The mess on Van Ness at California, scene of three pedestrian crashes last year. Photo: Bryan Goebel
When the Examiner reported
that a double-fine zone
on part of Van Ness Avenue had not only failed to reduce crashes, but that crashes had actually increased by 40 percent there in the last year, it raised eyebrows. Now that SFPD has released detailed crash statistics for 2009, a closer look reveals an even more alarming figure: pedestrian crashes along Van Ness Avenue's double-fine zone quadrupled in 2009 compared to 2008.
The number of recorded pedestrian crashes leaped from four in 2008 to sixteen in 2009 on the stretch of Van Ness Avenue between Golden Gate and Lombard Avenues, where the double-fine zone is in effect. Crashes in which police deemed pedestrians at fault held steady at three, but the number of crashes where drivers were found at fault skyrocketed from one in 2008 to 13 in 2009.
Those stats have left pedestrian safety advocates wondering what's happening on Van Ness Avenue.
"It's hard to draw any conclusions after one year," said Manish Champsee, President of Walk SF. "I would call on the city and the state to really examine what's going on and look at all of the injuries, the situations, ... and try to formulate some conclusions and maybe start doing some enforcement on Van Ness."
Perhaps even more astonishingly, drivers fled the scene in five of the 16 pedestrian crashes last year. "I'm floored by that," said Champsee. None
of the 2008 crashes were hit-and-runs.
On January 1st of last year, Van Ness Avenue from Golden Gate Street to Lombard Street and 19th Avenue in the Sunset were made double-fine zones. Van Ness is the baseline for the double-fine zone experiment, while 19th Avenue has received many additional safety enhancements, including increased police presence, streetscape upgrades, pedestrian countdown signals, and a reduced speed limit.
Those additional enhancements seem to have paid off on 19th Avenue: pedestrian crashes were down from 17 in 2008 to 14 in 2009, and all crashes were down by 13 percent, from 116 to 101.
But without stepped-up enforcement or other traffic calming measures on Van Ness Avenue, the double-fine zone failed to stem a major increase in recorded crashes. Read more...