Supe Wiener: Dangerous Upper Market Intersections Need Safety Upgrades

The intersection of Castro, Market, and 17th Streets where Sutchi Hiu was killed. Photo: Google Maps

D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener today pointed to the need for pedestrian safety upgrades at dangerous, high-speed intersections along Upper Market Street in light of the recent bicycle-pedestrian collision at Market and Castro that killed 71-year old Sutchi Hui.

“We have a city that, despite all the work we’ve done, is still in large part designed for cars,” Wiener said at today’s Board of Supervisors meeting. “Castro and Market, for those who cross it — and I cross it multiple times every day — is incredibly wide.”

Fixing “disastrous” intersections “all along the Upper Market corridor,” he said, “requires investment, it requires prioritizing making these kinds of expenditures, because it does save lives when you reduce crossing distances, when you increase visibility for all users of the road.”

Hui’s death, he added, is “another reminder that we need to keep moving forward with enforcement, with education, and with the investments to make our city the pedestrian-friendly place that we know it needs to be.”

  • Jamison Wieser

    Now might be a good time to dust off the 2008 Upper Market Community Plan and actually implement some of the pedestrian safety measures that were already studied and approved by the planning commission.

    Pedestrian refuges and islands, bulb-outs, bike boxes and using alternative paving/crosswalk treatments would do a lot to physically shorten the crossings and visually narrow the streets to nudge drivers into slowing down. A lot could be done in short order through better painting and striping or building corner bulbouts parklet-style in the interim.http://sfplanning.org/index.aspx?page=1697

  • Anonymous

    I suggest that a row of collapsible crash barriers be installed along the outside of Jane Warner Plaza for out-of-control bicyclists on the Castro Street Bomb to crash into instead of pedestrians.

  • Jim Lang

    I’ve been following the news of the 71 year old pedestrian that was killed by Chris Bucchere (cyclist) very closely, and I’m very glad to see that SF is finally doing something to get people to abide by the law. 

    Every day I see bicyclists endangering pedestrians. 

    I finally decided to do something about it — I recorded a couple of videos at 9.30am this morning at 4th and folsom just to show the widespread nature of red-light running and endangering pedestrians. 

    See Here – http://youtu.be/F4RGh6rzVek 

    and here for the entire channel of 5 videos – http://www.youtube.com/user/bikersbehavingbadly?ob=0&feature=results_main 

  • FWIW I when I see other cyclists doing that at that intersection I make a point of saying something to them. It doesn’t do them any good to run it because they aren’t moving fast enough to catch the green light at 3rd and Folsom.

    Did you happen to catch any video of the motorists who lack basic control of their vehicle to the point that they use the bike lane to turn rather than the turn lane? I had to snake through several cars that were doing that this morning. It happens frequently too at the intersection but good luck getting enforcement of it.

  • Speaking of pedestrian endangerment at intersections.

  • “FWIW I when I see other cyclists doing that at that intersection I make a point of saying something to them.”

    You are a more patient man than I

  • Anonymous

    I used to say something to cyclists riding on the sidewalk, but I stopped because all they did was threaten to beat me up. 

  • Aaron Bialick

    Jim,

    Normally, I stay out of these conversations. I have no interest defending these people, I don’t know them, and I cannot speak to their thought processes, no more than I could anyone else driving or walking.

    As someone who gets around mostly by bike, seeing this behavior annoys me, and it’s something I do not do. It is clearly illegal, it can make pedestrians uncomfortable, and there is potential for a low-speed collision. It usually doesn’t even save any time, and I would rather not have to weave through pedestrians.

    Yes, of course the bicycling culture in San Francisco should change to make safe and legal behavior the norm (as should our streets be engineered to be easy to use by bicycle and foot in a safe and legal manner). And I drool imagining the day we have bicycling education promoted at an early age.

    All that said — if the means to achieving safer streets is identifying the greatest dangers on which to focus our limited enforcement and engineering resources to save the most lives, does the behavior you documented encompass that? Does the behavior exhibited in your video that come anywhere close to being a significant cause of deaths and injuries on our street?

    That’s not what I see. What I do see certainly annoys me. But as someone who wants lives saved in my city, it’s not the kind of behavior I would tell my short-staffed traffic officers to divert their attention to as their top priority, because somewhere else, they might have helped prevent one of the 17 lives lost last year – 16 of them killed by multi-ton, motorized cars, as were 96 percent of the 899 pedestrians injured. And yes, the first person in an unknown number of years was killed by a bicyclist blowing through a red light, as was one more this year.

