Man Killed by Muni Bus Driver at Closed Crosswalk Outside Geary Tunnel

Image: CBS 5

A man was hit and killed by a Muni bus driver on Geary Boulevard at Lyon Street on Monday at 1:15 a.m., according to media reports. Both crosswalks across Geary are closed at that intersection, just east of the Masonic tunnel, leaving a roughly 1,000-foot gap between crosswalks at Presidio Avenue and at Baker Street.

The man, who hasn’t been identified, is the 12th pedestrian to be killed on San Francisco streets this year.

“His death is all the more tragic, given the crash occurred on Geary — long identified as one of the six percent of streets which make up the city’s high-injury corridors and account for over 60 percent of crashes involving pedestrians,” said Natalie Burdick of Walk SF.

As we wrote last week, closed crosswalks remain even in SF’s most walkable neighborhoods, vestiges of 20th-century planning efforts to whisk cars down traffic sewers like the Geary expressway.

At intersections like Geary and Lyon, people are entirely banned from crossing Geary and instead are expected to spend five minutes (at standard walking speeds) walking to a different intersection and back. The extra 1,000 feet pose an impractical proposition for many people, particularly when traffic volumes are low — too often resulting in fatal outcomes for those who instead attempt the most direct path.

There are currently no plans to re-configure the intersection, or to close the Masonic tunnel and bring Geary back to grade. The tunnel also prevented center-running transit lanes from being built east of the Richmond District as part of the Geary Bus Rapid Transit project.

“The city made a laudable commitment to Vision Zero,” an end to traffic deaths, said Burdick. “However, this latest loss of life is a painful reminder of how far the city currently remains from implementing the engineering solutions critical to reducing the number of serious and fatal injuries, which continue to plague the city.”

Geary at Lyon, looking towards the Masonic tunnel, where the nearest crosswalks are nearly 500 feet away. Image: Google Maps
The nearest crosswalks, at Presidio and Baker, are about 1,000 feet apart. Image: Google Maps
  • Mario Tanev

    Somehow we hear a lot of complaints about stop consolidation in TEP, which mostly changes the spacing from ~500 feet to ~1000 feet. To put it in perspective, ~1000 feet stop spacing means it’s a 500 feet walk to the nearest stop.

    Yet here you have 1000 feet (double that) just to cross the street and I only hear victim-blaming (read the comment sections of other publications).

  • HuckieCA

    Actually, what you’ve just cited is incorrect. If you are at Lyon Street, it’s 500 feet to either Presido or Baker. The 1000 feet quoted in the article is between Presidio and Baker, so similar to TEP, it’s a maximum 500 ft walk to the nearest crosswalk.

  • Mario Tanev

    So 500 feet to either Presidio or Baker, then another 500 back to Lyon, makes what? 1000 feet. So, 1000 feet to cross the street.

  • HuckieCA

    Yes, that is a fair assessment. Of course, with TEP, it’s also a maximum of 1000 ft, 500 ft to get from your origin to your entrance stop, and 500 ft to get from your exit stop to your destination. :-/

  • Thanks for “Yes, that is a fair assessment.”

  • HuckieCA

    My point was, in this instance, it’s really not double TEP. That being said, there also isn’t any real reason why you couldn’t put a crossing, at least on the east side of the intersection, or a mid-block crossing just east of Lyon St.

  • Mario Tanev

    Assuming the current spacing is 500 feet, then the current maximum walk is 250 feet on each end. So, assuming the stops on both ends were eliminated and the person really was closest to those stops, the net increase in walking distance is 500 feet.

    Whereas in this case, the pass of desire distance is 0 feet, but the person is forced to walk 1000 feet, for a net increase in walking distance of 1000 feet.

    Of course if you only look at absolute values, you’re right, it’s 1000 feet in either case.

  • Bruce

    This doesn’t diminish the point Aaron is trying to make, nor justify the horrendously unsafe conditions for peds at this location, but all the same the article title is slightly misleading. It’s not really the crosswalk that is closed (not in the same sense as those in Hayes Valley where naught but a sign prevents those ne’er-do-well jaywalkers from crossing), but rather Lyon Street itself basically ends on each side of Geary and continues anew on the other side. Even northbound or southbound cars must detour onto Geary.

