Attention Pedestrians: Green Does Not Mean Go in San Francisco

The failings of the drivers of San Francisco are well-documented…

…but what about pedestrians - how are they doing?

Not well, based upon their behavior in the Financh and other nearby districts. Let’s take a look at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission‘s “Safety Toolbox: Common Violations for Pedestrian-Involved Collisions” for some help:

Common pedestrian-at-fault violations

Pedestrian Violation Outside Crosswalk 21954.A  Pedestrians Outside Crosswalks
Pedestrian Violation at Crosswalk 21950.B  Right-of-Way at Crosswalks
Pedestrian Violation of Signals 21451.C  Circular Green or Green Arrow21451.D  Circular Green or Green Arrow

21453.D  Circular Red or Red Arrow

21456.A  Walk, Wait, or Don’t Walk

21456.B  Walk, Wait, or Don’t Walk

21462.  Obedience to Traffic Control Signals

Jaywalking 21955.  Crossing Between Controlled Intersections
Pedestrian on Roadway 21956.  Pedestrian on Roadway

The problem is that lots of peds violate California Vehicle Code Section 21451(c) and 21456(a) without knowing it. That is, they routinely enter crosswalks immediately after their light turns green. That’s a no-no in CA unless you make sure that traffic has cleared the intersection first.

21451(c) A pedestrian facing a circular green signal… may proceed across the roadway within any marked or unmarked crosswalk, but shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully within the intersection at the time that signal is first shown.”

“21456 Whenever a pedestrian control signal showing the words “WALK” or “WAIT” or “DONT WALK” or other approved symbol is in place, the signal shall indicate as follows: (a) “WALK” or approved “Walking Person” symbol.  A pedestrian facing the signal may proceed across the roadway in the direction of the signal, but shall yield the right-of-way to vehicles lawfully within the intersection at the time that signal is first shown.”

Can a ped get a ticket for blocking a car? Yes, but I’ve never heard of it. Prices start at $108 - I’m sure that they can easily exceed that what with court fees and whatnot.

21451(c,d) Green Signal–Pedestrian Responsibilities $108.00

So, green does not mean go. Green means go after the intersection has cleared – this applies to pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, everybody.

The real concern for pedestrians is them being held at fault after being hit by a vehicle. The issue turns on whether the driver entered into the intersection on a red light or not. When you encounter Third Street and Market, where cars need to travel 175+ feet to clear the intersection, extra vigilance is needed. The only thing keeping most pedestrians from immediately crossing on a green is a caravan a slowly moving cars trying to clear the intersection.

So you can continue living your life thinking that cars are running red lights at every busy intersection during every light cycle, or you can learn the PEDESTRIAN CROSSWALK DUTIES in California.

Your choice, ped.

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2 Responses to “Attention Pedestrians: Green Does Not Mean Go in San Francisco”

  1. Alexei says:

    It should be noted that a car that’s stuck in the middle of an intersection is itself guilty of failing to clear an intersection. The cars in the picture are obviously in violation. I think if the pedestrians obeyed the letter of the law, they would literally never get anywhere. They can’t just wait for those cars to move, since they won’t move until their light turns green, and on the next cycle, the pattern will repeat. It would be impossible to cross the street.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    Testify brother. The two cars in the photo are obviously doing something wrong and the peds aren’t doing anything wrong.

    If traffic is congested and moving slowly, it’s easy for drivers to get confused at this particular intersection, which is easily a half a football field long.

    The peds that do things the wrong way are on the Kearny part of this complicated intersection. I’ll get a video or photo to illustrate this sometime.

    I don’t know that this particular intersection at Third is particularly unsafe or deadly, but I do know of deaths at Church and Market due to peds just taking off when they see a green. A while back a woman in a crosswalk on Market and Church was killed by a streetcar many seconds after her light turned green – she was held at fault due to the fact that the streetcar entered the intersection on a yellow and the fact that it takes a long time for a slow-moving streetcar to clear this intersection.