    So yes, go after the Randolph Angs, Chric Buccheres, and any bicyclist or driver who exhibits deadly behavior in a strategic way that saves the most lives. And key to doing that is looking at the statistics, being realistic in our assessment of the greatest dangers on our streets, not counting anyone’s life any less worthy than others, and holding accountable all 20 drivers and two bicyclists who have killed somebody this year and last.

    To me, the people I see starting on their bikes early through a red light, (but apparently still yielding to pedestrians) may be rude and annoying, but it’s just not the kind of behavior that I know, based on the data, kills and maims people on a daily basis.

  • @google-8c526811e1e5499e48b1f2b73d7570ee:disqus what do you say about these photos I took this evening: 
    http://imgur.com/a/htfTa? Do you think the SFPD should be enforcing the traffic laws that they are breaking?

  • Jim Lang

    Aaron, Sean, & murphstahoe – 

    IMHO, the problem is a sense of entitlement and self-centered thinking that is pervasive to our society.  It’s always “me me me first”.  We see that in cyclists and motorists alike, who intimidate and endanger pedestrians.

    I’m not one to split hairs and condone one set of the population engaging in rude and bad behavior while penalizing the other set.  Doing so will only make the problem worse.  The only way to nip this behavior is to give ’em all big fat tickets to cyclists and motorists alike …. all of ’em deserve a big punishment.

  • Anonymous

    @google-8c526811e1e5499e48b1f2b73d7570ee:disqus Not only do I agree with what @azb324:disqus said below, but I would take it a step further: what the bicyclists did in your video, especially the woman cyclist, is not dangerous (but if it was me, I would have gone slower than the guy did in your video and more at the speed of the girl, but I still don’t think what the guy did is dangerous). Is it illegal? Yep, but illegal by rules that were not designed at all with bicycles in mind.

    Here, take a look at this video of cycling in Utrecht in the Netherleands (which has, as the video makes clear, an extremely high rate of cycling … ~33% of trips are by bicycle):

    Do you notice how the cyclists and pedestrians interact? It’s really not a big deal that they all criss-cross around each other. Why? Because people are yielding to each other and nobody is going fast. Just like the cyclists did in your video. (By the way, did you notice how none of the pedestrians in your video seemed concerned about what the cyclists were doing?)

    Now, if you do what the two cyclists have done in the last year where they killed pedestrians, it was not at all the situation in the video I linked to here or the one you took this morning. Those two cyclist were traveling extremely fast and not yielding to pedestrians, and *that* is completely dangerous and should absolutely be something that SFPD enforces and the whole community, especially cyclists, actively fights against. But there is a massive difference between what the two cyclists who killed pedestrians did and what is happening in your video or the one I linked to and what the vast majority of cyclists do. Riding a bike slowly (~5 mph) around pedestrians is no more dangerous than being around other pedestrians, as all European cities with high rates of cycling have shown. In your video, as you obviously noticed, the bicyclists were crossing with pedestrians. Again, if you accept the idea that bicyclists traveling slow are no worse than pedestrians, then there is no reason they can’t mix, and there is no reason bicycles need to behave like a car when they are patently nothing like a car (their weight, speed, nimbleness, and lack of dulled sense of their operator all makes them much closer to a pedestrian than a car, *especially* when traveling slow).

    We need to stop treating bicycles like cars and realize that the current laws which do treat them like cars are not at all appropriate for bikes. There is nothing gained by not letting a cyclist travel *slowly* through the intersection in your video when pedestrians are crossing. I understand you’re fixated on the letter of the law (bicycles are vehicles and not pedestrians so can’t cross when cars have the red but pedestrians have the “walk” signal), but we need to change that. Laws are there to achieve some higher purpose (in this case, determine right of way), not to just make us perform some action for no reason like mindless automatons.

    We need to change the laws for cyclists to recognize that they are not cars and understand that they can perform actions which, though dangerous in a car, are not in a bike. That way, we discriminate between truly dangerous bicyclist behavior (the two cyclists who killed pedestrians, or any other of the rare cases were pedestrians are hurt) and everything else where the spirit, if not the letter, of the law is upheld. And it will also stop all this nonsense in the community about scapegoating bicycles for pedestrian deaths/injuries when they cause a tiny fraction while completely accepting/ignoring that cars kill/maim the vast, vast majority of pedestrians (and cyclists, and other motorists).

