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Walk SF Takes Stock of a Year of Progress Towards Safe Streets

Survivors and victims of road violence talked about “Families for Safe Streets,” an affiliate group of Walk SF, launched in part by Julie Mitchell, seen speaking here. Photo: Streetsblog

Yesterday evening, Walk San Francisco held its holiday "Woonerven" party at SPUR's Urban Center on Mission Street in downtown San Francisco. Woonerven is a Dutch word that translates to "living yard" or "residential grounds," referring to streets that are intended for multiple uses. On a Woonerven street, all are welcome, and cars are limited to  "walking speed," explained Nicole Ferrara, Walk SF's executive director, to the crowd.

More than a party, the event was a chance for Walk SF to look back at its accomplishments for the year, talk about planning for 2017, and remind themselves of the importance of making streets safe and livable, especially in the midst of the holiday season. "This is a difficult time of the year," said Julie Mitchell, whose son Dylan was killed by an inattentive truck driver three years ago "Dylan was born on Christmas Day."

Walk SF took donations and held a raffle. They also handed out copies of their annual report, entitled "Street Score 2016."  Ferrara gave a presentation, and talked about how far the group has come--and how far it has to go.

A graphic from Walk SF's annual report shows progress. Image: Walk SF
A graphic from Walk SF's annual report. Image: Walk SF

The report says Walk SF will continue to strive in five distinct areas: equity, proven approaches, robust projects and treatments, identifying obstacles for safe streets, and encouraging walking and place-making projects. One of those obstacles is a state law that prohibits the use of Automatic Speed Enforcement cameras (ASE) in California. For next year, Ferrara made it clear the campaign to get Sacramento to allow ASE will be a central focus.

In the end, the precise, data-driven goals of Walk SF come back to the human cost of excessively wide streets that encourage dangerous speeding and deter walking and cycling. This basic sentiment was well expressed by a Walk SF-produced short film, There’s Always a Way, by filmmaker Darryl Jones. It debuted at the party and is now available online. This sentimental, animated short really sums up what the livable streets movement, at its core, is all about. Be sure to check it out. And sign Walk SF's petition in support of safe streets for seniors.

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