A Foster City councilman is pushing for action on pedestrian safety after a 17-year-old girl was seriously injured by a car in an intersection early Friday morning.
“Foster City is a family-centric city. It’s a walkable and bikeable community, and it’s meant to be,” said Foster City Councilman Herb Perez. “I’m making this my personal cause. I will absolutely see something there because the amount of complaints we get from that intersection warrant what’s in the best interests of the citizens’ safety.”
Perez wants the City Council to discuss additional pedestrian and bicycle safety measures and has the support of former mayor Pam Frisella and residents who have contacted him after Friday’s accident.
At 6:49 a.m. Friday, the girl was walking in the crosswalk of Port Royal Avenue and Edgewater Boulevard when she was struck and seriously injured by a woman driving a BMW, according to Foster City police Capt. Joe Pierucci. As of Monday, the girl was still in the intensive care unit at Stanford Medical Center with significant injuries but is expected to survive, Pierucci said.
Perez and Frisella live a few blocks from the site of the accident and the dangers of this intersection have troubled them for years.
There are guidelines and equations used to gauge the appropriateness of a stop sign or signal light in a particular location. Speed limits, vehicle and pedestrian traffic rates and other factors are considered, Frisella said. Those guidelines had previously prevented the installment of safety devices along Edgewater Boulevard, but accidents such as this highlight the need for officials to focus on safety and not codes, Frisella said.
“It should be all about safety, not about what the law says … but I think we should forget those laws, forget those codes,” Frisella said.
It’s odd that the busier Edgewater Boulevard doesn’t have a stop sign while Port Royal Avenue does, Perez said.
“The road with the least amount of traffic, the least amount of cars has a stop sign. While the road with the most cars and a 40 mph speed limit has no stop signs,” Perez said.
He crosses the intersection daily and a gymnastics facility, martial arts school, tutoring centers, a children’s hair salon, a church and Foster City Elementary School are all nearby, Perez said. The city has attempted to improve safety on Edgewater Boulevard, but it hasn’t been enough, Perez said.
“It’s a crosswalk that has ‘slow down’ painted, it’s got a watch for pedestrian sign and that’s not slowing people down,” Perez said. “At what point do we decide it’s an important enough issue for us? At what point are we going to deal with this?”
It’s unfortunate that tragic accidents enticed action in this case and in previous ones, Frisella said.
A few years ago, citizens asked for a stop sign at Beach Park and Foster City boulevards but it wasn’t until a car struck a child on a bicycle that one was finally installed, Frisella said.
Police have conducted sting operations, posing as pedestrians and writing tickets in an attempt to deter drivers from failing to adhere to pedestrians in the crosswalk. Perez said he also seen one driver stop to let a pedestrian pass while another in the next lane nearly struck the pedestrian, Perez said.
Mayor Charlie Bronitsky said he expects the issue will be placed on a future council agenda for discussion. Although he would not comment on the issue of street safety, Bronitsky wrote in an email he believes “the council always has and I believe will always place the highest value on the safety of people in Foster City.”
Collision rates in the city decreased by about 10 percent in 2013 and, of the 39 injury collisions, only four involved pedestrians, Pierucci said. Both drivers and pedestrians need to be hyper cognizant of their surroundings, Pierucci said.
“We can never assume that a driver sees a pedestrian. It’s indicative that there be some sort of eye contact before we step out in a roadway, especially during early morning hours and late at night,” Pierucci said.
Pedestrians can have a false sense of security that they have the right of way when in a crosswalk, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. Whether someone is driving, walking or biking, people should remember their actions have effects, Frisella said.
“I’m angry. I’m not angry at our police department or our planning department, I’m angry that people are just not paying attention. I’m angry that people will not take personal responsibility for human beings, including themselves,” Frisella said.
Both pedestrians and drivers need to protect themselves and abide by laws, Perez said.
“I don’t underestimate the importance of personal responsibility on both the behalf of pedestrians and motorists. However … the ultimate responsibility lies with the motorist to be cognizant of the traffic situation,” Perez said.
The investigation is still ongoing so city officials would not comment on case specifics. But Perez believes there was inattentiveness on at least one, if not both, parties.
Whether people are distracted, commuting during poor vision conditions or simply just failing to abide by the law, the council and city need to do everything they can to protect citizens’ welfare on the road, Perez said.
“I’ve heard enough from the traffic committee on this issue, I believe this is a matter for the council,” Perez said. “In cases of public safety, I tend to defer to more restrictive then less restrictive. We’re talking about lives and personal safety.”
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