For months Panhandle Path has bulged here close to Cole Street
When a driver blocks the crosswalk before stopping, it's never a good sign
Ignoring the red turn light and prompting the driver behind to follow
Not to be deterred no matter how many cyclists and pedestrians are in the crosswalk
And the license plate: CA 6LRE494
This afternoon was a good time to get away from the office for a quick bike ride. One of BIKE NOPA's "eyes-on-the-street"* alerted me earlier in the day that a tall pole was being installed on Masonic at Hayes and that a patch of the Panhandle Path was being repaired. Holiday lights were going up on the giant Monterey cypress outside McLaren Lodge too. All good reasons for an outing. Here's what I found.
A new, tall utility pole was already in place when I arrived. The towering tree nearby had been trimmed for the arcing mast over the travel lane, and a new and larger set of signal lights had been installed. The signal light replacements, reported going up at other locations here, are intended as another safety improvement along the Masonic corridor.
Tree roots had buckled the pavement of the Panhandle Path in the west end of the park just east of Cole Street for several months. Perhaps the Recreation and Parks Department delayed this repair given its slashed budget. Crews started the job a few weeks ago but then the work stalled. With the friendly prodding of the Panhandle Park Stewards (coincidental or not), work resumed and today the pathway is flat and smooth.
I decided to save the city's holiday tree for a night-time visit and chose instead to stake out the Fell/Masonic intersection. I hoped to report that the new shield on the bike light was working as intended and that people driving west on Fell and wanting to turn left on Masonic no longer confused the red stoplight and the green bike light for crosswalk users. I stood through two full signal changes, and all went smooth and safely although one cyclist cut the digital countdown for the crossing pretty short. Not the third time though. A clear sign of trouble ahead is when a motorist rolls into and then completely blocks the crosswalk on Fell before stopping for the light. When the Panhandle light turned green for people on bikes and on foot, the driver ignored the red and edged into the intersection ready to push right through the flow of crosswalk users. Which he did. The driver behind him followed suit. Both traveled slowly through their infractions of the traffic code. (Do take note of the license plate number).
This isn't a bicyclist / motorist conflict, in my mind. The situation seen all over the city is simply too many motorists not respecting the rights and vulnerability of someone using the crosswalk. The intrusions happen every day in all parts of the city, sometimes with people getting hit and occasionally killed. One driver nearly hit me this week on a clear, sunny morning. I was crossing Golden Gate Avenue at Lyon street in the crosswalk. Her excuse after slamming on the brakes,"I didn't see you!" My reply, "Then you weren't looking." Before peeling around me and driving on, she shouted, "Get out of the road." When do we -- walkers, drivers, bicyclists, San Franciscans -- say "Enough" and then do something about it?
*Thanks again, SN. Now I wish I had added the Holiday Tree to my ride.