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SF stretches signal lights for more crossing time

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Advocates for pedestrian safety show support for adding more time to crosswalk signals in San Francisco, Calif., on May 9, 2018.

Pedestrians and people with mobility issues will now have more time to cross San Francisco streets.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced Wednesday that they will re-time more than 1,200 street signals in The City toward people who walk three feet per second, down from the current 3.5 feet per second.

Advocates for pedestrian safety celebrated the victory at Geary Boulevard and Presidio Avenue, a block away from Masonic Avenue and Geary Boulevard where advocates had demanded and demonstrated last year that the SFMTA needs give more crossing time for pedestrians.

Cathy DeLuca, program and policy director with Walk San Francisco, said the Senior & Disability Action group along with the Transit Justice group, went to different communities throughout The City to speak with seniors and people with disabilities about what their pedestrian safety concerns were:

“What they heard was people did not have enough time to cross the street. They couldn’t make it safely across.”

Supervisor Sandra Fewer, who represents the Richmond District, said the new traffic signal timing will not only benefit seniors and people with disabilities, but also parents with strollers and young children as well:

“With the added traffic in our city, I think this is wise and prudent to do this.”

It will take The City several years to make the changes to the more than 1,200 signals, said City Traffic Engineer Ricardo Olea.

Olea said work is already underway in parts of The City including the downtown area and South of Market.

Sam Alicia Duke, a member of Transit Justice group who worked on convincing The City to change the timing of crosswalk countdown signals, said:

“It is a glorious day in San Francisco for everybody to cross the streets safely whether you’re 90 or nine, or nine months.”

SFMTA Board of Directors chair Cheryl Brinkman said the transit agency got the message from pedestrian safety advocates:

“We heard loud clear from the community that you needed more time in the pedestrian clearance time.”

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