The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has facilities on both side of 24th Street to the south of Broadway. Employees must go back and forth between the two facilities, but DMV does not think that it is safe for their employees to use the mid-block crosswalk without the extra protection of a crossing guard.
What are they being protected against? Well, drivers that have been licensed by DMV. Drivers who either do not know the law on yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, or who choose not to follow it. Drivers who are distracted by cell phones. Drivers who drive over the speed limit. Drivers who are inattentive to their surroundings. You would think that maybe this hazard would cause DMV to reconsider their lackadaisical method of licensing motor vehicle drivers. Maybe drivers should be relicensed on a regular basis instead of receiving what is essentially a life-time license. Maybe drivers should have to demonstrate safe driving skills, knowledge of the law, and pro-social attitudes. Maybe. But DMV doesn’t seem interested in improving the safety of all roadways, but would rather solve a specific problem by using a crossing guard.
Another issue is that the street has been striped with a wide median in the center (not a physical median) to provide a place for the R1-6 Yield to Pedestrian signs and a refuge for pedestrians and the crossing guard. Normally this would be a good thing, but the wide painted median pushed the travel lanes to the side and pinches out the shoulder that is used by bicyclists. So in making things safer for pedestrians, the city has made things less safe for bicyclists. An appropriate trade-off if it were the only choice, but it is not the only choice. There is no logical reason for this section of 24th Street to be four lanes. To the north, it is two lanes, to the south it is two lanes. So the obvious solution is to road-diet the street so that it is two lanes or two lanes plus a center turn lane, if necessary and appropriate. The rest of the road width can be used for wide bicycle lanes.