Traffic deaths stain traffic safety event

Mere blocks and hours from the latest traffic deaths in San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee and city officials highlighted improvements to pedestrian safety in the Richmond District.

San Francisco resident Alfred Yee, 87, was fatally struck by a vehicle on Geary Boulevard and 26th Avenue Wednesday morning while in the crosswalk, said police officials. The vehicle was making a left turn from 26th Avenue onto Geary.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin started his remarks by mentioning Yee’s death and a report of motorcyclist fatally hit by a vehicle on 15th Avenue and Lincoln Way earlier in the morning:

“It’s tragic that people are losing their lives on our streets.”

Supervisor Eric Mar, who represents the Richmond District, said many dangerous intersections in his district have been known for years, including where Yee was hit, and at Geary and Arguello, where an 87-year-old woman was fatally struck by a vehicle in 2011:

“How long will it take for us to take much more rapid action with Vision Zero so we can prevent these unfortunate and as Mr. Reiskin said they’re not accidents, but they’re killings.”

Pedestrian safety improvements are moving ahead in the Richmond District and throughout The City, including a traffic light at the intersection of Geary Boulevard and Palm Avenue in front of the Institute on Aging Senior Campus. The speed limit on Fulton Street has also been lowered from 35 mph to 30 mph.

Mar, who has been vocal about lowering the speed limit in The City, said lowering the speed limit can reduce the seriousness of a vehicle collision with a pedestrian:

“Even slowing down 5 mph, you can quantify how many lives it saves.”

All recent pedestrian and bike improvements are part of the city’s Vision Zero policy to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.

Reiskin said there are many physical improvements happening on the streets. He said the transit agency has completed 12 projects at high-injury pedestrian and bicyclist corridors with another 12 on the way.

Mayor Ed Lee said at the press conference that while The City is working quickly as possible on some of the more complicated pedestrian projects, many of the easier treatments like zebra-striped crosswalks are getting done now.

Thirty-three crosswalks on Geary Boulevard have already been upgraded to the zebra-striped crosswalks, which help improve pedestrian visibility, according to the SFMTA.

Lee also said he and city officials from the SFMTA and police department will look at which streets the city has jurisdiction over to lower the speed limit.

The SFMTA said it has already lowered the speed limit on 13 streets citywide including Sunset Boulevard, Howard Street, Broadway Tunnel and John Muir Drive.