What Does It Take To Get People to Stop Plowing Through Passengers at Muni Stops?

The other day I got an email from a Concerned Reader, who noted that while waiting for the N the other day, they noticed several cars plow past a stopped N that was deboarding passengers. When one of the drivers of said cars was stopped by an off-duty Muni employee, who told the car driver what they were doing was both illegal and unsafe. The response? A laugh and a “oh f-you” attitude. Wonderful.
I have to say that in some places, the problem seems particularly acute, despite those stickers on the backs of the trains, a solid percentage of clueless drivers just plow through, stuck in their little haze of cell phone use and/or a clear inability to grasp the concept of driving in a dense urban area. I don’t fault the stickers – you could have a giant neon sign pop up in several languages saying “don’t pass the train, dimwits, you might hit someone” and they’d still do it. Once I saw a particularly egregious violation and I was seriously tempted to grab a bottle of juice out of my grocery bag and chuck it at the car (who almost ran over a couple of kids) but common sense won the day and I didn’t do it.
Maybe the solution is something a bit different – perhaps it’s time we make it significantly more difficult to get a driver’s license, and require people to actually know something about safety before being allowed to drive their cars on the road. I realize that the concept of teaching people how to drive and issuing a license saying they’re able to is completely foreign to Americans, but it’s worth looking into. Also: perhaps it’s time to stop jerking people around on parking tickets, and instead save the big fines for serious moving violations that put everyone at risk (cars, bikes, people, transit). I think we’d have a safer city fairly quickly, for sure.
PS: And yes, bicyclists can be jerks too, and yes some pedestrians can be jerks too, and yes Muni operators etc. etc. etc. but it’s not necessary to go through each of these any time one talks about auto safety. I mean, even the AAA would agree that no one is served by people driving dangerously, right?

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6 Responses to What Does It Take To Get People to Stop Plowing Through Passengers at Muni Stops?

  1. debbieann says:

    what it takes: hardcore ticketing by police for a week, expensive fines.
    Melbourne has trams and every car stops every time.

  2. stevenj says:

    From the Calif Vehicle Code:
    V C Section 21756 Passing Standing Streetcar Trolley Coach or Bus
    Passing Standing Streetcar, Trolley Coach, or Bus
    21756. (a) The driver of a vehicle overtaking any interurban electric or streetcar stopped or about to stop for the purpose of receiving or discharging any passenger shall stop the vehicle to the rear of the nearest running board or door of such car and thereupon remain standing until all passengers have boarded the car or upon alighting have reached a place of safety, except as provided in subdivision (b) hereof.
    (b) Where a safety zone has been established or at an intersection where traffic is controlled by an officer or a traffic control signal device, a vehicle need not be brought to a stop before passing any interurban electric or streetcar but may proceed past such car at a speed not greater than 10 miles per hour and with due caution for the safety of pedestrians.
    (c) Whenever any trolley coach or bus has stopped at a safety zone to receive or discharge passengers, a vehicle may proceed past such trolley coach or bus at a speed not greater than 10 miles per hour.
    Amended Ch. 969, Stats. 1959. Effective September 18, 1959.

  3. Blind in SF says:

    As a blind passenger that rides the N-Judah regularly, I sometimes “accidentally” whack my white cane into cars that decide they are more important than the passengers disembarking from the light rail vehicles.

  4. Angie says:

    I was actually going to e-mail you about this, but you beat me to it with this post. On the inbound stop (next to the gas station) at 19th and Judah, and also at 9th & Judah, it’s becoming a daily hassle to dodge the cars. At 19th and Judah, there is a large white paratransit van that pulls up on the curb to pick up a passenger some mornings, and sometimes the driver doesn’t pull over far enough. One morning he did that and the train pulls up, a bunch of little kids and moms get off and on to the platform, and a car actually drives up on to the platform to go around the van!!! Everyone was herding the kids away from the car and yelling at him, but he blithely drove on, and made the light. That driver was about 2 inches from making the headlines that day.
    As far as making it harder to get a license, well, I think there are way more unlicensed drivers out there than we would like to think.

  5. JayS says:

    I’ve seen some school buses have have yellow bars that pop out of the bumper when they stop. That could be a deterrent for vehicles but at the same time a liability should a pedestrian get whacked.

  6. Nancy Ewart says:

    My ex-husband was a completely fearless type. Once a car did this but had to stop at the light, but nearly running over a bunch of us exiting from the N Judah. My ex- 6’3″ and 200+ simply jumped down on the hood of the car and bounced his way to the other side- and kept on moving so that the bemused motorist couldn’t catch him. He did fairly major damage to the damn car and the rest of us applauded him. Obviously the driver was furious but none of us knew who the “masked man” was.

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