SAN FRANCISCO—Walk San Francisco, a community group for pedestrian safety, held a rally in front of San Francisco City Hall to call for safer streets in the city.

In 2018, there were 23 deadly crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists in San Francisco. So far in 2019, there have been a total of 15 crashes.

On Tuesday, July 23, Walk San Francisco along with community leaders, pedestrians, and members of the community gathered in front of city hall at 9:00 am. 

The rally transpired after Benjamin and Kelly Dean of Davis were killed in a crash in the Tenderloin District on Sunday, July 21. Benjamin was announced dead later at the hospital, while Kelly is still recovering from injuries she sustained accident. On July 18, just a few blocks from where Kelly and Benjamin Dean were injured, Michael Evans was hit while walking and dragged for blocks by a commercial big rig. He died later that day from injuries sustained. 

“Within four days, we have seen two pedestrians die in ways that are beyond the pale,” said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco. “The City needs to declare a state of emergency for traffic safety.”

Walk San Francisco called for better timing for traffic lights, lower speed limits, and crosswalks that will let pedestrians cross without having to worry about cross traffic. Another thing the group called for was better police enforcement when it comes to cars speeding and breaking other traffic laws.

“This is a crisis. People are dying on our streets. We need proactive and immediate traffic safety changes throughout the Tenderloin to save lives now,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents and lives in the neighborhood. “These are neighborhood streets. We aren’t a freeway. Our streets should be two-way, with narrow lanes, leading pedestrian intervals, pedestrian scrambles, and red light cameras to keep speeds low and people safe.”

Walk San Francisco indicated on its website that San Francisco should take additional actions to simultaneously address the state of emergency for traffic safety on the streets including:

  • Applying the same prosecutorial scrutiny to deaths from traffic violations as other deaths by violent means receive.
  • Immediate increased enforcement by the San Francisco Police Department to reach its target of issuing 50% of traffic citations to the five most common causes of collisions and injuries. (SFPD are not yet meeting this goal; in FY 2017-2018 the SFPD was at 44%.)
  • Immediate action to bring speed safety cameras to San Francisco. (For comparison, New York City will have 750 speed cameras installed at school zones by this time next year.)
  • Immediate action to bring lower speed limits to all San Francisco streets. We think that 20 is plenty on all residential streets, which would include most streets in the Tenderloin. The speed limits on commercial streets should also be looked at, considering many are designated high-injury and have very high numbers of people walking and biking on them.
  • An analysis of all severe and fatal traffic crashes in the past five years to identify root causes and recommendations for preventative actions.
  • Installing additional red light cameras at many more major high-injury intersections(there are currently only 13).
  • Designing all safety projects on the high-injury network to reach the highest possible standards, prioritizing people over vehicles.

Written By Kayla Lupoli and Donald Roberts