After three reports of pedestrian accidents on Golden Gate Ave. were made to various Resident Assistants in the Fall semester of this year, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) began their attempt to improve the safety of the crosswalks surrounding USF’s campus. “In later parts of the evening, and even during the day, there are incidents where students have been hit,” said junior Sameer Bhutani, Vice President of RHA. “Student safety is definitely a huge concern, and it’s something that’s very easy to overlook, especially when a crosswalk is already present,” he said.
Complaints have been made from students who use the crosswalks outside of several residence halls, such as the crosswalks on Golden Gate Ave. and Tamalpais Ter., Turk and Tamalpais Ter., and Anza St. and Collins St. Although there are currently motions to improve all of these intersections, only one has seen actual progress: that on Anza St. and Collins St.
Loyola Village residents are among the on-campus students who have encountered unsafe situations on the corner of Anza and Collins, most frequently used to get to the 38 bus stop on Geary St. and Collins. Now that a crosswalk has been placed in that intersection, students have reported feeling safer. “I feel like the crosswalk allows the drivers on Anza to know that there’s a possibility that people are crossing, which not a lot of them realize. The fact that it’s there will make drivers more cautious, it lets drivers know that there are pedestrians trying to get to the bus stop,” said junior accounting major and Loyola Village resident, Brandon Padron.
Although three incidents were reported to various residence hall staff this past semester, only one was actually brought to Public Safety. The student was hit on the corner of Golden Gate Ave. and Roselyn Terrace, attempting to cross the street in front of War Memorial Gym.
Students who are attempting to move from lower campus to upper campus also struggle with the intersection at Tamalpais Ter. and Turk St. “I’m very aware of my surroundings because of the hill that’s there. When you’re crossing both ways you can’t tell how fast cars are going to be coming over it,” said senior Austin Sacks, who uses the intersection to get from class to class around campus.
Lawson says that the city currently has plans to renovate Turk St., which he hopes will ease students’ fear of accidents. The city has plans to renovate Masonic Ave., which will increase the need for parking on Turk. Vertical parking spots will be painted on the road, cutting the number of lanes and slowing the speed of traffic. Lawson believes that the slower the cars drive, the safer students will feel while crossing the road. “Eventually they will cut it down to one lane on Turk, so there will be some traffic calming between Masonic and Parker,” he said.
Neighbors to USF have raised concern over some of the University’s proposals to renovate the other surrounding streets, however, and according to Lawson, this conversation has been happening for quite some time. “We had money set aside to give toward traffic calming on Golden Gate and on Turk. There hasn’t been a decision by the neighbors in regard to what they want to do. We’ve recommended closing down Golden Gate, but I don’t think it’s going to happen because the neighbors don’t like it.” Lawson says that the funds set aside will be partially allocated to “bulbing out” the sidewalks at intersections. This includes extending the concrete of the sidewalk into the street so that pedestrians can see moving vehicles on protected ground without the obstruction of parked vehicles.
“Turk is a little bit more complicated because that’s kind of a main trafficway where a lot of cars travel, and it’s a street that splits the University in half,” said Bhutani. “That’s somewhere where we would need to get the city of San Francisco more involved, which is why that’s probably the last thing that we’ll be able to tackle on our list.”
Since a lengthy wait time can be expected of these renovations, RHA has more immediate solutions to the crosswalks problem. One proposed solution includes adding lights or a reflective feature to the crosswalks on Golden Gate and Turk so that they are more visible to cars during the evening. RHA is also considering the possibility of neon flags at crosswalks, a method that has also been used on other universities.
Containers holding these large flags would sit on each end of the crosswalks in question, and students would pick up a flag before crossing the street, carry it across the road, and dispense it in the bin on the other side. Bhutani proposes that Public Safety would retrieve these flags late at night to ensure that they are not stolen.“They have been proven to improve visibility while crossing the street. Cars are more likely to stop when they see someone crossing the street with a giant flag,” said Bhutani.
“I think it’s a collaborative effort amongst drivers and pedestrians, we all have to assume responsibility. Everything I really needed to learn, I learned in kindergarten. Look both ways before you cross, make eye contact with the driver so that the driver sees you. That is probably the biggest thing we can all do to prevent this from happening,” said Lawson.