For safe crossings, S.F. artist walks

Faced with the need for crosswalks in their neighborhood, some people might write to their elected officials or call City Hall.

But artist Anne Devine, 41, pounds the pavement — for 26.2 miles.

Devine spent Sunday completing the equivalent of a marathon in an effort to shed light on the need for two crosswalks on 16th Street — one at Wisconsin Street and the other at Arkansas Street. Devine set out walking the rectangular-shaped area 161 times, for more than eight hours.

“There’s a lot of foot traffic here,” Devine said Sunday afternoon as she crossed 16th Street’s four lanes donning an orange fluorescent vest. “This neighborhood is expanding. There’s a lot of traffic. The City can't keep putting it off. There’s so much traffic.”

Devine, a graduate student at the California College of the Arts, crosses the street almost daily to get to campus and her studio, she said.

“It’s scary to cross 16th,” 19-year-old sophomore Stephanie Sandstrom said. “One lady almost hit me. I had to jump out of the way of her SUV.”

A pedestrian, under California law, has the right of way at intersections unless he or she is walking against the light. Still, many intersections lack striped crosswalks to signal that drivers should look for pedestrians, according to Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian advocacy group.

Pedestrians make up 41 percent of traffic fatalities in San Francisco, compared with a national average of 13 percent, Walk San Francisco reported. Nearly half of those fatalities are seniors. The average San Franciscan is more likely to be injured by a person in a car than by a stranger with a gun, Walk San Francisco reported.

When Devine approached The City’s Department of Parking and Traffic about installing crosswalks, city officials studied the issue, she said. The department found that two crosswalks were needed but couldn’t fund the projects currently, Devine said.

Sam Fielding, program manager at DPT, could not be reached Sunday to discuss the matter.

As Devine continuously walked the rectangle pattern, friends stopped to offer support for the walk for which she’s been training for about four months.

Each time she completed the rectangular trek across and along the road, she marked the trip’s number on her arm with a black marker and on a mechanical counting machine, like the ones seen at concerts or ball games.

“She’s passionate and dedicated,” said fellow student Carly Troncale, 29. “When she gets an idea she goes with it … even if it’s a bit masochistic.”

mcarroll@examiner.com

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