Neighborhood groups, pedestrian advocates and transit representatives are asking for safety upgrades at a confusing intersection that was the site of a fatal cable car accident in 2008.
Although the intersection of Broadway and Mason Street is light on vehicle traffic, it’s located below the crest of a hill on the Powell-Mason cable car line, a situation that has led to some dangerous encounters between pedestrians and The City’s “moving monuments.”
Because the cable cars tend to stop at the middle of the intersection and not before a stop sign, crossing Mason Street can be very confusing, according to Deland Chan of the Chinatown Community Development Center. Also, the hilly Mason Street, which peaks just one block north of the intersection, makes visibility an issue, Chan said.
The fact that the intersection is the site of the Lady Shaw Senior Center and the Jean Parker Elementary School complicates matters even further.
“The elderly and children are the people who are most often crossing this intersection,” Chan said. “And they are the most vulnerable pedestrian populations in The City.”
That vulnerability was highlighted in September 2008, when Jin Xi Yu Lin, an 80-year-old resident at the Lady Shaw Senior Center, was fatally struck by a cable car at the intersection.
Chan said safety at the intersection would be improved by four-way traffic signals, similar to the ones installed last year at Mason and Filbert streets — the site of another fatal cable car accident. For three years, Chan and the Chinatown center lobbied to get the lights installed after the death of Joyce Yuet Wah Lam in 2006.
Self Help for the Elderly, the organization that manages the Lady Shaw Senior Center, has repeatedly asked for traffic lights at the intersection, but each time they have been rebuffed by The City due to lack of funding, according to Josephine Ma, fund development director for the group.
Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe of Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy organization, said there are not enough “no-parking” zones at the cable car loading stops on Mason Street. With the glut of vehicles parked on the street, pedestrians have trouble seeing passing motorists, particularly at hilly spots, she said. Getting cars off the streets would help improve the safety.
While the community waits for pedestrian upgrades, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages traffic in The City, has added slight improvements to the intersection by relocating a cable car boarding sign so it doesn’t block the stop sign at the crossing, according to department spokesman Paul Rose. For now, the intersection will remain without traffic lights, he said.
700,000 Daily boardings on Muni system
6,578 Daily boardings on Mason-Powell cable car line
2 Fatalities on Mason Street related to cable cars since 2006
2009 Year four-way traffic signals were installed at Broadway and Filbert Street