City Hall Crosswalk Signal Activated on Walk to Work Day

Photo: Folks for Polk/Twitter
Photo: Folks for Polk/Twitter

As public officials and safe streets advocates marked Walk to Work Day, the city activated a pedestrian signal at the mid-block crosswalk in front of City Hall, where 68-year-old Priscila Moreto was killed last October. The wide, zebra-striped crosswalk, which previously had button-activated flashing lights, now has green and red phases, so drivers have a clearer signal to come to a full stop for people crossing on foot.

Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Ferrara said the signal “is a first step, but more needs to be done along such a monumental street to demonstrate the Mayor is serious about creating a Vision Zero transportation system — a safe system that forgives.”

The new signal is not the type of change that creates a safer, more forgiving system by compelling drivers to slow down and pay attention. Instead, it creates stricter rules for everybody — including pedestrians, who can’t request a walk phase any more. It also introduces the risk that some drivers will accelerate during the yellow phase to “beat the light.”

“Walk SF really wanted to see the City’s front door transformed from a traffic sewer to a people-focused, civic space,” said Ferrara. “The road diet happening just north of City Hall offered an opportunity to reclaim excess roadway for those purposes.” She was referring to the redesign of Polk north of McAllister Street, approved by the SFMTA Board of Directors last month.

The signal was actually planned well before Moreto was killed. One change that her death did prompt is a ban on tour bus operators narrating while driving, approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Moreto was run over by a tour trolley operator who was telling his passengers about City Hall.

The ban, initiated by Supervisor Norman Yee, applies to tour buses that don’t operate outside the city. Yee told the SF Chronicle that it’s “just one more piece in the puzzle” needed to eliminate pedestrian deaths.

Photo: Paul Supawanich/Twitter

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