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Monday, November 26, 2012

9th Avenue and Judah (N-Judah Outbound) is Dangerous for Passengers

Seasons greetings to all my readers and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  As some of you may know, I've moved into the Inner Sunset district and have been here for the past few months.  It's always great that I'm just a short walk from all the merchants and restaurants along 9th Avenue and on Irving, especially some places I haven't patronized since I was a little kid eating Sunday breakfast with my parents.

One of the greatest perks is the ample access to public transit.  On 9th Avenue and Judah, you can practically go any direction with the 6, 43, 44, and 66 lines.  But the fastest way to downtown is on the N-Judah.

I love the N-Judah for its air conditioning and quick rides to downtown, but I'm really concerned about the 9th Avenue and Judah outbound stop.  If you have a driver's license, you are aware of the "Do Not Pass" law which requires drivers to stop behind the last metro car door when the train is embarking and disembarking passengers.  It's a matter of safety that passengers can exit the train without getting hit by an incoming vehicle.

While the city does put an effort to put stickers on the back of metro vehicles, police sting enforcement, and those big signs saying "Do Not Pass" (not everywhere in the city), this gets largely ignored at the 9th and Judah stop for the outbound trains.  Every time I exit the metro, there's always a car that buzzes through; even though there's an island between the tracks and the roadway, drivers still ignore the law.

Some of you may be saying, if there's a boarding island, I can pass a metro car that's embarking/disembarking passengers?  The answer is mixed.  State vehicle code, section 27156 makes it clear that only a car can pass a light rail vehicle only if there's specific signage, ("safety zone") traffic officer, or police officer telling the driver to pass, but only at 10MPH.  When there's no specific signage permitting passing or a cop directing traffic, then the Do Not Pass law applies.

9th Avenue and Judah at the N-Judah's outbound stop does not have any signage permitting passing a metro train, therefore it is a violation to pass it.  But one big problem that I have is there isn't even a "Do Not Pass" sign at the stop.  If you see the Google Streetview on the top of this blog entry, there is absolutely no signs anywhere reminding drivers about the law.

For me, I'm quite worried when I exit the metro at a surface stop.  I fear that a driver will just decide to pass and I'll be the next person going to the hospital.  Back in January, I had a close encounter and two other passengers exiting almost got hit too.

For passengers: Always remember to look before you take the final step off the metro.
For drivers: Respect the law.


Anonymous said...

I have had similar problems at this stop and am now ultra careful. I have received the finger and cursing from drivers when I have told them to stop! Apart from the "suffering humanity" MUNI has a big liability by not posting this issue more prominently.

Anonymous said...

Reading the January post, you downplayed some information. I am familiar with that intersection. It is a four way stop. At Muni stops with an island, exiting passengers frequently jaywalk which exacerbates the problem and put themselves at risk. It appears you were jaywalking in the January incident. Similarly, the issue you raise regarding pedestrian safety at 9th & Judah assumes exiting passengers are jaywalking. That intersection has a stoplight and pedestrian crossing signals. Driver run stop lights and don't yield to pedestrians at crossing the signal but that's a different complaint than vehicles not stopping behind streetcars.

Passengers exiting Muni vehicles do not have the right to jaywalk. Cars are supposed to come to a stop because the island can get crowded with some passengers exiting and other passengers waiting to board the streetcar. People can spill out onto the street because the island is too crowded, but exiting passengers are not supposed to jaywalk. They are supposed to cross in the crosswalk and obey pedestrian crossing signals if there are any at the intersection.

Although the drivers may be at fault in the two posts, pedestrians share some responsibility when jaywalking. As a driver education instructor told my class, "a lot of dead people had the right of way." In other words, there are the vehicle and traffic codes but "in the real world" drivers and pedestrians (and bicyclists) share the responsibility for their own safety which goes beyond the strict letter of the law.

Frankly, when walking the streets of San Francisco, I've had more close calls with bicyclists than automobiles.

Akit said...

@ The second anonymous poster. If there is an island stop and people are so-called "jaywalking," drivers should still stop behind the vehicle, unless if there's a sign designating a safety zone allowing passing at 10MPH.

Let's also remember that not all island stops are long enough to cover a two car train, so people on the second car have no choice but to "jaywalk" to get to the sidewalk.

Anonymous said...

I don't get your point. Drivers should stop behind a streetcar discharging passengers and dischrging passengers shouldn't jaywalk from the island to the curb. When either disobey the law it puts pedestrians at risk. I would agree that drivers are more at fault because cars have to yield pedestrians but you seem to be implying pedestrians have no choice but to jaywalk and put themselves at (greater) risk by jaywalking.

If the island is not long enough for a two car train, exiting passengers should walk parallel with traffic to the island, on the island to the intersection and then cross their half of the street in the crosswalk. I will repeat for emphasis, Pedestrians never have a legal right to jaywalk and doing so puts themselves at risk.

It seems you are unwilling to admit you crossed the street illegally and put yourself in harm's way. If you hadn't jaywalked in January, the vehicle wouldn't have almost hit you. It took two people violating the law to cause that near-miss accident - the driver for not stopping and you for jaywalking. If either of you had obeyed the applicable law, you would not have had a close call.

Akit said...

You really expect passengers to walk to the island just to cross? You are out of your damn mind.

What would you suggest for stops with no island? Walk to the crosswalk lines and cross there?

Anonymous said...

As far as I am concerned and until someone in authority says otherwise, I exit the LVR and head directly to the sidewalk (watching that some moron in a car or on a bike doesn't run me down). I agree with Akit that calling that jay walking is nuts.

jchinn84 said...

It's definitely a mixed bag at this intersection. Some cars stop and some don't. Maybe the light could delayed a bit more after the train makes it turn? I notice right after the doors open, cars are already driving by.

Tony C. said...

From the Google image posted, it looks as though the island doesn't even fully reach the pedestrian crosswalk at the intersection, which is another complication with this stop.