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Mission District traffic improvements take one step forward

Residents protest speeding cars along San Jose, Guerrero

By Mary F. Albert | Staff Writer
Published on Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Mission residents got the green light for traffic improvements at the intersection of San Jose and Guerrero streets after protests and pleas to The City to calm the daily onslaught of speeders.

As police prepared to launch a pedestrian safety sting operation at 27th and Guerrero streets, neighbors crowded into City Hall Thursday morning to force officials to address traffic issues that often leave slow-moving pedestrians -- senior citizens and school children -- stranded on tiny islands as cars race by.

Having protested unsafe conditions at the intersection Monday, at least 100 residents -- some of whom took time off from work -- gathered again to emphasize their desire to see speed limits enforced, two bike lanes introduced and six lanes reduced to four.

To the cheers and applause of the crowd, Bond Yee of the Department of Parking and Transportation said that most of the improvements were "doable."

Converting what is now a northbound double lane into a single one is the only aspect of the community's plan that would be difficult to implement, said Yee.

When the California Department of Transportation shut down U.S. Highway 280 for retrofit upgrades, they added another lane of traffic, he said.

Pledges from supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty to secure funding and push pedestrian safety legislation through quickly were met with cheers from those in attendance, many of whom showed pictures of homes damaged by speeding cars.

Supervisor Fiona Ma said that the Pedestrian Protection Act, which would bring more countdown signals and cross hatches to The City's intersections, is waiting to be heard by the Board of Supervisors' City Services Committee.

Citywide, more than 10,000 pedestrians have been injured in the last 10 years, bringing the daily average of pedestrian injuries to three, according to DPT reports. During those years, 275 pedestrians have been killed. And since the start of 2004, 25 San Franciscans have died in pedestrian accidents.

In an effort to combat crosswalk-related violations, police on motorcycles conducted a sting operation Tuesday at the intersection of 27th and Guerrero streets, which police spokesman Dewayne Tully described as "a notoriously dangerous configuration of streets."

Tully explained that the operation was planned prior to this week's two hit-and-run accidents, one of which resulted in the death of Mission District resident Kevin Lam.

Drivers caught running red lights, failing to slow for pedestrians in crosswalks, cutting off pedestrians or driving while intoxicated can expect to receive a citation, fine or even arrest in DUI cases, said Tully.

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