Yee banking on double-fine zone for 19th Avenue

Hope for the “missing piece” for pedestrian safety along 19th Avenue rests on backroom promises made by state legislators.

Efforts to bring a double-fine zone to 19th Avenue, a major corridor through The City, have long been rejected by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, said a backroom agreement involving the governor’s staff, the state Department of Transportation and key policymakers has him confident his proposal will bear fruit next year.

A 7.5-mile corridor with a 35 mph speed limit, 19th Avenue-Park Presidio carries 85,000 vehicles, 80,000 pedestrians and 14,500 Muni riders each day. This summer, at least two pedestrians were killed, and between 2000 and 2005, 12 people died from traffic collisions on the road, according to San Francisco police.

The zone would increase only the base fine for infractions such as speeding, driving recklessly or having an open container in the car. If approved, that increase, for example, would cause the total fine for exceeding the limit by 15 mph to jump from $87.50 to $112.50. For 16-25 mph over the limit, the total fine would jump from $175 to $225.

On Wednesday, Yee obtained commitments from the Governor’s Office and Caltrans to come up with criteria this fall and winter establishing a double-fine zone along 19th Avenue.

“I’m confident that this bill will finally be signed by the governor,” Yee said.

Transportation authorities have taken steps to improve the timing of lights allowing pedestrians safer crossing. Caltrans has allocated $11.6 million for pedestrian signals at 26 intersections along the corridor, and construction is expected to start as early as February.

Gillian Gillett, a member of the board of pedestrian advocacy group WalkSF, called a double-fine zone the “missing piece” to cut down on traffic collisions in the area.

dsmith@examiner.com

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