Friends and family mourning the death of Hanren Chang, a 17-year-old Lowell High School student who was killed on Sloat Boulevard last Saturday night by driver 29-year-old Kieran Brewer, are calling for safety fixes to prevent future deaths on the excessively-wide speedway. Brewer was arraigned yesterday on felony charges of DUI and felony vehicular manslaughter.
Some safety improvements are already in the works for three intersections on Sloat, including the one where Chang was killed — but they’re not scheduled to be implemented for at least another 18 months, according to a memo from the SF County Transportation Authority [PDF]. The Board of Supervisors coincidentally approved a $797,000 federal grant on Tuesday to plan and construct sidewalk bulb-outs and flashing pedestrian beacons, and adjourned the meeting in honor of Chang. But as the SF Chronicle reported today, the plan is only set to be designed by the end of the next fiscal year — June 2014 — and built within a year after that.
Caltrans, which has jurisdiction over state Highway 35 (which includes Sloat), did implement a road diet in January 2012 on the stretch where Chang was killed, converting two lanes to buffered bike lanes and installing more visible crosswalk designs and signage.
But Sloat, where drivers are invited to speed on an excessively wide roadway, remains a deadly place for pedestrians, as Anyan Cheng, a close friend of Chang’s who launched a petition for safety improvements, told the Chronicle. ”It’s like a freeway in a residential area,” she said. “People don’t stop for you. Drivers don’t see you.”
As Streetsblog has reported, 54-year-old Feng Lian Zhu was killed by a driver in January 2010 on Sloat near Forest View Drive — the same intersection where Chang was killed. In 2011, 33 traffic crashes occurred at Sloat intersections, according to police data. In those crashes, two pedestrians were injured at Everglade Drive and 44th Avenue, and two bicycle riders were injured at 19th Avenue, also a state highway.