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Friday, November 7, 2014

New Wave of Pedestrian Deaths Prompts Serious Call for Action

Posted By on Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 3:54 PM

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The recent bout of pedestrian deaths and injuries has reignited calls for the city to actually do something about making the streets safer. 

On Friday, WalkSF and families of loved ones killed in traffic collisions, gathered at the City Hall, where they lined the steps of the building with 28 pairs of empty shoes, representing the 28 lives that have been lost to traffic crashes.

It was an eerie event, but one that community members hope will resonate with city officials in charge of pedestrian-safety projects. 

“The City cannot afford to keep up a ‘business as usual’ attitude as the number of tragedies grows on our streets; far too many people have been needlessly killed in preventable crashes, especially among seniors, low-income communities and communities of color,” says Nicole Schneider of Walk San Francisco.

She noted that despite city leaders’ commitment to Vision Zero, the mayor's plan to eliminate pedestrian deaths to zero within 10 years, safety projects don't seem to be getting the attention and money they need. 

"Critical on-street safety projects along the City’s high-injury corridors remain stalled; enforcement goals to target the most dangerous traffic behaviors are unmet; and education of professional drivers lack necessary mandates,” she says. 

Money should be no longer be an excuse. Just this week, San Francisco voters passed Propositions A and B, which specifically focus on Vision Zero street improvements. 

Twenty-eight people have died on San Francisco streets this year, including six in the last two weeks. Nearly all of these deaths have occurred on the city's most dangerous intersections. Roughly 60 percent of severe and fatal pedestrian crashes occur along these intersections. 

The issue hit home for City Hall when Priscila Moreto, a senior accountant in the City's Controller Office, was struck and killed by a tourist bus as she walked through a crosswalk at City Hall. Sadly, she was just walking back from a pedestrian safety event she had attended with Mayor Ed Lee when she was hit.

Yesterday, Lori Helmer was killed while jogging through the Russian Hill District. A Golden Gate Transit bus ran over her as it turned down Lombard Street. 

Per the Vision Zero Coalition:
While the City has made plans to improve some of these streets, projects have languished without sufficient urgency, or taken far too long to construct, endangering too many people, particularly seniors, who made up over half of the pedestrians who died this year and other vulnerable road users, from San Francisco’s most underserved neighborhoods — including SOMA, the Tenderloin, and Chinatown.
So here's what the Vision Zero Coalition wants to happen now:
  • Implement safety improvements along the most dangerous streets citywide, including reducing fast-moving traffic on the known dangerous streets, eliminating high injury corridors through the City’s WalkFirst strategy, and building physically protected bikeways;

  • Establish a Crisis Intervention Team to investigate and respond within six months to severe and fatal crashes in San Francisco with on-street safety improvements;

  • Increase enforcement and education measures for professional drivers operating in San Francisco’s complex urban environment. 
And they're not willing to wait until after another pedestrian is hurt or killed on San Francisco streets. 


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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Bio:
Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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