Jodie Medeiros, who this week became the new Executive Director of Walk San Francisco, will never forget the moment she became a safe-streets advocate. "I was at the corner of Valencia and Duboce. I was on a sidewalk waiting to cross the street," she told Streetsblog in a phone interview this morning. The light turned green for Medeiros. Just before she stepped off the curb, a cyclist entered the intersection, going in the same direction, and a van ran the red light and "hit the woman, dragging her under the car." The woman was loaded into an ambulance with injuries that, fortunately, did not seem life threatening. But that event from over ten years ago "catapulted me to work for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition."
Just prior to joining Walk SF, Medeiros was Deputy Director at the SF Housing Action Coalition, where she worked on passing Home SF, a policy to incentivize building more affordable and family-friendly housing in the city. Before that she was Development Director at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, where, during her eight-year tenure, she helped grow the organization from a staff of four to seventeen. She also worked on the 'Great Streets Project,' which led to Sunday Streets and the now-thriving parklet program.
Medeiros will have her work with Walk SF cut out for her. She's already been involved in Walk SF's campaign to ban delivery robots from sidewalks. "It’s a tricky situation, because Walk SF is not against innovation--that is not what this is about. It's about a growing city with very little space for pedestrians and needing to protect that space in a thoughtful way." And, of course, her main focus will be on Vision Zero, and finally reducing the number of people--it's stubbornly stayed at about thirty per year--who are killed in collisions in San Francisco. "We do have to get better; pedestrians fatalities are not acceptable."
Medeiros said she is looking forward to getting to work on safe streets again, always motivated by the memory of that awful collision she witnessed years ago. She said she's remained acutely aware that if she had stepped off the curb, she also would have been hit by that red-light-running van. "That was a pretty poignant moment in my life where I was like: we need to do better--we need to make sure that pedestrians are safe on our streets just trying to get from point A to point B."
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