Drivers Hit Two Seniors in Two Days at Castro and 19th Crosswalk

Photo: Bryan Goebel
On Tuesday and Wednesday, drivers hit seniors in the eastern crosswalk crossing 19th Street at Castro Street. Wednesday’s crash scene is pictured here. Photo: Bryan Goebel

Two seniors were injured by drivers in a crosswalk at 19th and Castro Streets in separate crashes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bryan Goebel, Streetsblog SF’s first editor, and his neighbor Hank Cancel happened upon the aftermath of the crashes.

Both victims sustained minor injures, according to Goebel and Cancel. But they said close calls with reckless drivers are routine at the intersection.

On Tuesday, a woman and man who appeared to be in their late 60s were crossing 19th in the intersection’s eastern crosswalk when the woman was hit by a driver making a right turn from northbound Castro. Cancel said the woman scraped her knee, and the female driver exchanged information with her, but nobody called 911.

Based on talking with the driver and victim, Cancel thinks the driver may have whipped quickly around the turn, as he sees many drivers do at the corner after coming down the hill on Castro. “The back of her car hit the pedestrian, because she didn’t actually wait for the pedestrian to clear the crosswalk,” he said.

On Tuesday, a driver (the woman left of the man) hit a woman (seen wearing a hat) while turning right at the same crosswalk. Photo: Hank Cancel
On Tuesday, a driver (the woman left of the man) hit a woman (seen wearing a hat) while turning right at the same crosswalk. Photo: Hank Cancel

On Wednesday, a man who also appeared to be in his late 60s was hospitalized after he was hit in the same crosswalk by a pickup truck driver making a left turn from southbound Castro on to eastbound 19th. Based on a police description, Goebel said, “Another car that was on 19th had pulled into the intersection, and that truck had sped around it as he turned. And because there was this other car in the intersection, the driver apparently did not see that the pedestrian was crossing.”

Cancel, who was also at the scene, thinks the driver must have been distracted. “The driver was going forward, but he wasn’t looking forward,” he said. “That crosswalk couldn’t be bigger — it’s huge, it’s yellow.”

In Wednesday’s crash, an elderly man (seen here sitting on a stretcher) was injured by a driver making a left turn (seen in a blue shirt and jeans). Photo: Bryan Goebel

The crosswalks were upgraded with more visible striping last year as part of a redesign on Castro. Safety upgrades at 19th, including sidewalk bulb-outs, were among four options for how to spend one portion of the project’s budget, but respondents to a neighborhood survey favored a package of permanent improvements to Jane Warner Plaza instead.

“Every streetscape project has to have a boundary, and unfortunately, the funding for the Castro Streetscape project only allowed improvements north of the 19th Street intersection,” said D8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who got the funding for the Castro redesign. “At the same time, we must be aggressive in implementing roadway improvements aimed at advancing road safety citywide.” Wiener noted that he pushed Proposition B, approved by voters in November, “which in this first year, will advance more than $6 million for street safety improvements citywide.”

Until traffic calming improvements are made, neighbors can expect drivers to continue flying down the hill on Castro and using 19th as a cut-through route, as Goebel and Cancel described.

“I hear from my window pedestrians cursing at drivers frequently,” said Goebel.

  • p_chazz

    Crosswalks give pedestrians a false sense of security. Drivers turning from one street to another are frequently looking right and left for cars in their path, but not straight ahead at the pedestrian right in front of him or her. Both times I was hit by cars, it was in a crosswalk when I had the right of way.

  • bobster1985

    We need speed bumps!

  • Easy

    This is also 1 block from an elementary school.

  • voltairesmistress

    Aaron, could you please correct paragraph #3 for the direction 19th Street runs? It is an east-west street, so the driver probably turned right from northbound Castro Street, in order to drive eastbound on 19th when he/she hit the two seniors in the crosswalk.

  • voltairesmistress

    So true.

  • HuckieCA

    Castro and 19th is a 4-way stop. I’m not exactly sure that speed bumps would do anything. The problem is people being impatient and not checking the crosswalk adequately.

  • It’s a good thing pedestrians don’t mind getting hit by cars, otherwise drivers might have to spend a whole five seconds at every four way stop to keep from smacking them. Add enough four way stops, and it might take a whole extra two minutes to get where you’re going. Ridiculous!