  • Jim Lang

    jd_x – I don’t agree with your statement.  Anyone can plainly see that the pedestrian had to jump forward a little @ 19 seconds into the video to avoid the bicyclist.

    Furthermore, a bicyclist shouldn’t be weaving between pedestrians.  One cannot always assume a pedestrian is going to walk in a straight line.  I used to weave between pedestrians until I had kids —- and I realized that kids NEVER walk in a straight line.  They stop, go in reverse, zig zag, etc…

    Now I always stop at redlights.  I’m still guilty of sometimes going through stop signs — but redlights I always stop at.  If there are pedestrians, I always stop.  If we start splitting hairs and seeing shades of grey to condone certain behavior, we’ll lose all public support for our cause of bicycling.  Sometimes to win the war, you gotta take your lumps and give up some battles.

  • Jim Lang

    BTW – If the SFPD give me a ticket for going through a stop sign, I’ll gladly take my lumps as being an “adult.”  

  • @jd_x:disqus actually I’ll just respectfully disagree. The cyclists can wait 15 seconds. If no one is using the crosswalk, fine — illegal but harmless. Maybe there’s something wrong with me, but I’ll admit, as a pedestrian, I’d rather -not- have cyclists coming toward me from 3 different directions. Watch the video again: at the end, as the woman goes through there is a man crossing (who had a walk signal when he entered) who gets cyclists on both sides of him.

    The only time doing this works out to any benefit if if you’re flooring it to get to the light at 3rd Street in which case you’re probably going too fast anyway.

  • Anonymous

    @google-8c526811e1e5499e48b1f2b73d7570ee:disqus wrote: “Anyone can plainly see that the pedestrian had to jump forward a little at 19 seconds into the video to avoid the bicyclist.”

    Okay, I watched it more carefully and saw that. But that woman cyclist was traveling as slow as a pedestrian. And pedestrians traveling in perpendicular directions navigating sidewalks constantly have to alter their path for other pedestrians. Just head on down to Powell north of Market St and watch the chaos as pedestrians all over are constantly changing their path because of other pedestrians. Do you think this is a problem? Come on. Bicyclists traveling slow are no different than pedestrians. I agree that they should always give the right of way to pedestrian, but just because some pedestrians offers to speed up or to slow down to let a bicyclist through doesn’t mean what the bicyclist did was wrong.

    “Furthermore, a bicyclist shouldn’t be weaving between pedestrians.”

    As I’ve already said, and as you’ll see all over Europe where there are high rates of cycling, I totally disagree. Bicyclists traveling *slow* can totally interact with pedestrians. Again, you need to discriminate between reckless bicycling and safe bicycling. To make blanket statements that a cyclists can never be anywhere near a pedestrian or that neither of them should ever have to move to yield to the other is nuts. What kind of society do we all just pick a straight line and pretend like, if anything gets in my way on that line, they are in the wrong?

    “I used to weave between pedestrians until I had kids —- and I realized that kids NEVER walk in a straight line.”

    Again, you need to discriminate. If there are kids, the cyclist needs to be even more careful. Come on, pedestrians do this all the time. Ever seen some pedestrian walking really fast (or jogging) and try to pass some kids? They always have to be extra careful around kids because they are indeed unpredictable.

    My point here is that you keep wanting to establish some black-and-white blanket rule that says bicyclist are incapable of being anywhere near pedestrians no matter what. (Ironically, cyclists are forced to be just feet from cars that weigh several hundred times more than then and are traveling several times faster than them *all* the time … it’s called a bike lane, and most non-cyclists seem to think this is “safe”.) What cyclists are trying to tell you is that what really matters is behavior that is truly dangerous to pedestrians (and other cyclists), not behavior that violates laws that were written by completely ignoring the unique needs of cyclists.

    “I’m still guilty of sometimes going through stop signs — but redlights I always stop at.”

    Ah, so you exercise judgement at times and, though you follow the spirit of the law, you break the letter of the law. Interesting how you as a motorist don’t see any problem with that (and these rules were actually written for you!), yet you have enough problem with cyclists making the same call, so much so that you have to go out and take videos of it and go to forums berating them for it. Again, this is the bias that websites like this are trying to draw attention to. It truly never ceases to amaze me.

