Abisai May Dzul, 24, Victim of the “Alemany Maze” Highway Tangle

The Alemany Maze. Photo: Chuck B. / my back 40 (feet)

Abisai May Dzul, 24, was killed while walking on an off-ramp in the “Alemany Maze,” the forbidding tangle of freeway ramps where Highways 101 and 280 intersect in the southeast city. The crash occurred on Sunday at about 9 p.m., according to media reports.

Walking up the Highway 101 off-ramp at Alemany Boulevard, Dzul “had been struck by at least one car and possibly a second,” the CA Highway Patrol told Bay City News. Neither of the drivers stopped.

“This Alemany interchange, like the notorious Hairball slightly to the north at Cesar Chavez, is a mess for anyone trying to walk from, say, the popular Farmers Market to catch the #9-San Bruno on Bayshore,” said Fran Taylor, who helped organize CC Puede for safer streets around the “Hairball” junction at Highway 101 and Cesar Chavez.

Last year, D10 Watch author Chris Waddling wrote about the “outright hostile conditions for pedestrians and cyclists” presented by the Alemany Maze and the Hairball, noting that “neither area is currently slated for improvement in the near term.” The Alemany Maze cuts off access between the Portola, Bayview, and Bernal Heights neighborhoods for people walking and biking.

The maze “is in desperate need of attention” from Caltrans and city agencies, Waddling wrote.

Dzul was killed on the off-ramp circled here. Image: Google Maps
The intersection on Alemany at the end of the off-ramp. Image: Google Street View
  • Boo

    I live overlooking this monster and bike through it daily. It’s a mess – I really wish it could be made better.

  • mx

    You’re right that this is a tangle and an area in need of pedestrian and cyclist improvements, but let’s remember this accident occurred because someone was walking on a freeway off-ramp. If it somehow looks like a place for pedestrians, then that should obviously be fixed. Nobody deserves to die certainly, but I also don’t think freeway off-ramps are intended to be pedestrian friendly.

    As for the drivers who didn’t bother to stop, there are no words.

  • p_chazz

    According to the news reports Dzul was walking up an off ramp, on which pedestrian access is specifically forbidden, so I fail to see how he can possibly be considered a “victim” of the Alemany Maze. Also, Google Street View shows that while this is a very inhospitable environment for pedestrians, there are pedestrian sidewalks on both sides of Alemany from Bayshore Blvd. under the freeway.

  • murphstahoe

    Some of these places – like the hairball – are so messed up it’s hard to figure out what the hell you are supposed to do.

    What is your best guess as to why he was on the offramp? Is he some sort of freeway jogger? Maybe he was just lost. Our infrastructure shouldn’t cause that. There is no “prohibited” sign on an offramp because it’s the wrong way.

    I have two friends who have wrecked their bikes and bodies on Chavez eastbound under the hairball. There is a drainage grate there which can catch a bike wheel and cause a crash.

    I suppose they could use “the path” instead. “The path” starts by riding up the sidewalk by the gas station then a gnarly whoop de doo under the freeway. After dodging broken glass and homeless guys you have a crosswalk over one freeway offramp, more bad path, then you get dumped onto another offramp. Aside from the potential that some peds/cyclists might not even know it exists, they might just consider it better and even SAFER to take their chances with the roadway.

  • guest

    Have you ever been there? The sidewalks are indistinguishable from the freeway ramps, and the ramps are indistinguishable from roads. It’s just a mess–impossible to figure out as a car or a pedestrian or a bicycle until you’ve been through it a few times.

  • Richard Mlynarik
  • Chris W

    For the past year or so I’ve been working with Supervisors Campos and Cohen on the Maze and the Hairball and both have prioritized these two areas for further study. The Portola Neighborhood Association is now working with SFCTA, Supervisor Campos, and other stakeholders and community groups to study pedestrian and bike improvements to the Alemany Maze. At the request of Supervisor Cohen, on the Hairball the SFMTA will be working on designs for improvements to the eastbound bike approach on Cesar Chavez from the gas station to Bayshore, plus the segment between Jerrold and Marin, all based on a 2012 Planning Dept study. They’ll also be looking at improving lighting in the area for pedestrians and bikes. Change may be slow, but it’s coming.

  • mx

    Great news Chris.

  • SFnative74

    I’ve seen people shuffle across the middle of busy intersections in the middle of the day with sidewalks and crosswalks all over the place. Did the infrastructure cause all those instances too?

  • Boo

    so only 25 years away! 🙂

  • Boo

    Of course we all have to be responsible for placing ourselves in harms way but the point that murphstoe is making is that way-finding for peds under this intersection is not great. Until you try it first hand I doubt you’re going to get it (like walking from San Bruno ave to the Farmers Market).

    There’s also no excuse while either of the TWO cars that hit this person didn’t even bother to stop.

  • Chris W

    Ah, you’ve worked with the City before! Yeah, it’s find money for a study, then do it, then find money for design, then do that, then find money for construction, and do that. The Hairball and Maze are complex, as they involve SFMTA, SFDPW, Caltrans, SFCTA, and a whole host of competing interests. Oh, and don’t forget someone will probably sue over something at some point. As such, these things take a long time to coordinate, study, and get agreement on. One bright spot is that starting in late 2016, DPW will begin installing curb ramps at Alemany and Putnam. This should help make the current legal route slightly more appealing, and should be complete by around mid-2017.

  • Andy Chow
  • Any person who is hit by a car, and that car doesn’t stop is automatically the victim, no matter the circumstances. Hit and run should be treated as an incredibly serious crime. If you hit someone walking on a freeway, stop and render aid. Their life could be saved. Leaving them means you intend to cause them to die. That’s not acceptable even if they are in the wrong.

  • p_chazz

    I quite agree that the driver(s) behavior was unconscionable.

  • angermuller

    Excellent project.


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