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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Muni Metro Exiting Passenger Hit By Car - Will SFPD Finally Enforce the Law?

Many of who takes Muni metro have experienced at least one close call when exiting a surface stop and a car decides to blow past the train.  Those moments put chills in your bones, and maybe the feeling you want to slash the tires of that moron.

For you loyal fans, I've written about this a couple of times: An incident where I had a close encounter with a speeding SUV while I was exiting the metro, and a popular stop along the N-Judah line where cars pass by a stopped metro vehicle on a regular basis.

As we are aware, state law forbids drivers to pass a stopped light rail vehicle that is boarding and discharging passengers, or basically whenever the train doors are open.  We call this the "Do Not Pass" law.  Drivers are only permitted to drive past a light rail vehicle once it goes into motion, and not when just the doors close (there's the assumption passengers may still exit the train), or can legally pass a vehicle if it is in a designated "safety zone" at 10 MPH if it is marked with signage saying so.

Just yesterday morning at Taraval and 19th Avenue, a passenger exiting the L-Taraval train was struck by a car, and while it's not life threatening injuries, it delayed the entire line for 45 minutes.  (News article from SF Appeal).

You would think education would work, well it seems the answer is no [facepalm].  People continuously disobey the law and puts passengers entering and exiting the trains in danger.  When will the SFPD conduct enforcement and teach violators a serious lesson in driving?

Citizens constantly complain about laws being broken in their neighborhood, but the cops just don't do anything or say there's more serious things they need to do.  There are tons of occasions that the police or even the city will finally make changes or stronger enforcement when someone GETS KILLED because of it.  For example, a former two-way stop at 47th Avenue and Fulton was so extremely dangerous the city kept it a two way (stop signs for north & south) and extended the red no parking zone for better visibility, but only turned it into a 4-way when a pedestrian was hit and killed by a speeding driver going on west on Fulton.  The SFMTA tried stalling citizens complaints by responding it would "delay Muni," but from the many who called to complain, we all knew it was total bullshit.

When I drive on streets like Judah and Taraval, I always respect the law and wait behind the metro vehicle to let it do its job to embark and disembark passengers.  I've had assholes honk at me, including a taxicab, demanding me to pass the vehicle; all I do is keep my foot on the brake, roll down my window, point my finger at the yellow sticker on the back of the train saying not to pass, and pull my middle finger up to flick them off.

I don't have hundreds of dollars to pay the fine and court costs.


Anonymous said...

I live between two cable car lines and am constantly amazed at how people, some with out-of-state plates but more often than not with neighborhood parking stickers, not only pass a stopped cable but often cross over double lines.

The passengers are usually tourists who don't know they have to look when exiting and I am constantly amazed that there aren't more injuries.

Zach said...

Certainly people should be following the law and driving safely, but there is a communication problem here too. The "Do Not Pass" signs are utterly unclear if you aren't already familiar with the law, and it is obvious that many drivers are unaware. The "motorists must stop for pedestrians" sticker on LRVs is even more confusing: it basically boils down to a hard to read instruction not to hit pedestrians, which ought to be obvious to all anyway. The actual message––stop behind a train that is boarding/discharging passengers and do not start moving until the train does––is lost in all the confusing instructions.

The school bus safety folks have gone to great lengths to communicate a similar law. Maybe we need a similar campaign, complete with flashing stop lights, if we're going to tackle this issue.

The SFPD can run around ticketing violators, and it still wouldn't get the word out except to the individual drivers who get cited.