No Citation for Driver Who Ran Over Woman at Pine and Front

An officer speaks with the young man identified by one witness as the driver. Photo: Patrick Carroll

The driver who ran over a woman in a crosswalk at Pine and Front Streets in the Financial District last Thursday will not receive a citation despite being found at fault, the SFPD told Streetsblog.

Police confirmed that the victim had the walk signal as she made her way through the west crosswalk along Front at 11:55 a.m., walking south, when the driver hit her as he made a left turn from northbound Front to westbound Pine. An officer said the woman’s injuries were not life-threatening, and the driver will not be cited. The officer would not say why.

“If a driver not only fails to yield at the crosswalk but also hits and hurts someone, it’s pretty clear: there should be a penalty,” said Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe, who noted that the SFPD recently “issued a statement committing to more frequent and visible enforcement of the laws that protect people on foot.”

“We expect the police to keep our streets safe; we expect to see them enforcing the laws that protect us,” she added. This is far from the first time the SFPD hasn’t cited a driver despite clear evidence. SFPD only cited a driver who was videotaped running over a man in a crosswalk in the Tenderloin after an outcry from pedestrian advocates.

Police wouldn’t disclose any information about the driver or the victim in yesterday’s crash, but a photo from Streetsblog reader Patrick Carroll shows an officer speaking with a man who appears to be in his late teens and the black Ford Mustang Carroll said he appeared to have been driving. Carroll noted that drivers often speed through the turn onto Pine to make the green light. Two turn lanes from Front Street funnel traffic over the crosswalk where the victim was struck.

“The SFMTA really needs to get rid of double-lane turns wherever possible,” said Stampe. “Those are incredibly dangerous for people on foot.”
  • mikesonn

    Cue CW outrage…3…2…Oh wait, never mind.

  • Did anyone seriously expect the SFPD would impinge the time-tested rights of San Francisco motorists to hit pedestrians without consequence?

  • Anonymous

    Is 11:55pm correct? Looks like broad daylight. Maybe 11:55am?

  • Anonymous

    All vehicles are created equal, except some vehicles are more equal than others. Four wheels good! Two wheels bad! Four wheels good! Two legs bad!

  • The Greasybear

    No citation for the harmful motorist, of course, and there won’t be any breathless, wall-to-wall weeklong coverage in the corporate media outlets, either, because pedestrian safety only matters when it means pandering to–and hysterically inflaming–existing opposition to the revival of urban bicycling.

  • Aaron Bialick

    Yep, I had just corrected that! Thanks.

  • mikesonn

    Not to mention that this would require SFGate to actually cover this incident, which I don’t believe they ever mentioned when it happened.

  • It is definitely curious that the ratio of media coverage to mode of accident is pretty much inverse to the actual threat. The harm cars inflict on pedestrians, not only in San Francisco but in most cities, far overwhelms any other possible danger pedestrians might experience. (Have you ever perused the NYC Streetblog weekly carnage report? It’s horrifying.) It’s also curious how lackadaisical SFPD’s response is to a major source of death and mayhem in the city given that their mission statement asserts that their highest priority is “the protection of human life.” In 2009 (the latest California Traffic Safety data available for San Francisco), 39 people were killed in traffic accidents in SF and 45 people were murdered. 3405 people that year were injured by cars. (And those are just the injuries that got reported.) In comparison, there were 179 rapes and 2310 assaults that year in our fair city. On the protection of human life index, preventing death and injury by car seems like it should rank pretty high.

    Maybe it gets down to our use of the word “accident,” defined to be an event that happens by chance or that is without deliberate intention or cause. We can’t prevent bad luck, we say with a shrug. The driver certainly didn’t *mean* to hit that pedestrian. And so we label the crash an “accident” without ever looking at the deliberate cause–which was driving in a way that was unsafe for conditions.  Speeding.  Not stopping. Not looking for pedestrians. All these are actually preventable.  All reflect a deliberate choice. Traffic crashes may not be intentional, they may indeed be the result of momentary distraction, momentary poor judgement, but they are due to someone choosing to run a light, change their radio station, answer their phone. They are due to someone choosing to speed, not taking due caution. As I indicated on another post, I highly recommend this video of the Dutch campaign to make driver’s recognize their responsibility on the road. It’s a completely opposite paradigm to our own. 

    So why do we want to believe traffic injuries and deaths are unavoidable and not the responsibility of the driver that caused them? One answer is that we Americans really, really like cars, believe we need them and can’t do without them. Traffic fatalities, of not only pedestrians and bicyclists, but of *car drivers* and *car passengers* themselves, are unfortunate but (shrug) they are the price we pay for our car-based society. And we, as a nation, are okay with this. We could organize ourselves differently (perhaps we would get places more slowly, perhaps more of the nation’s wealth would be tied up in collective infrastructure like trains and light rail rather than personal vehicles) and we choose not to. Though it may seem unreasonable from the point of view of facts, by not being concerned with the carnage caused by cars, our police and our newspapers are accurately reflecting our collective societal values.

