Noe Valley Voice October 2011

Traffic Safety Campaign Revs Up

Residents Launch Website to Track Accidents

By Tim Innes

Seattle resident Colette Johnson has spent the past month and a half in Noe Valley, recovering from injuries sustained Aug. 10 when she was hit by a pickup on Dolores at Valley Street.    Photo by Najib Joe Hakim 

If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident at 24th and Church streets, had a close call, or witnessed an accident there, Bruce, Daniels, and Moore would like to hear from you.

No, BD&M are not personal injury lawyers. They are Catherine Bruce, her husband Ed Moore, and Kevin Daniels, all of whose lives have been affected by collisions at the busy Noe Valley intersection.

After reading a Voice story about Daniels’ one-man campaign to make the intersection safer (“Accident at 24th & Church a Call to Action for Nearby Resident,” May 2011), Bruce and Moore offered Daniels their help. The Jersey Street couple, both with high-tech backgrounds, suggested setting up an online forum where neighbors could share experiences and mobilize community support for safety measures. Daniels immediately accepted their offer.

Daniels, whose 24th Street condo overlooks the intersection, was stirred to action after a pedestrian was struck in the crosswalk between Sterling Bank and Happy Donuts. He said that while hazardous conditions are well-known, “people feel helpless.” He hopes that the group’s new website,, will empower residents to press City Hall for change.

Like Daniels, Moore and Bruce support installing traffic signals at the intersection, which has streetcar platforms and heavy vehicle and foot traffic. They are convinced that traffic lights and “Walk/Don’t Walk” signals could have prevented the Dec. 20, 2009, accident that put Moore in San Francisco General Hospital for nearly seven weeks.

Moore, 60, was about three-quarters of the way across Church, between Navvarete’s martial arts studio and the donut shop, shortly after dark when he was struck by a southbound car and thrown 20 feet past the crosswalk. Bills for his hospitalization, surgery to reconstruct a fractured arm and leg, and nearly a year of physical therapy totaled $1 million, an amount he notes could pay for signals to be installed at 24th and Church, as well as two or three other intersections.

To document dangers, Daniels, an industrial film maker, is shooting traffic at the corner. He hopes to edit the hours of video into a 15-minute highlight reel of near-misses to display on the website and show at community meetings. Daniels said the three hope to enlist the help of such groups as Friends of Noe Valley and Upper Noe Neighbors, as well as merchant and parent-teacher organizations, to campaign for safety throughout the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Moore, who still walks with a limp and uses a cane nearly two years after his accident, is counting vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the intersection. According to his reading of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the intersection more than meets federal standards for installation of traffic signals. But since it can take up to three years for signals to be green-lighted, the trio is advocating stepped-up police enforcement, traffic-calming measures, and public awareness campaigns in the interim.

Serious Injury on Dolores Street

A new group focused on traffic safety is asking pedestrians and drivers to help document accidents at the intersection of Church and 24th Street.

One street that might benefit from traffic-calming is Dolores between 30th and Cesar Chavez streets. Extra wide because of its palm-studded median and lacking crosswalks at many intersections, the thoroughfare can be unfriendly to pedestrians. Colette Johnson, a 23-year-old visitor from Seattle, learned that the hard way.

Johnson was walking west across Dolores at Valley Street at about 6 p.m. on Aug. 10 when she was struck by a pickup turning left into the northbound lanes. She was rushed to San Francisco General with a fractured skull, intracranial bleeding, and a herniated disc in her neck.

After two weeks in the hospital, Johnson, who lived on Valley Street as a child, is recuperating at the home of a family friend. She is suffering from memory loss, double vision, chronic dizziness, and loss of taste and smell. She faces months of speech and physical therapy and has had to put her dream of being a Fulbright scholar on hold.

Recent accidents such as Johnson’s, plus fatalities at 18th and Hartford and 14th and Noe streets, have gotten the attention of District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener. In his September newsletter, Wiener acknowledged problems at such intersections as 24th and Church, Bosworth and Diamond in Glen Park, and Noe and Market in the Castro and declared that pedestrian safety is one of his “most important policy goals.”

Bruce, Moore, and Daniels aim to make sure that goal is met.