'North Beach Neighbors' Raises Concerns Over Intersection Safety

North Beach Neighbors (NBN), a 100-plus member nonprofit neighborhood association, is urging city departments to address concerns the group has raised about pedestrian and cyclist safety at two busy intersections. 

The group identified Filbert Street and Columbus Avenue and Filbert at Powell Street as dangerous intersections after several pedestrians and cyclists were injured in crosswalks. 

Most recently, a driver struck an elderly pedestrian last month, another elderly pedestrian suffered life-threatening injuries after a driver struck them in March, and a cyclist was injured in a hit-and-run collision in July

NBN President Danny Sauter has encourage the city to make safety upgrades in the intersections, noting in a letter to officials that the thoroughfare was given a "pedestrian safety rating of 'C.'" in SFMTA's 2010 Columbus Avenue Safety Project.

"This tragedy is unfortunately one that neighbors in North Beach have experienced all too often recently," said Sauter.

A 2010 executive summary of a Columbus Avenue traffic study by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority highlights similar concerns.

"Columbus Avenue operates most effectively for vehicle circulation, and operates the least well for pedestrian, transit, and bicycle circulation," part of the statement reads. "One third to one half of the people using Columbus Avenue are pedestrians, but only a quarter of the Columbus Avenue right of way is reserved for pedestrian use." 

The intersections have a high concentration of foot traffic especially due to their proximity to Washington Square Park and Sts. Peter and Paul Church and School. 

Washington Square Park and Sts. Peter and Paul Church. | Photo: Pamla J. Eisenberg/Flickr

North Beach Neighbors have specifically asked for "tougher construction standards" in the district citing the construction of new condos at the former Pagoda Palace Theater and work being conducted on the Central Subway. 

"With construction equipment just feet from the stop sign (facing west towards Powell Street), the safety signals are obstructed until the last minute," the letter reads. 

Additionally, the group is asking for city departments to consider installing "bulbouts" that would "reduce vehicle speeds and improve pedestrian visibility."

However, Sauter mentioned that current plans in the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency's (SFMTA) 2017 Columbus Avenue Safety Project does not include "improvements at these intersections." 

A spokesperson for District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents the neighborhood, told Hoodline that a request was made to Public Works (DPW) to trim any trees blocking stop signs and obstructing visibility, and that additional street painting be completed in advance of the stop sign. 

Trees after trimming. | North Beach Neighbors/Facebook

Jennifer Blot, a spokesperson for DPW, confirmed to Hoodline that the department's Bureau of Urban Forestry crews trimmed the trees after receiving the request. 

"Public Works was involved in improvements on Columbus Avenue (including paving and new ADA curb-ramps) but the construction has ended," Blot said. 

While Sauter recognizes the response to the group's requests to the city, he says work still needs to be done to make the intersections safer.

"A major next opportunity, which I [haven't seen], is removing the parking spaces for 'Day Lighting,' a technique that has been successful in San Fransisco so far," Sauter said. "[Our request] was logged for 'engineering review' with SFMTA about a month ago." 

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North beach neighbors raise concerns over intersection safety