    But there is also the economic perspective which may shed some light. Consider the car driver versus the pedestrian in most collisions. Let’s call them Dan Driver and Paula Ped. Dan spends a great deal of money on his car (or, if he’s young, his parents do it for him.)  His money flows to car manufacturers, bank loans, gas stations, car insurers, oil companies, auto mechanics, auto part suppliers, car washes, even to city coffers via parking tickets. To make her journeys Paula buys, what, an extra pair of shoes once in a while? Yes, this means she may have more money to spend on restaurants, etc. and she may be more prone to shop locally, but restaurants and local businesses do not carry much clout with media that depend on advertising from the companies Dan supports. Worse, she may desire to retire someday and so–horror–save the money rather than spend it.

    Almost as good as his direct contribution to the economy, Dan, directly or indirectly, is sending people to the hospital for expensive treatment!  Does Paula create ER asthma visits? No, she does not. Does she cause cancer that requires tests, treatment, and medication? No, she does not. In fact, because she walks, she’s likely healthy enough she probably doesn’t go the doctor much herself. Until Dan hits her, that is. Then she adds to the GDP right and left with a nice expensive surgery and hospital stay. Health care comprises 17% of our national GDP.  Good health does nothing for our GDP.  Cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and traffic accidents, on the other hand, are a bonanza to hospitals and drug companies. And then our health care premiums go up!  More GDP! More profits! Yes, as a result medicare and government programs increase in cost as well, but no problem, government debt increases the GDP! (And with the Federal Reserve indirectly buying US treasuries there is no apparent end to government debt.) By burning gasoline, Dan is also nicely contributing to climate change in a way wimpy Paula cannot dream of doing. Just think of the jobs and economic benefits once sea levels rise, coastal cities are flooded and drought and famine circle the globe. GDP will go through the roof, and the funeral parlor business will be pretty smoking, too.

    Maintaining health, keeping people out of hospitals, conserving resources, preserving life, saving money, preserving the environment–from a GDP standpoint there is absolutely no reason to do any of this.

  • Greg

    Not to worry, I can assure you the SFPD takes pedestrian safety seriously. I recently got a citation for failing to yield to pedestrians, after rolling through a crosswalk on market on my bike at approximately 5mph. I didn’t hit anyone or even violate anyone’s right of way, but there was technically still a pedestrian in the crosswalk, whom I went behind. SFPD are sticklers for the rules, and won’t let even letter-of-the-law violations go when it comes to keeping pedestrians safe. Keep up the good work, coppers!

  • Chris

    There was a signaled double right turn lane on Battery and Pine which was removed about a month ago. Maybe this one is next?

  • Anonymous

    I hope so!

  • Anonymous

    If there is going to be a double turn lane here, then the city needs to install a scramble light that stops traffic in both directions to give pedestrians a leg up, no pun intended.

    I think the police regard car-ped collisions the same way they do minor fender benders.  When two drivers get into a minor scrape, they exchange phone numbers and go about their business. If the damage is significant, they may report it to their insurance companies, or not if they don’t want their rates to go up. The police only get involved if the driver’s violations is egregious–speeding, DUI, etc.

    I was knocked down by a driver making a left hand turn at an intersection. When I got up from the pavement to confront him, he drove away. I reported it to Mission Station the next day and they refused to take the report–they told me it was too late. I didn’t believe them, so I went to the hit-and-run detail at 850 Bryant. They took the report and contacted the driver, whose license plate number I had copied down. He could have denied it and it would have been my word against his, but he felt bad about leaving the scene of an accident, so he confessed to the police. Since he was an elderly man who had never had a moving violation, the police officer told him to report it to his insurance company and declined to charge him. I was contacted by an insurance adjuster, and received $1,500.

  • Anonymous

    a photo from Streetsblog reader Patrick Carroll show officers speaking with a man who appears to be in his late teens and the black Ford Mustang Carroll said he appeared to have been driving.

    If the media is going to create negative stereotypes, one would think it would be teenagers speeding in black mustangs, not hipsters riding fixies.

  • ubringliten

     Hi Greg,

    After you went behind the pedestrians, you still got a ticket?  Isn’t that considered yielding?

  • My understanding is that you have to let the intersection clear. As someone who walks across intersections with a dog or with a toddler, both of whom are subject to random changes in direction even while being held tightly, I think this is prudent.

  • Greg

     Yes, the law is that you have to let the intersection clear. I don’t have a problem with that being the rule, but I’ve NEVER seen this enforced against drivers making turns across a crosswalk where pedestrians have the walk signal. I freely admit that I was in the wrong and shouldn’t have gone through the intersection (i was also going through a red light at the time). I just wish the enforcement of these rules would be at least vaguely proportional to the actual danger that different types of violators pose.

  • My mother got a ticket like this while in her car. The pedestrian was a mother with a baby stroller. She was complaining vigorously about the money grab, the ticket was $50.

    I asked “How much if you hit someone? $100?”

    This obviously not in San Francisco, but in the police state of Niwot, Colorado.


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