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SF installs diagonal pedestrian crossing at dangerous Chinatown intersection

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(Mike Koozmin/S.F. Examiner)
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After more than a year of repeated protests, San Francisco has installed full “pedestrian scramble” safety engineering improvements to a busy intersection in Chinatown.

Kearny and Clay streets, where 77-year-old Ai You Zhou was struck and killed while crossing the intersection in 2015, is the latest spot in The City to receive the pedestrian engineering treatment, which replicates pedestrian crossing patterns in China.

Here, they are called a “scramble,” allowing pedestrians to cross in all directions, diagonally and otherwise, at once. Cars wait their turn to move independently of pedestrians.

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Zhou’s death, advocates said, would have been prevented by a full diagonal scramble.

Transportation advocacy group Chinatown TRIP, the Chinatown Community Development Center and others led the charge to urge the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to install a full scramble there.

The SFMTA partially installed the scramble in February 2016, but the treatment did not allow diagonal crossing — only in U.S.-style right angles.

“The scramble is now a full scramble, allowing for diagonal crossing and stopping traffic in all directions,” said Ben Jose, an SFMTA spokesperson, which involved the installation of four angled pedestrian countdown signals.

On Wednesday, advocates and neighbors gathered to celebrate at the corner of Portsmouth Square, at Kearny and Clay streets.

“We’ve all got to say it together, ‘Slow down for Chinatown!’” Malcolm Yeung, program director at CCDC, said to the crowd.

The neighbors shouted back, “Slow down for Chinatown!”

The celebration was attended by Supervisor Aaron Peskin, SFMTA Director of Sustainable Streets Tom Maguire, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Self Help for the Elderly, San Francisco Police Department Capt. David Lazar and the Portsmouth Plaza Parking Corporation.

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