Double Fine Zones Unveiled on 19th and Van Ness Avenues

December 23, 2008

Yee highlights driving safety for the holidays as double fine zones finally take effect

SAN FRANCISCO - Over four years ago, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) and other community members began an ambitious effort to help protect pedestrians along San Francisco's deadly 19th Avenue, a major corridor connecting San Mateo and Marin counties.

Through the years, several improvements have been delivered including pedestrian countdown signals, improved lighting, curb ramps, advance stop bar striping, more visible crosswalks, better timing of traffic signals, enhanced access to bus stops, new signage, speed limit reductions, and public awareness campaigns. Despite the many improvements, pedestrian related accidents continue to plague the corridor, including five deaths in 2007.

Today, Yee and other pedestrian safety advocates unveiled signs designating the corridor a double fine zone, which the Senator believes is "the missing piece to the puzzle."

The signs are the result of a new law authored by Yee which takes effect January 1 and declares 19th Avenue (Highway 1 between the intersection of 19th Avenue and Junipero Serra Boulevard and the intersection of Highway 1 at Lake Street) as a Safety Enhancement-Double Fine Zone for a period of five years. The law also creates a double fine zone on another dangerous San Francisco corridor - US Route 101 (Van Ness Avenue at Golden Gate Avenue to Lombard Street at Lyon Street).

"Finally, we now have the missing piece to the puzzle and can hopefully put an end to the loss of innocent lives, including students and elders, because of these high speed avenues," said Yee. "This new law is the result of hundreds of committed residents not giving up and fighting to make their neighborhood safer."

Yee has been working to create a double fine zone along 19th Avenue since 2004 when he was in the Assembly, with one bill that was vetoed by the Governor and two that stalled in committee.

"We praise Senator Yee for his persistence in pursuing a double fine zone for 19th Ave," said Manish Champsee, President of Walk San Francisco, a pedestrian safety advocacy organization. "Studies have shown that the faster a vehicle is traveling, the more likely and more deadly a crash with a pedestrian will be."

Under the new law, base fines for unlawful passing and overtaking, excessive speed, reckless driving, drunken driving, and other similar serious moving violations will be doubled. Current base fines range from $25.00 (for speeding up to 15 mph over the limit) to $500 (for reckless driving causing great bodily injury). Adding local and state assessments and the new double fine, tickets will range from $137.50 (for speeding over the limit up to 15 mph) to $2,750.00 (for reckless driving causing great bodily injury).

The law also allows the Department of Transportation to collect data to establish permanent statewide criteria for pedestrian safety-double fine zones.

From 2003 through 2007, there were more than 589 collisions, including 64 involving pedestrians, along 19th Avenue. These accidents resulted in 669 injuries and 10 pedestrian deaths. Along Van Ness Avenue, there were more than 527 collisions of which 71 involved pedestrians, resulting in 590 injuries and 5 pedestrian deaths.

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Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008