  • Anonymous

    @google-c1054b713ae4d63cc3ebaf620c20fb35:disqus wrote: “actually I’ll just respectfully disagree. The cyclists can wait 15
    seconds. If no one is using the crosswalk, fine — illegal but harmless”

    But the point is, the laws weren’t written for cyclists. Sure, you draw the line in a different spot than me (you think it’s okay to cross on red if there are no pedestrians, I thin it’s okay if there are pedestrians as long as the cyclists is going slow and yields). And honestly, I’m fine for debating what exactly these new laws would be; my problem is treating cyclists like cars and then, when they do behavior which is perfectly safe for a cyclist but not for a car, they are lumped in with the cars.

  • Jim Lang

    jd_x – 

    You’ll attract more bees with honey than you will with vinegar.  If you want the world to agree with you, use honey.  

    Peace,
    Jim

    PS – I go thru stop signs as a cyclist — not a motorist!

  • Right, but the the law saying you shouldn’t go through the crosswalk when a pedestrian has RoW wasn’t written to take away rights of the cyclists, it was meant to protect the rights of pedestrians. And no matter how you look at it, 200 pounds of person and bike even moving at 5 mph has a hell of a lot more momentum than a person walking at 2 mph.

  • @google-8c526811e1e5499e48b1f2b73d7570ee:disqus I agree with you that what they were doing at that moment in that intersection was wrong, but if you run stop signs then you’re guilty of what you’re trying to call others out for.

  • Anonymous

    There actually isn’t that much difference between a bicyclist moving slow (they only have 25 extra pounds over a pedestrian … there are obese pedestrians that weigh more than that) and a pedestrian walking. A couple mph’s isn’t a big deal. Again, look at how it works in northern Europe where bicyclists often share the same space with pedestrans. It works great. Again, where exactly to draw the line is debateable, for if we extend your concept that pedestrians can’t accept any risk, then we better start designing our sidewalks with barriers between people moving in different directions, or making sure every time they cross a road it’s in a footbridge or tunnel so there is no risk whatsoever. And for that matter, at all speeds but zero mph, cars are a risk to everyone, yet we obviously agree that cars should be able to go faster than zero. We always are trading off risk and convenience, so that means there is a point where you draw the line and say, “risk is acceptable up to this point and no more”. But that point is debateable and changes with different people and at different times.

    And by the way, I don’t think traffic laws were written to take away rights of cyclists, but they severly restrict the possibility of cycling being a legitimate form of transit because they ignore the unique features of cyclists (like that slowing down at a stop sign without stopping gives them just as much ability to yield as stopping, yet prevents them from having to lose all momentum and go through the unstable act of starting from rest).

  • Anonymous

    This denoting of cyclists as a population with a “sense of entitlement” has to stop

  • peternatural

    I agree that usually online comments calling cyclists “entitled” are lame, but in this case Jim is applying the epithet to everyone, not just cyclists.

    Normally it goes more like this:

    “Cyclists are entitled because they feel they can pick and choose what laws to follow and when.”

    “Um, doesn’t every single motorist do exactly the same thing?”

    “SHUT UP!!”

  • Anonymous

    I think the word entitled should be stricken from the dictionary. It has become a catch all for demonizing other people, that the world should hue to exactly what you desire and no resources should be used on anything else.

    This AM at Noe Courts I was in a conversation with someone and she used the E word. Then she went to chase her off leash dog that was running down the street. Noe Courts is an ON-LEASH dog park that is de-facto off leash, the rules are ignored. The non dog-owning users of the park complain about this and sometimes there is a sting. The dog owners push back that while they are violating the letter of the law that their usage is safe. Dogs have killed more humans than cyclists over the last ten years. Needless to say the E word is used a lot in relation to this debate.

  • Anonymous

    @peternatural:disqus wrote:

    “Normally it goes more like this:

    ‘Cyclists are entitled because they feel they can pick and choose what laws to follow and when.’

    ‘Um, doesn’t every single motorist do exactly the same thing?’

    ‘SHUT UP!!’

    Yep. And in this case, it reverts to waxing poetic about using honey and vinegar to change the world rather than engaging in a dialogue about arguments reasonably presented to you. There’s nothing like avoiding an argument by trying to take it personal and turn it into a morality play.

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