New pedestrian advocacy group presents San Diego's "terrible ten" dangerous intersections

Walk San Diego shows safety and "pedestrian friendly" go hand-in-hand.

provided by Walk San Diego


edestrian advocates, concerned about the increasing danger to pedestrians throughout the region, last month announced the formation of Walk San Diego. In a morning press conference, the newly formed group presented the "Terrible Ten" intersections it considers among the most dangerous in the region to pedestrians. The group held a public meeting to discuss ways CalTrans and the region's 19 municipalities should improve conditions for pedestrians.

"Surveys show San Diegans consider walkability an important neighborhood feature, yet dangerous intersections are largely neglected and new ones are still being built," said David Schumacher, Walk San Diego Chairman. "Walk San Diego formed because we're very concerned with the high rate of pedestrian injuries in San Diego, and the lack of planning for pedestrians in general. Walking is the forgotten transportation mode." Last year, 134 pedestrians were killed in San Diego County, representing 28 percent of all traffic fatalities. This figure is more than twice the national average of 13 percent.

The intersections cited include 2nd and Cedar and 3rd and B in downtown San Diego, Rosecrans and Sports Arena Boulevard in Point Loma, two sites in Mission Valley, Clairemont Drive where it crosses I-5, Broadway and H Street in Chula Vista, San Ysidro Boulevard one block north of the border crossing, University and Arnold in North Park, Black Mountain Road and Mira Mesa Boulevard, and Waring Road and Briar Road.


Wild in the streets

In 1998, 12 year old Aleszondra Afflalo was killed and her brother Adam was injured while using a crosswalk at the Waring Road location. In February, the City of San Diego paid $700,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the victims' family. Prior to the accident, the city had received numerous complaints about the intersection.

"Today, we call on all the cities in this region to overhaul their street standards to serve all users of the street, not just cars," said Walk San Diego Board member Tina Zenzola, Director of the California Center for Childhood Injury Prevention. "Many other cities around the country have created safer conditions for pedestrians while still accommodating auto traffic. As a community, we should no longer tolerate tragic and preventable pedestrian injuries."

"Pedestrian accidents are usually blamed on the pedestrian," Mr. Schumacher stated. "In fact, the design of our neighborhood streets encourages speeding. As someone who walks to work once or twice a week, I can attest that most intersections are intimidating to cross, and sidewalks are designed without understanding what pedestrians need." He added, "Despite our great climate, most San Diegans are reluctant to walk because they don't feel safe. This is especially true with parents of young children."

Ms. Zenzola noted, "Everyone is talking about the need for 'Smart Growth' and more public transit. But remember, almost every transit rider is also a pedestrian. By erecting barriers to walking, we've forced people into cars. Other cities have found ways to make it pleasant to walk to the store, to school, to public transit, or a neighbor's house. It's time we did the same here."

Although active informally since 1998, Walk San Diego recently became affiliated with the nonprofit group San Diego Coalition For Transportation Choices. The two groups are working to promote alternatives to using a car for most trips. Walk San Diego sees as its mission making streets more safe and inviting for walking, and intermixing residential areas with parks, stores and businesses so pedestrians have accessible destinations.

"Back when glue factories were next door to tenement housing, it made sense to separate land uses, but we've taken this to the extreme," said Mr. Schumacher. "Truly livable communities have parks, stores, and workplaces within walking distance of homes."

"Walking isn't merely a pleasant activity," Ms. Zenzola pointed out. "Childhood obesity has increased 14 percent in just 10 years, thanks to the rise of unwalkable suburbs. The lack of places to walk is becoming an enormous public health issue."

For information, contact David Schumacher at (619)557-4565 or Andy Hamilton at (858) 650-4671.