  • p_chazz

    Until the 1940’s there was no Lyon Street south of Geary–it was Calvary Cemetery.

  • Don’t Ever Change Ever

    It looks like the northwest corner is missing the “No crossing” sign that’s on every other corner, so legally there’s an unmarked crosswalk for pedestrians traveling south on the west side of Lyon to cross to the opposite corner across Geary.

    Perhaps the sign wasn’t installed there or was removed because it blocked access to the parking lot for Tony’s Cable Car Restaurant.

  • Greg

    Walking 1,000 feet is an impractical proposition for many people?

  • jonobate

    It’s pretty terrible that Geary BRT failed to set out a long-term plan for the Masonic and Fillmore underpasses. Given that funding isn’t available to fix these underpasses, Geary BRT should have been done as a phased project, with the downtown and Richmond sections implemented now, and Palm to Gough implemented at a later date.

    As things stand this section will be stuck with side-running bus lanes and these horrible underpasses indefinitely. Those could have been created through an SFTMA Engineering hearing as an interim measure until funding was available to do the section properly.

    The obvious solution for both of these underpasses is to fill them in – there’s simply no reason for them to exist.

  • gneiss

    When the alternative is to simply cross the street – yes. It borders on criminally negligent to install a dangerous freeway like high speed street in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

  • HuckieCA

    Our transportation system must balance Safety, Efficiency, Convenience, and Cost Effectiveness, across multiple modes of travel. I don’t really subscribe to the notion that convenience, especially convenience for only one mode of travel, must always take precedent. I thought that the TEP analogy was good, and being asked to walk 1000 ft in a few isolated locations to cross a major thoroughfare, is not unreasonable. We are talking about a 4 minute detour, and if this truly only in some isolated locations, where there’s some other factor that takes precedent, e.g., safety, then I”m OK with that. In this case, pedestrian crossing at that intersection is prohibited because of the road geometry (exit, merging lanes, no room for a mid-street protection median) and grade issues (on the west side).

    Now, if the case could be made that this is a location with very high pedestrian traffic that wants to cross right there (a bus stop, a park, some sort of community center or service), or if the case could be made that many (not even most, just many) of the inconvenienced pedestrians were mobility challenged (a nearby senior center, etc.), then I think that there would be a clear case as to why this particular location should be modified.

  • murphstahoe

    wrong. In the case of the pedestrian, the value is 1000 feet. No more , no less. In the case of bus rider with stops 1000 feet apart, the *maximum* walk distance per trip is 1000 feet, but it could be as small as zero. The average would be 500.

  • murphstahoe

    This 4 minute delay is in place to save every motorist from a 2 second delay.

  • murphstahoe

    Wait a minute. On the other thread you went into a fit that all we care about is bikes and there are disabled and elderly people who cannot bike. Now all of a sudden everyone can walk 1000 feet, no problem.

  • HuckieCA

    No, the 4 minute delay is not to save every motorist from a 2 second delay. It’s to save the city from probably having to spent about $1M to bring that intersection up to the current specs of what would be considered a safe crosswalk and compliant with ADA standards. And, even if it was a delay imposed on one form of travel vs. another, those are trade-offs that have to be made sometimes. I don’t see anyone on here crying a river when a 10-minute delay gets added to someone’s auto commute, but no delay is acceptable for pedestrians? Let’s at least keep this at a reasonable level of discussion. :-/

  • murphstahoe

    I don’t see you crying a river when we spend over a billion dollars to bring Doyle Drive up to the current specs of what would be considered safe. By your standards we should just close it down. They can just take Lincoln or any number of other roads through our National Park, the Presidio.

  • Andy Chow

    To be a safe crosswalk there you need to make it signalized. If the crosswalk is synced like other signals along Geary, delays to auto is not significant, but it requires money that could’ve spent to improve crossing elsewhere where it is more needed.

