Police target drivers at dangerous intersection

Senta Tsantilis lives in a home on 30th Avenue with a view of Golden Gate Park. It’s a location many would be envious of, but she can’t take advantage of it because she loathes dodging the cars that zip by on Lincoln Way.

“I see mothers with baby strollers crossing all the time, and I have to say, they’re braver than me,” said Tsantilis, who was walking her dog Penny on Wednesday morning as police officers conducted a “pedestrian sting” outside her house. “I’m so glad when the police are out here.”

The intersection is such a danger that, during the sting, a car rear-ended a man on a scooter who had stopped for an undercover officer crossing the street. Twenty minutes later, after the shards of automobile parts were cleared from the street, police were at it again, ticketing 17 people in less than 90 minutes.

Sgt. Steve Quon, dressed in a grey fleece jacket and jeans, resembled any number of Sunset district residents who cross the busy commuter corridor each day. He steps out into the crosswalk, warily eyeing the white Volkswagen that comes screeching to a halt.

A pickup truck in the next lane doesn’t see Quon and blows right through the crosswalk, only to be chased down by a police motorcycle watching the whole thing.

An elderly pedestrian was killed in the same spot in 2007 in much the same way. A vehicle traveling eastbound on Lincoln in the left lane stopped for him, but another motorist driving in the right lane didn’t see him. Following the death, authorities placed fluorescent markers warning motorists of the pedestrian right of way in a crosswalk.

The man was one of at least 29 pedestrians to die in a traffic collision in 2007, an increase of 12 from the previous year’s total and double the amount of pedestrian fatalities reported in 2004, and in 2005.

“We’ve seen a lot of pedestrian fatalities in the district and it’s getting worse,” Quon said of the Taraval Station where he works. “People seem to be in more of a hurry.”

State law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, though it does make provisions for pedestrians who bolt out into the street at the last minute. The fine for breaking the law can cost up to $250.

bbegin@examiner.com

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