Questioning the Wisdom of Adding “Pedestrian Islands” to the Middle of the Street, as Here on McAllister in The Projects

See this pedestrian island smack dab in the middle of McAllister at what remains of Octavia?

It didn’t used to be there. Oh, here we go:

Pedestrian islands provide a raised refuge area in the middle of the street for crossing pedestrians.”

Click to expand

So what this does is bottleneck McAllister traffic by not letting bikes and vehicles easily pass through the Octavia “intersection” at the same time.

I cry foul. IMO, this isn’t good design for pedestrians, cyclists, car drivers, bus drivers or firetruck drivers.

So what is this island good for – satisfying the ideological requirements of the sainted SFMTA?

Apparently.

But be my guest, go out there and take a look and see how traffic flows at this particular intersection, say around 5 PM during the evening drive.

Be my guest.

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8 Responses to “Questioning the Wisdom of Adding “Pedestrian Islands” to the Middle of the Street, as Here on McAllister in The Projects”

  1. Rkeezy says:

    The islands installed on Judah/Parnassus actually have created a hazard by making it very difficult for drivers and pedestrians to see each other. I’m not sure what the logic behind islands are – some kind of bunker against cars? Run there, hide, then run again like frogger? Traffic works because people behave predictably. If you reduce visibility, that is bad 100% of the time. I assume some kid who spent a semester in Denmark has it all figured out for us at his job at the SFMTA.

  2. Einstein says:

    “The islands installed on Judah/Parnassus actually have created a hazard by making it very difficult for drivers and pedestrians to see each other.” – Nonsense; the concrete base is five inches high and the width of the bright neon colored sign with the alert symbols are approximately ten inches wide. If Peter Dinklage were playing with your last nerve you would have a point, but If you cannot see a pedestrian crossing or standing IN that space you’re not paying appropriate attention as a driver in a densely populated city.
    The crossing signs are only placed mid-block, and they should alert a driver that a pedestrian – inattentive or not – may suddenly walk out into the crosswalk.
    As a driver, I can see that the signs are a good idea on long stretches of street.

  3. Alai says:

    I question the wisdom of designing streets around traffic at 5pm. I’ll trade some rush hour congestion for a nicer environment the other 20 hours of the day.

  4. sfcitizen says:

    Well, what I’m saying holds 24/7. Forcing drivers two feet to the right at the exact point where there’s a crosswalk that’s almost inevitably partially occluded by the inevitable large 1980′s style white workvan is my idea of a bad idea. That’s exactly where I would drift over the centerline (depending on the presence of oncoming traffic) when driving. For safety. For the purpose of not hitting peds.

  5. Alai says:

    That’s just it. If the view is occluded by a 1980s workvan, do we expect drivers to slow down? No, we make room for them to move to the center of the street, so they don’t have to slow down. What happens, then, when there’s a 1980s workvan AND there’s oncoming traffic? If you can’t drift over the centerline– what then? Do you slow down to a reasonable speed, or do you just keep going because that’s what you’re used to?

    That’s the point. If you’re a good driver and you slow down, then you’ll slow down at an island, and there’s no issue. If you don’t slow down, then you’re begging to hit someone. Not having an island is not a safety measure– it’s a “let’s accommodate bad drivers and keep auto speeds high while keeping it pretty safe, most of the time anyway” measure.

  6. sfcitizen says:

    If there was oncoming traffic, then I would go slower and stay in the lane. What’s a reasonable speed for mcallister?

  7. Alai says:

    Whatever speed you need to drive to avoid hitting someone who’s come out from behind a 1980s workvan.

  8. sfcitizen says:

    That speed is lower now due to the “refuge” island. You think that’s a good thing, I don’t. In other parts of the city, the SFMTA thinks it’s good to “daylight” intersections, but not here, for some reason

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