  • HuckieCA

    I’m not sure how to explain this, because you really don’t seem to be understanding that concept of there needing to be a balance between competing goals, and/or lack of infinite resources. There are lots of things I’d rather our government not spend money on. I’ve also never used Doyle Drive, but clearly someone made a decision that that project was a worthwhile cost to achieve one of our collective mobility goals. Don’t like it, figure out who it was and work to vote them out of office.

    My point was, we clearly can’t prioritize convenience for everyone all the time, and had you read my post, you’d have seen that I listed a whole bunch of arguments that I would consider compelling reasons to justify changing the design. Inconveniencing what is probably a relatively few people to walk 1000 ft (aka, one block) out of their way is acceptable to me, albeit the edge of acceptable. Now, if this was routine, I’d say no, if this was inconveniencing lots of people, I’d say no, or if it was inconveniencing a good number of people with mobility problems, I’d say no, not acceptable. If you look at the Google map, the main attraction, the shopping mall, doesn’t even have an entrance on that corner, and I would imagine, that was completely intentional.

  • Bruce

    The Fillmore one is easy. The Masonic one is hard.

  • Bruce

    Legally it’s a divided highway, and the intersection does not extend across (even for autos), so there is no unmarked crosswalk.

  • Don’t Ever Change Ever

    While obviously no reasonable person would infer that the intersection in question was meant for pedestrians, technically it could be an unmarked crosswalk.

    California’s definition of a crosswalk makes no distinction between a divided highway or any other type of road:

    “(a) That portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks at intersections where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles, except the prolongation of such lines from an alley across a street.”

    Furthermore, California’s definition of an intersection does not require one street to cross another:

    “An ‘intersection’ is the area embraced within the prolongation of the property lines of two or more streets which join at an angle, whether or not one such street crosses the other.”

  • murphstahoe

    Let’s say some traffic changing item could have been put in a place on Folsom for 1 million that saves Amelie Le Moullac’s life. Aside from the emotional component, Le Moullac was 24 and by all accounts a very productive young woman. She would almost certainly pay many times 1 million dollars in taxes over her lifetime, and accelerate money into the economy many times past that.

    We have a clear example here – it is not just time, it’s also safety. And making the statement that it is the pedestrians fault will fall on deaf ears – results are what matter.

  • jonobate

    Why? It’s exactly the same as Fillmore, except it’s four lanes wide instead of six, and it goes under two intersections instead of one.

  • Bruce

    Not as much right-of-way, especially if a station is to be built there. Plus it’s asymmetrical, and the left turns from westbound Geary onto Masonic (currently one of the busiest maneuvers) would probably have to be banned, causing problems elsewhere.

    Oh, and there are houses and driveways along the outer Masonic roadways, which aren’t as much of a problem at Fillmore (except the KFC/Taco Bell eastbound at Steiner).

  • jonobate

    Plenty of right of way. I would argue for simply filling in the underpass and bringing the four underground lanes to the surface rather than trying to build a station down there. That gives at least six surface travel lanes + two surface parking lanes on the block east of Presidio and the block west of Masonic.

    There are already six surface travel lanes + one surface parking lane on the block in between Masonic and Presidio. You could find space for another two travel lanes (left turns onto Masonic) by removing the parking and that scrubby median. The BRT station would probably be located on the west side of the intersection with Masonic, where there is more space and turn lanes are less necessary.

    I’m not sure why the driveways effect anything – there are already driveways opening out onto Geary in many places where it is a six-lane surface road.

  • Dark Soul

    I though this was specifically about the man who got killed for crossing a closed crosswalk

  • Jesse

    Is this the same Greg that’s bitching and moaning how about how difficult it could be to sit in a private, climate controlled vehicle, suffering such grave injustices like being stuck in gridlock or circling around for parking?

  • jonobate

    Filling in the underpass would allow the crosswalk the man got killed in to be reopened.

  • Dark Soul

    Dont tell me they going start putting crosswalk/traffic lights there just because someone got into a accident in the express like road.

    When the sign says no crossing. You dont cross.

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