Eyes on the Street: Icy, Potholed Downtown Alleys Need Raised Crosswalks

Alley crossing

Outside the Bank of America Theater Wednesday, people walk across an alley that's flooded. It was full of ice this morning. Photo: Anne Alt

Reader Anne Alt sends in these photos showing the dismal walking conditions at alley crossings and street intersections in the Loop. She reports that the alley crossings in her photos have turned into ice ponds:

One of the biggest problems with our Loop alley crossings is the volume of traffic and the fact that pedestrians are often forced to walk in wet or icy areas to get around cars or trucks waiting to exit the alley.

Last year, Department of Transportation crews repaired many curb ramps and alley crossings to bring them into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act, but the curbs and sidewalks where people walk the most have yet to receive repairs. New curb ramps were installed in neighborhoods like Avondale, where I live, which were fine to begin with and see relatively light foot traffic, when there were hundreds of curb ramps and sidewalks in the Loop marred by holes and ponds, where hundreds of thousands of people walk each day. According to CDOT, walkways in the Loop will get more attention later this year as part of the State Street Corridor Priority Area ADA Curb Ramp project.

Alley crossing

People walking downtown must squeeze between cars - atop iced and potholed pavement - turning from alleys onto the roadway. Photo: Anne Alt

One idea to fix some of the alley crossings in the Loop would be to install raised crosswalks. This would solve two issues:

  1. Pedestrian rights-of-way would no longer flood. However, any flooding that occurs because of our backed up sewer and stormwater system or poor road drainage would affect the street’s other users, motorists and people riding bikes.
  2. It would serve as a traffic calming device and tell drivers to yield to pedestrians, the most vulnerable people out there.
Raised crosswalks, Newcomb Ave.

Raised crosswalk at a driveway intersection in Bayview, San Francisco. Photo by Friends of the Urban Forest.