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S.F. Needs to Stop Foot-Dragging On Sunset Stoplights

How many pedestrian accidents need to happen on San Francisco's Sunset Boulevard before the city actually does something about it? It's a depressing question, to be sure, but one that is playing out nevertheless.

Just Thursday, yet another collision at the intersection of Sunset and Yorba left a 20-year-old woman with serious injuries. If this sounds familiar, that's because it is. I've written about this intersection before, a few months back in February, when 78-year-old Isaak Berenzon was killed crossing in the same place, and then again a couple weeks later when a 15-year-old boy sustained serious injuries after being hit by a car.

No one will argue that this intersection is problematic. In fact, it would be inaccurate to say that the city has done nothing about this because they have. Before any of these accidents took place, the city had already installed flashing yellow lights for that particular crosswalk, full well knowing that cars come careening down Sunset at freeway speeds without paying any mind to possible pedestrians. They also reportedly had plans to install a stoplight before these accidents occurred. After the last accident, the stoplight process was "expedited," so that it would be installed by the end of 2015.

That's right, the end of 2015. That's more than a year and a half from now. It doesn't sound very expedited to me, especially when you consider the rate at which pedestrian accidents are taking place in this three-block stretch of the city. According to SFGate's story, a quarter of all pedestrians hit on Sunset Avenue between 2005 and 2011 were struck within a couple blocks of Yorba. And that's a lot of people, because a total of 44 pedestrians were hit on Sunset in that same window of time.

The flashing yellow lights are clearly not working, and we cannot wait another year and a half to see how many more pedestrians fall victim to the city's bureaucratic sluggishness. If, indeed, it is impossible to speed up the stoplight process any more than it already has been, then we must start looking into alternatives. As I've suggested before, why not install stop signs for now? Or change the yellow flashing lights to red so that people will pay more attention? Or even lower the speed limit and start really enforcing it? There are a number of different possible quick fixes that the city needs to start considering as soon as humanly possible. Doing nothing is causing our citizens harm. This phenomenon ceased being a coincidence long ago. It's a bonafide trend, and there's no place for foot-dragging when it comes to public safety.

What do you think the best interim solution would be for this dangerous intersection? Please let us know in the comments section. If you or someone you know has been the victim of an accident, please don't hesitate to contact the Law Office of Scott Righthand, P.C., where we advocate aggressively for pedestrians.

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