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As S.F. Transportation Officials Back Street Safety, Another Pedestrian Dies

| February 4, 2014
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Pedestrians in downtown San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Pedestrians in downtown San Francisco. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On a day that saw yet another pedestrian struck by a car and killed in San Francisco, city transit officials vowed action on a plan that aims to end such fatalities within a decade.

Officer Albie Esparza, a San Francisco Police Department spokesman, said Tuesday’s fatal accident involved an unidentified man who was struck by a car and killed as he crossed a busy street in the city’s Sunset district. The man was walking west across Sunset Boulevard near Yorba Street just before 11 a.m. when he was hit by a southbound Toyota Corolla, Esparza said.

The man went through the car’s windshield and was pronounced dead at the scene. Three women who were inside the car were injured and taken to a hospital. Their injuries are not considered life-threatening, Esparza said.

Tuesday’s victim was the second pedestrian killed by a driver in San Francisco this year and the eighth since Dec. 1. The spike in fatalities has prompted calls for quick action to make the streets safer, an issue that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board addressed at its meeting early Tuesday afternoon.

The board passed a resolution that calls for both short-term and long-term action to reduce the pedestrian toll. The plan involves a two-year program to improve safety at the city’s 24 most dangerous intersections. The resolution also expressed support for “Vision Zero,” a long-term strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities of all kinds by 2014.

City officials say Vision Zero would build on current city safety initiatives. The San Francisco Chronicle recently gave a broad outline of those efforts:

In 2010, Mayor Gavin Newsom issued an executive directive that called for slashing the number of severe and fatal injuries in half by 2021, and Mayor Ed Lee has followed up, devoting $17 million over the next five years to various pedestrian safety improvements. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has received a $3 million grant to improve traffic signaling.

Nicole Schneider, executive director of pedestrian advocate Walk San Francisco, said she welcome the SFMTA resolution but says the city’s safety plans aren’t yet backed up by funding.

“We need more money for pedestrian safety,” Schneider said. “We need more staffing, and we need these projects to get on the ground quickly. Otherwise I’m afraid that Vision Zero is going to remain a vision and not become reality.”

Mayor Lee hopes to put three transportation funding measures on the November ballot to fund the city’s pedestrian strategy.

Those who live near the Sunset Boulevard intersection where Tuesday morning’s fatal collision occurred said pedestrian safety there is a longtime problem.

Dick Morton and his daughter, Ailin, live nearby and told Bay City News that the six-lane thoroughfare is dangerous for pedestrians because of the lack of traffic lights at each intersection.

“People can pick up quite a bit of speed,” Dick Morton said.

He said pedestrian warning lights at Yorba Street haven’t helped much. “You better be wide awake and fleet of foot” when crossing the street, he said.

This post contains reporting by KQED’s Bryan Goebel and Bay City News.

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.
  • Al Cinamon

    It’s all BS. Why not hold drivers accountable for their irresponsibility? If it’s grounds of failure to hit a pedestrian during a road test, why is it okay to hit them once you have the license?

  • http://district5diary.blogspot.com/ Rob Anderson

    Exactly how dangerous city streets are is unclear, since the city’s method of counting injury accidents is seriously flawed. That’s what a UC study found when it compared cycling accidents in police reports to those treated at the city’s primary trauma center, SF General Hospital: “From 2000 to 2009, 54.5% of bicycle injuries treated at SFGH were not associated with a police report, revealing that bicycle crashes and injuries are under-recognized in San Francisco.”

    After looking at the numbers in the complete report, I calculated that 1,377 injury accidents to cyclists were uncounted between 2000 and 2009.

    That is, the city has been relying on police reports to count accidents, ignoring accidents treated at SF General. The question is, If the city is under-counting cycling accidents, is it also under-counting pedestrian accidents and motor vehicle accidents?

    Still waiting for the MTA’s long overdue annual Collision Report for the answer to that question.

  • sfparkripoff

    Many pedestrians hit by cars are self distracted, most likely looking at their smartphone instead of paying attention.

    Sourced from Liberty Mutual Insurance Company:

    51% of pedestrians talk on the phone while crossing the street
    26% of pedestrians text or email while crossing the street
    34% of pedestrians listen to music while crossing the street
    60% of pedestrians use a smartphone while crossing the street

    Heres another fun fact. City Hall is now providing free WIFI on Market
    Street. Now we will have more people watching videos and checking their
    email when they should be looking both ways as they cross streets and
    exit public transit vehicles.

    How does that work with San Francisco’s Vision Zero policy to eliminate pedestrian and bicycle related traffic deaths? Lets take a minute to thank Mayor Ed Lee and San Francisco Board of Supervisors for contradicting their own pedestrian safety policies.

    *CLAP* *CLAP* * CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAP* *CLAP*

    • leftoversright

      That is a brilliant piece of reporting and video, thank you.

  • leftoversright

    It took the SFMTA forever to address the pedestrian/vehicle problem at Sloat and 19th Ave.. At Yorba and Sunset, one of the most insidious intersection in the city; they put up a flashing YELLOW that has to be engaged by the pedestrian. Really? How does this help? If the pedestrian pushes the button that means a pedestrian is crossing the intersection, shouldn’t the light be RED? Years ago I attended traffic hearings and why they hold these I have no idea. All suggestions were shot down and explained that we had no idea of how traffic works! One of my suggestions that was dismissed because of my lack of knowledge was implemented a few years later when a child was hit and now suffers from severe brain trauma. Since we live in the neighborhoods I think we have a better idea of what is not working.