At Jones and Ellis Streets today, drivers yield to pedestrians at a corner clear of parked cars. Photo: Aaron Bialick
The SFMTA recently implemented a simple measure to improve visibility at crosswalks in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood with very high concentrations of both pedestrian injuries and children.
Corners at 80 intersections got the “daylighting” treatment, which improves visibility by clearing parked cars that obscure sightlines between drivers and people in crosswalks. It’s one of the latest efforts in the city’s Vision Zero campaign, which is targeting the 12 percent of city streets that account for 70 percent of severe and fatal traffic injuries.
To hear KPIX reporter Ken Bastida tell it, these measures to reduce traffic violence are just an annoyance for people who need to find a curbside parking spot right now.
Ken Bastida solved the mystery of the “vanishing meters.” Image: KPIX
“Think it’s getting harder to park in San Francisco? Well, it is,” Bastida said by way of introduction alongside the text, “Vanishing meters.”
Here’s how Bastida explained daylighting (a “fancy word”) in his best muckraker voice: “The curb gets painted red, the meter disappears, and we’re left with what the city calls ‘a safer intersection.'” Truly a devious plan by the city.
Bastida didn’t cite any safety statistics or interview anyone on camera who uses the crosswalks, but he did find a driver to complain about how hard it is to find a parking space. With testimony from that one guy in the bag, Bastida then declared, “Frustrated drivers say they’re all for safety, but they’re quick to point out, visibility is a two-way street.” Apparently, we’ve all got to wear more DayGlo.
What Bastida didn’t mention is that drivers’ failure to yield in a crosswalk is among the top five causes of pedestrian injuries citywide (the other four are also driver violations). That’s according to the SFPD data behind the department’s “Focus on the Five” campaign.
Tenderloin Station is actually the worst SFPD outpost in the city when it comes to focusing enforcement on those five violations. In September, the most recent month for which citation data is available, officers didn’t issue any tickets to drivers violating pedestrians’ right-of-way. However, they did manage to issue 245 tickets — 43 percent of their total — to pedestrians.