Noticed More “Continental” Crosswalks? They’re Now Standard on SF Streets

Irving Street and 10th Avenue on Halloween. Photo: Aaron Bialick

It’s not your imagination — crosswalks around San Francisco are being upgraded more rapidly to the “continental” striping style, also known as “ladder” or “zebra-striped” crosswalks, to make people more visible to drivers when they’re crossing the street.

The SFMTA has ditched its traditional crosswalk design comprised of two white lines along the length of a crosswalk, since studies from the Federal Highway Administration have shown continental stripes are much more effective at getting drivers to yield the right-of-way, said Ben Jose, spokesperson for the SFMTA’s Livable Streets subdivision.

“Until recently, San Francisco primarily implemented continental crosswalks at mid-block and school area crosswalks,” Jose wrote in an email. “The SFMTA’s current goal is to gradually enhance all crosswalk markings to the high-visibility continental marking pattern.”

The SFMTA adds the treatment whenever there’s an opportunity like a street re-paving, Jose said. Those are occurring more rapidly with the bond funds made available by Prop B. I’ve recently spotted the new crosswalks on streets from Irving in my neighborhood, the Inner Sunset, to Powell Street in Union Square, one of the busiest pedestrian streets in the country. (Finally!)

Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Schneider applauded the agency’s move to adopt zebra crosswalks on a wide scale. ”The ladder-style striping helps drivers distinguish the crosswalk from other roadway markings much sooner than the old fashioned double lines,” said Schneider. “This is one example of a quick, cheap, and smart way to prevent pedestrian injuries.”

As a reminder, 964 pedestrians were injured on SF streets last year. This year, 12 have been killed. In 2011, motorists’ failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk was the most-cited cause of pedestrian injury, comprising 40 percent of cases, according to the SFMTA’s 2010-2011 Collisions Report [PDF].