Crosswalks are the bane of my existence. I am lucky enough to walk to work everyday … and almost get hit by a car — everyday.
It is frankly not safe to walk in The City at all. I have mentioned this in a prior article about safety, but things have become exceedingly worse since then. For some reason, cars think they can stop in the middle of crosswalks and even continue to drive through the crosswalk when the pedestrians have the walk signal.
I get that people need to get where they are going, but not at the expense of my life. As it has gotten worse, I have started to develop pedestrian rage, where I yell, curse and give dirty looks to people who violate these traffic laws. I literally yell things like, “Get out of the crosswalk” or “People have to walk here” or even “This is a f—ing crosswalk!” It’s bad.
Last week, I was crossing Franklin Street as I do everyday, walking through the crosswalk with two men and a mother with a new baby in tow. A woman was not paying attention, just rolling through the crosswalk in a red light, almost hitting all of us. Both men hit the hood of her car to get her to stop. That was a super scary moment, my city’s intersections are becoming unwalkable.
Though these drivers are probably just commuters dealing with a severe amount of traffic, there are lots of Lyft and Uber drivers who drive through these crosswalks for different reasons. People don’t ever leave enough time to get where they are going in a Lyft Line or Uber Pool, so some of them put pressure on the driver to make up for lost time. As a result — and I have seen this happen before — the driver breaks laws like making U-turns, driving through red lights and even stopping in the middle of intersections and crosswalks.
This is seriously dangerous. In the past month, two people were killed crossing the street. According to the S.F. Budget Analyst report, “The number of injuries and deaths has not changed significantly over the past 10 years, and San Francisco has the second-highest rate of pedestrian injury and death after New York City,” according to a report on pedestrian safety by San Francisco’s budget analyst.
If that’s true, I am totally screwed. I wish someone would make an app to take a picture of someone’s license plate in the middle of a crosswalk and send to the police for a ticket. Or maybe actually using the traffic cams to not only charge people for running red lights, but for endangering the lives of pedestrians. There should be a technological solution for this problem. Maybe I could use NextDoor and report that a certain intersection is dangerous and to make sure you pay attention when you cross the street.
That brings me to another thing: It doesn’t matter how many unanswered emails, texts and Facebook messages you have. Get off your phone when crossing the street!
It doesn’t mean you have to put away your phone, just keep it by your side and look both ways. Didn’t your mother teach you that? We have to do whatever we can to make sure we are being vigilant when walking across the street.
Speaking of phones, drivers should not be using theirs. That is another thing about transportation apps. If you don’t know The City, which many drivers do not, you are tied to your phone for directions. It inherently takes your eyes off the road, onto a map that may not even be right. Apps like Waze and Google Maps should work harder to provide better voice navigation to avoid this problem. Maybe it is unavoidable all together.
I have even looked into organizations like Walk San Francisco, because they seem to be the only people that actually care about this problem. I have thought about reaching out to my neighborhood association, but I know they can’t actually change things, but rather recommend policy and improvements to the police.
What I want is to spend a day at one crosswalk and take pictures of every occurrence of this happening just to prove a point. It is really not a good use of my time, but I am fired up.
With a background in journalism, Melissa Eisenberg has been working in the tech industry for eight years, currently leading the SF FashTech community.