District 7, one of San Francisco’s most suburban in character, has seen three of this year’s six pedestrian deaths so far. At a hearing yesterday called by D7 Supervisor Norman Yee as his first order of business after taking office in January, residents called upon city agencies to slow drivers on dangerous high-speed streets that cut through neighborhoods like West Portal, Parkside, Sunnyside, and Forest Hill.
The district’s three pedestrian deaths within the last two months each took place on streets known to be dangerous for walking. On February 19, 72-year-old Eileen Barrett was killed by a Muni driver on Lake Merced Boulevard and John Muir Drive. On March 4, Hanren Chang, a 17-year-old Lowell High School student, was run down by an allegedly drunk driver on her birthday on Sloat Boulevard at Forest View Drive in a crosswalk, less than a block from her house. On March 21, 68-year-old Tania Madfes, a retired teacher, was crossing West Portal Avenue at Vicente Street with her husband when a driver ran them down. Madfes died from her injuries a week later.
Most of the district’s pedestrian crashes take place on streets designed for drivers to speed, like Sloat, O’Shaughnessy Boulevard, and 19th Avenue, according to the SF Municipal Transportation Agency. Residents said even in crosswalks where the agency has added treatments like more visible crosswalk markings and signs that instruct drivers to yield to pedestrians, they don’t.
Anyan Cheng, who was a close friend of Chang’s, said she did a one-hour study this week of a pedestrian crossing on Sloat, the speedway where Chang was killed. Even as elderly residents tried to traverse the roadway, she said, “not one car stopped.”
“On Sloat, on 19th Avenue, on Ocean, on Monterey, we need to fix our streets to tame speeds, calm traffic, and prevent more tragedies,” said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk SF.
While District 7 carries a generally proportionate share of pedestrian injuries, those injuries are more likely to be fatal, said SFMTA traffic engineer Ricardo Olea. Of the estimated two to three pedestrians injured every day in San Francisco, District 7 sees 8 percent, but 16 percent of the city’s pedestrian fatalities occur there.