New SoMa pedes­trian crossing debuts on Walk to Work Day

Walk to Work Day began in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood with city officials celebrating a new traffic signal early Thursday morning.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin, Walk San Francisco and community leaders joined supervisor Jane Kim to turn on the mid-block traffic signal at Howard and Russ streets.

Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco, said Howard Street is part of The City’s high injury network where 70 percent of severe or fatal collisions occur on 12 percent of The City’s streets.

Before activating the traffic signal, Kim said:

“We know if we address the engineering, education and enforcement on 12 percent of the corridors, we can reduce injuries and fatalities by 70 percent.”

Rudy Corpuz Jr. who works with United Playaz, a youth crime prevention program, said the new traffic signal will keep youth and seniors safe. Corpuz said he used to live on Howard Street and compared crossing the street to an arcade game from the 1980s:

“Every day of my life me and the kids used to play Frogger walking across the street.”

The United Playaz office is just a few feet away from the new traffic signal.

After the activation of the traffic signal, officials and community leaders walked to City Hall to join other city supervisors and Mayor Mark Farrell for a press conference to officially kick off Walk to Work Day.

Farrell said:

“We need to make our roads safer. As mayor of this city, you have my commitment to do so.”

Last year, The City saw its lowest number of traffic death collisions since The City began keeping records in 1915, tallying 20 traffic deaths in 2017. The City in 2014 adopted the Vision Zero goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2024.

President of the Board of Supervisors London Breed said there was more work to do to improve the street’s infrastructure to make sure pedestrians are safe, especially for the senior population.

Breed referenced the death of 90-year old David Grinberg who died last October from being struck by vehicle at Fell and Baker street while crossing the pedestrian crosswalk:

“We have got to provide the kinds of improvements that will deal with the infrastructure necessary to make sure people bike David and others who have died unnecessarily do not do so in the future. ”

This is the sixth annual Walk to Work Day in The City.