According to the website for Vision Zero SF, San Francisco's road safety policy intended to end all traffic fatalities by 2024, 41% of collisions between vehicles and pedestrians take place in crosswalks. Here are two recent examples: last Friday, the driver of a Muni bus struck a woman in a crosswalk at 25th and South Van Ness, and July 20, Rose Kelly was killed by a driver as she walked through a crosswalk at a four-way stop at 33rd Avenue and Cabrillo Street.
To illustrate the perils crosswalk-walkers face in San Francisco, KRON4's Stanley Roberts headed to the corner of Geary Boulevard and Cook Street to see how drivers did when confronted with folks on foot. You will likely be unsurprised to learn that they did not do so well! Drivers on Geary crossing Cook (Roberts describes the intersection as "Geary and Cole," but I believe that was a slip of the tongue) don't have a stop sign, which means that even when pedestrians were clearly waiting to go, the drivers had no interest in letting them cross. You can see it all in the video below.
By failing to let those pedestrians cross, drivers are breaking the law. According to Walk SF, cross-waling pedestrians have the right of way, so if there's one waiting an an intersection, drivers must stop. Furthermore, "All intersections of streets wider than 25 feet are legal crosswalks, unless they specifically say 'no crossing'...Whether the crossing is marked or unmarked with crosswalk paint, it’s a legal crosswalk."
And even if there's not a pedestrian, folks in traffic need to keep the crosswalk clear, as "drivers and cyclists are required to yield, i.e., stop behind the line and leave crosswalks free for pedestrians." (Here are the relevant regulations: CVC 21954 (b), CVC 21950, and CVC 21455.)
Roberts also notes that while the law requires you to stop at the crosswalk, some intersections demand that you stop earlier. You know that line of triangles you see before some crossings? Those are called “shark’s teeth," and if you see those while driving, that's where you have to hit the brakes.
Obviously, if an SFPD officer decides to cite a driver for violating those laws it can get pricey (an SFPD spokesperson said they'd "have to research" the exact fine amount, and had not responded at publication time), but more importantly, someone can get hurt or die. That alone seems to make stopping for pedestrians something to consider!
But walkers have their own part in this, too: according to California's DMV, these laws "do not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety."
"No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk." So, yeah, we're all in this one together, folks.