Deadly left turn highlights Market Street pedestrian risk

Advocates are calling on changes on Market Street to make the streets safer for pedestrians after one pedestrian was fatally hit by a vehicle making a left turn last month.

Thu Phan, 38, was crossing the intersection of Market and Seventh streets in her wheelchair when she was fatally hit by a vehicle making a left turn on Feb. 5. Days after the collision, it was reported a City-owned vehicle struck and killed Phan.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said it is making the streets safer for pedestrians with completing 30 projects so far as part of the Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024.

Ed Reiskin, the SFMTA’s director of transportation, gave condolences on behalf of the transit agency during his director’s report at Tuesday’s Board of Directors meeting:

“It was, like every tragedy, serious or fatal pedestrian collision, it was tragic and it was preventable.”

Nicole Ferrara of WalkSF, an advocacy group, agreed with Reiskin that the collision was preventable. She did commend the SFMTA for its work on completing 30 pedestrian safety projects, but said the transit agency needs to do more:

“And now what we need to do is challenge you to move faster and really think how we can push the boundaries.”

Ferrara said the left turn intersection where a vehicle struck Phan allowed for many vehicle exemptions.

The Examiner reported the city-owned vehicle was one of several exemptions allowed to make the left turn, but Ferrara said that needs to change:

“We shouldn’t be exempting all these different types of vehicles, We should really be looking at the core vehicles that need to turn and we should really reconsider the commercial vehicle exemption.”

She also said signs were hard to read and that clear signage was needed on who can make the left turn:

“It’s not a comprehensive test.”

Holly Michna, Phan’s sister, also gave public comment during the meeting. She said she hears about people being hit by vehicles, but never imagined it could happen her loved ones:

“We were in the hospital. We saw how fast she deteriorated.”

Michna said her sister went into emergency surgery and never woke up:

“It’s one of the probably of most painful things our family has ever done, letting her go.”

Advocates earlier on Tuesday before the meeting held a memorial at the intersection where Phan was hit. The board will later review Market Street safety improvements as requested by Director Cristina Rubke.

New signage on which vehicles can make the left turn was also being put up on Tuesday.

The SFMTA board adjourned its Tuesday meeting in memory of Phan.