Pedes­trian advocates rally for safety

CITY HALL — Advocates for pedestrian safety are calling on city leaders to step up their plans for improvements on San Francisco’s most dangerous intersections.

Family members and friends of those killed this year in traffic collisions held a memorial on the steps of City Hall Friday morning, chanting:

“Enough is enough. The time is now.”

Twenty-eight pairs of shoes including a pair of toddler shoes, were on the steps of City Hall representing the number of people killed in traffic collisions, said Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk San Francisco:

“We’ve had six people lose their life in traffic in the last two weeks alone. That is unacceptable.”

Advocates are calling on city officials to establish a crisis intervention team that would investigate the latest pedestrian collision within six months and to put forth improvements at that intersection.

They also want The City to increase enforcement and to better educate professional drivers operating in San Francisco.

The latest pedestrian fatality happened at Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street where Lori Helmer, a 51-year old San Francisco resident, was hit and killed by a Golden Gate Transit bus Thursday morning making a left turn. Helmer was the 18th pedestrian killed this year in The City.

Van Ness Avenue is one of the corridors in The City with a high number of pedestrian collisions.

Data from The City shows 60 percent of all severe or fatal injuries happen on six percent of San Francisco streets.

Schneider said now that The City has commitments from officials and funding from the recently-passed transportation measures in this week’s election to fund pedestrian safety projects, city leaders must act now to get the projects going:

“This not rocket science. Traffic safety is one of the best proven strategies for preventing deaths in the public health world. We can do this.”

Geen Lee, the son of Pui Fong Yim Lee, who was struck and killed by a vehicle on Stockton and Sacramento streets in September, said it has been difficult for him and his family who not only a lost mother, but also a grandmother:

“A law-abiding citizen, she was always a safety advocate. She constantly reminded her eight grandchildren and everyone around her about street safety and to never take chances.”

Lee said he is glad to see that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency did put up safety measures at that intersection last month where his mother was fatally struck, but said there are other dangerous intersections that need attention:

“Keep in mind, it is just one of the many locations known to be dangerous in San Francisco.”

Several city agencies including the Board of Supervisors have adopted Vision Zero, which calls for zero traffic deaths in 10 years.

The SFMTA is working to implement many of the safety improvements on those streets. SF Bay reported last month that eight have so far been completed with others still in the design, construction or pre development phase.

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said Vision Zero policy is just not for certain types of people, but for everyone:

“If you walk, take transit, take a bicycle or drive in the City, Vision Zero is for you.”