It took years of complaints, the death of a 20-year-old student and more than four years of petitioning, but a new traffic light was finally turned on at the San Juan Avenue and Alemany Boulevard intersection.
When Stacey Krause, a City College of San Francisco student, was fatally struck by a speeding car at the intersection in October 2008, Active Leadership to Advance the Youth launched the “Stop and Sign for Safety Campaign” to prevent future accidents at the spot. ALAY is a group that aims to build a community among young people in the Excelsior District.
“The fact that we got a stoplight here means that it could be done,” Supervisor John Avalos said. “If we can continue to come together and work as a community, we can resolve more of the issues.”
Avalos has openly supported ALAY’s campaign and was at the intersection along with members of the community on April 20 to celebrate the implementation of the stoplight and commemorate Krause’s death.
The intersection is located off of Ocean Avenue and has been considered a hazard for several years. Shortly before Kraus’ death, members of the community informed the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency about the dangers of the intersection but were originally told that no changes were necessary. After Krause’s death, SFMTA began to take the complaints more seriously.
“Anything other than a stoplight wouldn’t have been effective enough to slow down traffic,” Avalos said. “There is a blind curve so cars that are going fast don’t have a lot of time to anticipate that someone might be crossing the street. The person who hit Stacey didn’t see her crossing the street.”
According to Paul Rose, spokesman for SFMTA, eight collisions have occurred in that intersection in the last five years, and two of those collisions involved pedestrians.
“The Agency has been implementing pedestrian safety measures at this location over the years, including new fluorescent yellow green pedestrian warning signs, visibility red zones, widened median refuge islands and continental crosswalks,” Rose said.
Some SF State students who regularly drive around the Mission Terrace neighborhood are aware of the speedy drivers and heavy foot traffic.
“I have friends who live in that area so I’m pretty familiar with that intersection,” said Emily Filippo, a biology major. “I’ve noticed that people usually come around that curve pretty fast, so putting in a stoplight was definitely a good decision.”
ALAY began the campaign by inviting Krause’s friends and members of the Excelsior District to join the first community forum to plan how to make the intersection safer. They eventually began writing letters to send to SFMTA to show that there was support from the community to improve the intersection. ALAY received approximately 1,000 signatures on the written petition and more than 500 signatures on the online petition.
“Stop and Sign for Safety started about a month after the incident happened,” said Lyka Ibarra, a member of ALAY. “It took a lot of hard work and gathering signatures from the neighbors and San Francisco residents to show SFMTA that there is a need for a stoplight in the Alemany and San Juan intersection. It feels really good to know that pedestrians can now cross that intersection safely.”