Streetfilms: Introducing the Pedestrian Peek-A-Boo

This excellent Streetfilm from Robin Urban Smith and Clarence Eckerson is another in a series of vids on cheap and effective streetscape alterations that improve safety for all users. Writes Robin: 

is a simple pedestrian safety
measure achieved by removing parking spaces adjacent to curbs
around an intersection, increasing visibility for pedestrians and
drivers and
minimizing conflicts. It’s beneficial to young and old, but is
especially helpful to children, who often cannot see, or be seen by,
oncoming traffic. By removing parking adjacent to the crosswalk, the
child does not have to wade into the street to see vehicles entering
the intersection.
At the same time, drivers don’t have to roll into the crosswalk
to see if pedestrians are waiting to cross.

the Streetfilms crew thinks the term "daylighting" is "a little stale,"
and asks viewers to come up with their own terms. Clarence suggests
"Pedestrian Peek-a-Boo." If you can top that one, have at it.

  • The national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices recommends at least 20 feet of no parking away from the crosswalk. However the City has an exemption to this rule in order to create that one extra parking space on each block, because parking is sacrosanct.

    The draft Better Streets plan unsucessfully tried to create a 20-foot zone, but ultimately compromised on 10 feet (20 at signalized intersections). Those silly planners always forget that in SF, parking spaces are more important than pedestrian safety.

    Kids should be inside playing video games, not out in the street!

  • AP

    It’s also important to remember that in addition to parked cars all the way up to the crosswalk, DPW, MTA, and all the private utilities find pleasure in placing poles, 4-6′ tall traffic control boxes, telephone closets, and just about anything else they can find right on the corner, doing their absolute best to block any visibility of the pedestrian. Pulling parked cars back from the intersection is an important first step.

  • I have a hard time believing that this actually helps pedestrians. Having cars parked right up to the edge of the crosswalk means that drivers have to slow down more before turning because they know they can’t see around the corner from far away. Only make this change if accompanied by curb extensions to guarantee that drivers can’t take the turn too fast.

  • AW

    Eric Fisher – You’re correct that without the corner bulb-out, cars could make the turns faster around the corner. Assuming that there’s no bulb-out, whether or not the improved visibility at the corner outweighs this side effect is for the experts to figure out.

    Greg – Because parking is so tough to find in SF, the reality is that a lot of these red zone at every corner is going to have a parked car anyway, especially at nighttime when parking enforcement is less and, ironically, when pedestrians are hardest to see. Is nighttime also when you see the most cars parked on a sidewalk? Food for thought.

    AP – The fronting property owners object to anything and everything installed in front of their house. Ever wonder why sign posts are installed in between two houses along the property line instead of favoring one house over the other? Also, have you ever thought about how, from a utility standpoint, a street corner can serve two or more streets from a single point, which of course leads to 50% less sidewalk furniture?


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