Monday, April 11, 2011

Jogger Hit by Red-Light Running Motorist on Masonic, SFPD To Resume Enforcement Tomorrow

Pedestrian injured this morning on Masonic. Photo: Matt Smith

A 35-year-old woman was struck and seriously injured this morning by a red-light running motorist traveling on Masonic at Grove. The motorist struck the woman and continued through the intersection colliding with other vehicles, according to Capt. Denis O'Leary of SFPD Park Station. Tomorrow morning SFPD will place officers along Masonic to enforce the 25 MPH speed limit and to cite motorists who fail to stop for red lights.

The woman was jogging and in the crosswalk at about 8:30 a.m. when she was struck by the motorist. Capt. O'Leary said her injuries were extensive. "She was taken to the hospital. She has two broken legs, head injuries, and internal injuries," he said. "She needs our thoughts and prayers."

The motorist stopped -- or was stopped as a result of the collision with other vehicles. No arrest and no citation resulted. O'Leary explained that California law does not permit officers to give citations unless they witness the incident. A "notice of violation" can be given but that action often follows a conference with the station sergeant. O'Leary said he would check into the status of such a citation. He stated that a Traffic Division officer, rather than one from Park Station, filed the police report.

First reported by Matt Smith of SFWeekly, the collision and injury is one of several that have occurred on Masonic. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has installed a number of traffic calming measures in the last nine months, but additional steps promised for early this spring have yet to be taken.* These include re-striping badly faded travel lanes and including directions for motorists to merge where the number of lanes on Masonic change, and painting 25 MPH on the street surfaces. Yet many observers and city planners agree that significant risk reduction will only result when Masonic is re-designed to better cue motorists to drive within the speed limit and when changes are made to increase safe travel for pedestrians and bicyclists as well.

As previously reported, a Masonic traffic calming plan -- dubbed the Boulevard -- is expected to go to a public hearing in May or soon thereafter. Today Javad Mirabdal, project director of the Masonic re-design study, confirmed that a hearing in May remains possible. "We don't have a date yet," he said, "but we're trying to bring it in May." Mirabdal presented the Boulevard plan to a Citizens Advisory Committee last week. He said they are taking the necessary steps moving toward the hearing and, hopefully, approval.

After hearing of this morning's collision and injury, Cheryl Brinkman, a member of SFMTA's Board of Directors, said she intended to do everything she can to support traffic calming on Masonic.
"It's heartbreaking to continue to have drivers disregard the safety of all other road users. Thank goodness the woman was not killed by that car driver and no one else was killed. I feel frustrated that some car drivers just don't seem to care."
For other articles in the A Better Masonic series, check here.
* The SFMTA stated this afternoon that the striping work began last Friday and will require about a week to complete. The several wet days of March created a backlog in bike lane striping projects and pushed back the Masonic work.

Personal view: Striping bike lanes is a top priority and we celebrate each occasion, but the daily hazards along Masonic deserve priority.


  1. why does it always take a tragedy to motivate action when everyone knows its needed? and i just dont get get the mentality of people that speed through lights and signs and dont stop -whether they are in vehicles bikes or foot. do they not know what a risk they are to others and them selves?! and is a few seconds really worth the potential risk of lives - theirs or others?
    i am really glad for all the effort and work that went in to Fix Masonic and that it will be implemented much faster now - it is truly needed asap!

  2. The hell? You can run someone over and send them to the hospital and not even get a citation?

  3. I do not understand why the SFPD does not do one of those speed/pedestrian stings on Masonic. Lord, what a windfall for the city that would be.

  4. clarify -- I think it's great that they're doing one now. But this should be a weekly occurrence.

  5. MattyMatt: SFPD Park Station -- and perhaps the Traffic Division -- do undertake periodic pedestrian stings and speed enforcement on Masonic. Captain O'Leary (and previously Captain Barrett) work closely with neighbors and groups like Fix Masonic and NOPNA, but we would like to see greater frequency whenever staffing permits.

  6. Michael, please elaborate on the sentence in your piece where O'Leary says, "that California law does not permit officers to give citations unless they witness the incident." Nothing about that makes sense to me...

  7. Alex: It doesn't make much sense to me either, but Capt O'Leary indicated that was the restriction of CA law. The police report will be filed, and fault can be indicated by the reporting officer, but often no action is taken, the case is filed, and the follow up is left to private insurance companies to work out. With the injured person lying in the street and witnesses all around, you'd think there would be reason for more assertive responses.

  8. I believe that VC 40300 addresses this predicament:

  9. I would *love* for the city to do daily stings on cars failing to yield to pedestrians. Feel free to warn less egregious violations and ticket flagrant dangerous drivers (which there are no shortage).

    Rotate the stings through the city, targeting known problem areas but generally covering *all* neighborhoods and business districts. Do this every day and don't stop.

  10. Ok, but what about when someone breaks the law by using a weapon such as a vehicle to hit someone? Accident or not, and moving violation aside, they've just committed assault. You'd arrest the two bar brawling thugs even if they weren't fighting anymore when police arrive.

  11. People turning right from Masonic onto Fell is also a major hazard. The drivers look left for oncoming traffic and start driving without looking back to the right, because of the one-way. Today, I saw a guy almost run over a woman with her child in a stroller because of this.
    A simple solution would be to make it no-right-turn-on-red.

  12. I live on Masonic and the speeding through here is atrocious! all the traffic calming measures work in a very limited way at best. If I drive 25-30 miles per hour with traffic it's terrifying, I feel like a real hazard as everyone else zips around me-- like going 45 mph on the freeway! riding my bike, with my 4 year old on a tagalong behind me, is so bad that I usually just go on the sidewalk, slowly-- I figure responsibly breaking the law is better than risking our lives.