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Pedestrian Safety

Woman Hit By Driver on Park Presidio Remains in Critical Condition

2:50 PM PST on February 24, 2011

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A woman struck by an SUV driver while crossing Park Presidio Boulevard in the Richmond District Tuesday afternoon remains in critical condition, according to San Francisco Police.

Officer Eric Chiang told Streetsblog the woman was crossing the residential highway westbound along Anza Street when a 92-year-old male driver turning left onto Park Presidio from the same direction crashed into her. The driver "wasn't paying attention" at the time of the crash, the SFPD told the Examiner. The woman in her 50's may have incurred life-threatening injuries to her pelvis and head.

The potentially fatal crash is indicative of the dangerous walking conditions caused by the high-speed, high-volume motor traffic traveling on Park Presidio.

"Park Presidio is basically a highway running through a residential area, so it's a dangerous situation," said WalkSF executive director Elizabeth Stampe. "It really points to the need by the city to do traffic-calming on its big arterial streets where people get injured the most."

The one-mile road connects elevated freeways in Golden Gate Park and the Presidio along California's Highway 1 route, and nearby residents say many drivers there stay stuck in a highway mentality, neglecting to look for pedestrians.

"A lot of drivers, especially there, just look for other drivers while turning onto the street, not realizing there's somebody still crossing," said Therese Bataclan, a former resident of the Inner Richmond District who regularly crossed the road to access the 28 bus line. "It's always pretty tough because there aren't any countdown timers on a lot of the intersections, so I'd frequently find myself stopping in the middle of the island because the light turns yellow and I'd have to wait. A lot of people have to do that."

Although initial reports from the SFPD have yet to determine who was at fault in Tuesday's crash, Stampe pointed out that state law requires drivers to always yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. Failure to yield remains "the biggest cause of people being hit by cars in the city," she said.

The SFMTA has said the main obstacle to making pedestrian improvements on Park Presidio is Caltrans, the agency that oversees the state's highways, and holds jurisdiction. However, inter-agency cooperation has so far brought some upgrades like countdown signals, lower speed limits, and double-fine zones as part of the 19th Avenue/Park Presidio Plan, noted Stampe.

A 2010 drop in vehicle crashes observed in double-fine zones along some of the city's arterial roads have led some to praise the measures. "It's better than it used to be, but when you go out there you still see that it's a wide, fast, dangerous street," added Stampe.

SFPD records show a driver hit a pedestrian on Park Presidio about one year ago at the Clement intersection just two blocks away. In 2009, two pedestrians were struck along the road.

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