Friday, February 20, 2009

CVC 21950(a)

SF Citizen poses a question for those of you who travel through SF behind a windshield: What do you do when you approach an intersection - no stoplight - with some poor abuelita waiting, stranded on the median for a chance to cross the street?

This is hardly an academic issue; there are hundreds, if not thousands of intersections in this city where at least one direction of traffic has no signal or sign. What do you do? No stop sign, no stop light, no stop - right? No.

California Vehicle Code (that thing you had to pretend to have read when you were 15) Section 21950 (a) states unambiguously:
The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
So, since you like totally knew that, you stop.

But these uncontrolled intersections usually occur at broad, multi-lane expressways. What, then, asks SF Citizen, of the cars that just keep on cruising past, preventing the pedestrian from crossing? Law of the jungle? My car is bigger and faster so I crush you if you try to slow me down? Once again we can turn to that obscure tome, the CVC. This time Section 21951:
Whenever any vehicle has stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.
I suppose it's unreasonable to hold drivers to the rules of the CVC. We certainly don't enforce it's provisions to any reasonable extent. Since there's almost no chance of getting a ticket for violating CVC 21950 (a) or 21951, it's to be expected that nobody abides by them.

Well that's not okay! Enforcement of these and other laws protecting pedestrians has to be some kind of a priority.

SF Citizen suggests signalizing these intersections, at least the most dangerous of them. I completely support that idea. Good street design works as a compliment to law enforcement. It's past time to get some action from our civic leaders on this issue. Since our lovely mayor actively violates the vehicle code I suggest contacting your member of the Board of Supervisors, or writing a letter to the editor of the Chronicle, Examiner, Guardian, or other newspaper of choice.


troymccluresf said...

Well, I drove until recently, and when I was in the right lane and saw someone in the left lane stop without a turn signal, I'd proceed really slowly because I figure if they're trying to avoid hitting something, I should too.

There were a few times (usually on Geary) where I'd be in the left lane and stop, and when it was clear that no one else was going to stop, the pedestrian would just wave my ahead... no sense in us both just sitting there. :/

bbq said...

i got a ticket for 21950 in Livermore. It was a set up. Livermore PD entrap poor drivers. I am fighting this ticket. Will take any help I can get. court Date 12/29/09. email me for more data

Pedestrianist said...


I suggest reading up on the legal definition of entrapment. Cops don't need to wait for ordinary citizens to become the victims of drivers failing to yield. They can try crossing the street themselves and if you don't yield to them you broke the law.