    First of all, it’s a huge inconvenience to actually stop at a four-way. Rolling through is what everyone does, as long as there are no other cars. To actually check for pedestrians is a total drag because every car has blind spots and they’re not so easy to see around. Hey, it isn’t my fault if some little old lady is lurking right in the middle of mine. Get a clue, old lady, wave at the driver, and if he doesn’t wave back, let that fella go or he’ll run you over!

    Then, if there actually is a pedestrian in the crosswalk, life as we know it is just about over. It takes them freaking forever to get out of the way, especially if they’re old. You might as well pull out your phone and check your texts. Or do your nails. Or grow a beard, so much time will go by. It’s completely unreasonable to expect drivers to wait like this. No wonder drivers jump the gun sometimes. This is why smart pedestrians don’t put a toe out into the street until there are no cars anywhere near. They know their place.

    Only losers walk anyway. Real people–people who pay taxes, people who buy things–drive. And as well all know, time is money, which is why drivers race through the city as fast as they absolutely can while simultaneously performing as many communication and personal hygiene tasks as possible. (It’s not distraction–it’s multi-tasking!) It’s also why the city gives highest priority to cars and lets everyone else visit the ER with broken bones. (Hey, if they have time to walk, they have time to sit in ER rooms!) Look, no one in government cares whether a car brushes the leg of some slowpoke in a crosswalk. But if it takes me an extra minute to get to the gym for my workout, we’ve got a public crisis on our hands.

  • jd_x

    You forgot one important point: think about how horrible both these drivers must feel! Probably ruined their day. Or something. They might even have to think about it again next week a couple times and will be driving really careful as a result. God forbid! And before they totally forget about the incident next month and are back to driving their 2-ton machines irresponsibly, they will constantly have to relive the moment a crazy old pedestrian just “jumped out of nowhere right in front of them” and how they almost got a ticket as a result even though it was that silly old pedestrian’s fault for daring to use the street without being in a 2-ton machine.

    i think we should all try to put ourselves in the place of these poor motorists and understand their point of view here.

  • jd_x

    Nah, that’s a band-aid fix. We need a much more holistic, comprehensive approach to street design than slapping in some bumps. We can start with the fact that drivers who hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk not only are cited but lose their license for a significant amount of time and must do community service volunteering for a pedestrian or bicycle advocacy group. We can then add bulb-outs, daylight intersections, and make sure speed limits are not only officially 25 mph or less but are actually enforced by the police (instead of busted cyclists for rolling stop signs at empty intersections or ticketing jaywalkers).

  • Mitchell

    At least you’ve acknowledged that drivers are real people — not like those insufferable hipsters who ride gnats.

    Also please remember: those obstacles placed in the street are not traffic “calming” devices; they’re driver irritation objects!

  • Now you’re making sense Karen!

  • Amen!

  • Looks like we just need some paint and maybe cement! That usually shuts people up until the next accident from the slog of cars going in and out of an area.

  • pch1013

    A speed bump in the middle of the block on Castro between 19th and 20th (like the one on the big hill on 17th) might help.

  • HuckieCA

    None of these reports indicated that anyone blew threw the stop sign. They were both turning vehicles, i.e., they came to stop at a stop sign, and then proceeded when the intersection wasn’t clear. You may as well put the speed bump in Alabama for all the good it would do in either of these crashes. :-/

  • pch1013

    Well, from the description of one of the drivers “whipping” around the corner after coming down the hill, it sounds like they may have been carrying excessive speed as they approached the intersection.

  • Dave S

    How about cutting down that tree the provides a dark shadow on the roadway right on the crosswalk? On a bright sunny day it can be nearly impossible to see a pedestrian right in front of you in a crosswalk when they are hidden in a shadow (especially if they are wearing dark clothes).

  • thielges

    Well for completeness we’d have to do the same with other things casting shadows on corners, and that’s a lot of stuff in the city.

    Or we could expect drivers to take the time to properly scan the intersection before proceeding. Poor visibility requires more time.

  • TellUWut

    This is satire, right? I sincerely hope so, or I think the DMV should be strongly reconsidering that little card that allows you to drive in the first place.

  • NoeValleyJim

    This is only one solution for this carnage, and that is fewer cars on the road.

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