Eyes on the Street: Dangerous Rincon Hill Intersection Gets New Crosswalks

The new "ladder design" crosswalks on Main Street at Harrison were installed yesterday. Photos: Bryan Goebel.

SFMTA crews have installed new continental crosswalks at the intersection of Harrison and Main streets, seven years after pedestrian advocates in Rincon Hill began lobbying the agency for changes following the death of retired SF State journalism professor Beverly Kees. In addition, the pedestrian countdown signals have been timed to give pedestrians a four-second head start.

“I’m so happy to see the continental crosswalk stripes at Main and Harrison,” said Jamie Whitaker, whose relentless advocacy helped get the SFMTA to move. “I hope it will give drivers a visual indication to be aware of pedestrians walking home, walking from BART to AT&T Park, or walking to their cars parked on Port seawalls and nearby piers.”

As we wrote last month, Harrison and Main is the kind of place that’s so dangerous by design, it’s easy to see how drivers can lose their sense of humanity.  Harrison serves as a four-lane westbound arterial (there is a fifth eastbound lane) that carries 12,600 drivers daily, most headed to the Bay Bridge. Drivers routinely speed and block the crosswalk. Since 2003, three people have died there, including Kees, and many more have been injured.

According to Whitaker’s Rincon Hill blog, the improvements cost about $15,000, a “a relatively cheap solution while we await buildings to go up in the neighborhood and provide funding for capital improvements, including corner bulbouts, to our streetscapes in Rincon Hill.”

Last week, the SFMTA approved a plan to lower the speed limit on Harrison from 30 to 25 mph. Whitaker was especially grateful to the SFMTA staffers who made the changes happen. Advocates were originally told that the problem at the intersection had more to do with enforcement, and it “was not a viable  candidate for traffic calming measures.”

The crosswalk on Harrison Street.

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