Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pedestrian Stings Target NOPA's "Dangerous Intersections"

Crossing Masonic at Fell while biking the Panhandle Path

FIX MASONIC has urged safer traffic management on the avenue

SFPD Park Station will increase “pedestrian stings” at North Panhandle intersections as part of a joint operation with Northern Station to crackdown on motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians using crosswalks. The operation follows a crackdown begun last year at select NOPA intersections.

“We focused on Fell and Masonic and also Fell at the DMV (Baker Street),” Captain Teresa Barrett of Park Station told BIKE NOPA. “These streets were ‘complaint-driven,’” she explained, referring to the high number of reports from the public about the risks they encountered at these locations. “They’re dangerous intersections.” Barrett said. In particular, the Fell and Masonic intersection is one of the city’s worst for crashes, injuries, and fatalities.

“The first couple months after the new bicycle signal was installed at Fell and Masonic the situation was disastrous,” Barrett recalled about the problems at the intersection in 2009. At that location, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians had to get accustomed to the signal that gave a red light to motorists ready to turn left on Masonic from Fell so pedestrians and cyclists could use the crosswalk safely. Barrett said the station also set up stings at Parnassus at Stanyan and at Kezar Drive near Park Station.

Captain Barrett reported that this year her station and Northern Station are expanding the pedestrian stings by working together and sending teams of motorcycle officers to problem intersections. The effort by the two west-side stations is similar to sting operations undertaken by Captain David Lazar of Ingleside Station last summer. Lazar explained his reason for starting the program to Streetsblog at that time. “Our traffic collisions have been low and our pedestrian fatalities have been low and I want to keep it that way. We want to make sure it’s not acceptable for people to just blow through intersections.” In one day Ingleside plainclothes officers walked into crosswalks and monitored drivers who failed to yield to them. Officers issued 123 citations and arrested 10 motorists for misdemeanors, according to

The Park Station sting operation continues in the midst of heightened concern about safety on the city’s streets. Yesterday a driver of a city water department truck struck and killed a pedestrian using a crosswalk on Ocean Avenue near Miramar Avenue in the Ingleside neighborhood. Streetsblog reported the story last night. At almost the same time in the afternoon, a Muni bus driver struck and seriously injured another woman crossing San Bruno Avenue in the Portola district, according to SFAppeal. Earlier this week BIKE NOPA reported the San Francisco District Attorney’s decision to not seek criminal charges against the driver who struck and killed Melissa Dennison on Fell Street last September. In that case the DA’s office found “fault was split, fault was joint.” The information released by SFPD and the DA’s office raised questions about the decision and the lack of consequences for the driver.

Related post here on DA decision regarding pedestrian fatality at Fell and Broderick Streets.

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