instead of a stop sign. However they don’t have money for traffic calming so nothing happens. If they do, it becomes a 2 year ordeal before you see any changes on the ground.

  • mike

    I read about 90% of the comments and while most try to place blame, here’s a possible solution….
    I assume because I live near the polk/gultch area (that has several senior living areas) that what probably happened was the driver saw her, waited for her to pass, was distracted by another car or biker (which sometimes pay no attention to lights), then looked back in front and did not see the lady and proceded to go, but what he couldnt see was that she was too short to be seen over the front of the rig and once the crane started to go she wasn’t quick enough to get out of the way. This happened to me when I was a kid, luckily I was quick enough after the large truck started to move that I jumped out of the way.

    So a solution might be (a) better technology on these large trucks that monitor hard to see areas (like backup cams on many mini vans these days) or (b) modify cross walk signals to have a regular countdown time to cross and a senior countdown, the senior countdown would add an extra 10 to 15 seconds. I constantly see seniors still in the middle of the street when the flashing hand is going so I go and make sure no cars start to move in other lanes that may not see them.

    Both solutions require action by someone either the manufactures or the city, and with budgets being what they are these days I doubt the city will decide to take up any action, which is where suing the pants off the manufacture of the crane might implement change to the safety systems of these very large vehicles.

    jussayin

    m

  • Otto

    Nick,

    I understand what you think is the de facto SFMTA policy on Stop Signs. But do you know what their actual policy on them is?

    A 4-Way Stop works best where it is at the intersection of 2 streets with approximately equal traffic flows.

    If there are hugely disparate traffic flows, you’d have either a 2-Way Stop on the lessor street, or a traffic light where you can skew the durations to reflect the differential flows.

    Given that, it’s clear that you can’t have a 4-Way Stop Sign on every intersection that happens to be a bike lane. There are bike lanes that cross very major streets like 19th Avenue and, to force every perpendicular vehicle to stop at every block would grind traffic to a halt.

    I think SFMTA needs to publish their standards for the use of Stop Signs, so that we can all see whether or not they make sense. And then they should apply them consistently, and not because any one group is “vocal”.

    And if one of their mandates is to “maintain reasonable vehicular speeds and volumes”, then they should say so.

  • Nick

    Thanks Otto for your thoughtful response.

    In practice, this means that a lot of residential bike routes will end up with intersections where bikes have to dodge car traffic.

    The 2-way stops are completely logical from a car owner’s persepctive. I think the MTA knows this, but won’t be proactive about changing it.

    -And your 19th Avenue example is a little disingenious.

  • Jack

    There ya go the crux of the problem …. SFMTA prioritizes the movement of vehicles over the safety of pedestrians… Especially in SoMa it seems. Perhaps it is time for residents in SoMa to start demanding that no more developments get built in SoMa, residential or office (hello 1,000 foot Transbay Tower) until SFMTA Recognizes that peoples’ lives are worth stopping traffic for.

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