At about 2:40pm this afternoon there was an incident involving a pedestrian and an N Judah streetcar at 9th and Judah. Details were vague, although the pedestrian was transported to SF General with non-life threatening injuries. Coverage of the event can also be found at SF Appeal.com and CBS5
Although I did pick up on some information, because I didn’t get it officially “on the record” and the head Muni guys on the scene couldn’t talk for legal reasons, so I couldn’t conduct an interview on the scene like I’d hoped. So following journalistic ethics, I’m not going to transcribe what I overheard, since that would not be a good thing to do.
One thing I do notice people do often is cross against red “don’t walk” signals with a green light, because it’s not entirely clear by the signage that one should hold off on walking until they get the actual “walk” signal. The signs are a little bit small, and not like the ones in Chinatown which are clearer and at eye level.
I will say that the number of “near misses” and accidents has gone down, but it’s never cool when anyone gets hurt, for any reason at all, and I hope the person who fell down is ok and isn’t hurt too bad.
Complete set of photos are here.
UPDATE: As I had suspected from looking at the scene, the train never touched the pedestrian at all. In fact the pedestrian had fallen down, and the train stopped so as to avoid hitting the person. Read all about it at the SF Appeal link at the top of the page.
One thing I do notice people do often is cross against red “don’t walk” signals with a green light, because it’s not entirely clear by the signage that one should hold off on walking until they get the actual “walk” signal.
Well, I mean, that’s what the walk signal is for, really. As a pedestrian, you follow the walk signal, not the traffic light. You learn this stuff in kindergarten.
It is pretty amazing that this doesn’t happen more often, since I see people cross against their signal (esp. there) at least twice a day. And about a third of the time, they get indignant with the driver although they’re the ones at fault.
All that said, I’m not entirely sure that’s the case here.
@Joel: I agree, and I’m holding off any judgments until we find out all the details. The thing is in an urban area, if everyone just takes an extra moment to be cautious, everyone can get where they are going and minimize the damage. It’s not a challenge to one’s rights and viability as a human to slow down a tiny bit, or take the extra moment to look out for each other. I know that sounds kinda hippy dippy, but this isn’t the suburbs where there’s tons of room for everyone.
Yeah, the green lights with the don’t-walk signs can be a little confusing.
But also, when a train comes and interrupts a walk sign in one direction, often the walk sign goes back to that same direction after the train leaves. So if you’re waiting to cross in the other direction, you can end up waiting forever, especially if there’s more than one train in the vicinity.
So of course, people get impatient and just go for it. I wonder if that’s what happened here.
@JW: the system they have now is the best they could do without ripping up the tracks to put in another one. Overall it works OK and the # of incidents has been reduced, and the near misses are fewer. But still, I just get terrified of those giant streetcars and buses – let’s face it, NO ONE is going to do well against one of those….ouch.
If I may vent for a minute…
The reason people cross against pedestrian lights is those damned crossing buttons! Anytime you have one of those
Example: you come to a crossing. You’re walking quickly and it would take you 5 seconds to cross. The light is green, but the little man is red. Choices:
— Cross in 5 s. and finish before the light goes red (5% of the time, when you’re unlucky, this requires a little jog at the end). Cross traffic has the red light.
— Stop. Push the button. Check out the drivers, who are waiting for you. After 20 seconds, your light turns red, and they go. Now wait for the cross traffic to go. Another 40 seconds. Finally cross in 5 seconds.
Now, I can see some justification for this. Old and disabled people need time to cross. You can design the lights to forbid left turns when pedestrians are crossing. However for the young or able-bodied, a lot of the time, it makes no sense, and all that the buttons teach is that the pedestrian signals are nonsense.
Fortunately SF doesn’t have too many of these– I’ve been in places far worse. However, in the past few years they’ve added a few which seem to have no good reasoning behind them. One, across Park Presidio Blvd. in the Richmond. There’s just no justification for them. No protection against people making left turns, nothing. Even if they did extend the lights for slow moving pedestrians (which I don’t think they do) the pedestrian signals should still display countdowns without a button press, so people can judge for themselves if they have time. As it is, I just ignore them.
The other bad location is sixth ave. and fulton. When you’re coming out of the park, there is no ordinary signal. This is especially annoying because lots of bikes exit there, and so you end up approaching the intersection slowly, checking to see if the cross traffic has stopped and their light is red, and then darting across while hoping it doesn’t immediately turn green.
If any traffic engineers are reading: Put in buttons if they do something useful. But, if they’re just there to make people wait for the next green light, even though they have a green light now with plenty of time left, they are nonsensical and will be treated as such, with tragic results.
I watched the aftermath of this accident from my apartment at 9th & Judah. I’m truly amazed that 1, the person survived (thank goodness), and 2, this doesn’t happen more often at this intersection.
With the newly installed traffic signaling for the trains the red/green light pattern can be very confusing. Very frequently I see people running across the street, rushing to catch the various buses or the N. This particular corner can be especially dangerous when the N-Judah train is moving quickly while turning West onto Judah. It’s also amazing that more N patrons aren’t taken out by the oncoming, un-stopping traffic as they disembark at this stop.