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Pedestrian Safety

New Year’s Crash Stark Reminder of Work Yet to be Done

One of the victims of Monday’s crash (the photographer asked us to withhold his name).

Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content.

A box-truck collided with a car on Monday afternoon, causing a multi-vehicle crash, at the intersection of Geary and 21st in the Richmond District of San Francisco. Two seniors on foot were swept up in the wreck and are currently in the hospital. One of them sustained critical injuries.

Sandy Hui, who works at Sakana Bune Japanese restaurant at the corner of 21st and Geary, witnessed the crash and its aftermath. "The truck hopped onto the sidewalk," she said, adding that it had seemed to be attempting to make a turn when it started fishtailing, crashed into a car, and ended up careening off the sidewalk. Affiliate KTVU is reporting that the truck was heading south on 21st and tried to turn onto Geary at a high rate of speed, before losing control and crashing.

It was an inauspicious start to a new year and one in which advocates hoped to celebrate the first signs of progress in making our streets safer.

Photo: Sandy Hui
A witness, who asked us to withhold photo credit, took this and the lead photo immediately after the crash.
Photo: Sandy Hui

"For the first time since San Francisco adopted Vision Zero, we have seen a significant decrease in traffic deaths. Twenty people were killed in crashes in 2017, compared to 30 in 2016,' said Walk San Francisco's Cathy DeLuca. "While it's hard to know the exact cause, we do know that the City has put substantial work into improving the safety of city streets. We also know that more is needed." (It's important to remember that San Francisco is an outlier in a larger urban region where streets continue to claim more lives).

The intersection of Geary and 21st with long crossings, fast-moving traffic, and no refuge islands. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

"Monday's crash that left a senior in critical condition must become a thing of the past," added DeLuca.

Improvements to transit and some crossing upgrades are coming to Geary through the Geary Rapid project. However, at least going by the design renderings, there isn't the type of robust pedestrian protection going in that might have stopped or at least reduced yesterday's carnage. Streetsblog can only hope SFMTA will consider adding the kind of solid barrier they use in New York and elsewhere so that a speeding motorist who is attempting to take a turn too fast will be stopped by a concrete barrier before hitting a person. This is especially important in an area frequented by seniors, who need extra time to cross (the Jackie Chan Senior Center is two blocks west on Geary from where the wreck occurred, and the Richmond Senior Center is a couple of blocks more).

UPDATE: SFMTA officials have notified Streetsblog that designs have been updated since the renderings (linked to above) were produced. They say bulb-outs, refuge islands, lane reductions, and better sight lines will make crossing locations safer along the corridor.  "91 new pedestrian bulbs would be installed across the corridor at locations identified based on where pedestrian injury rates are high," wrote a spokesman for SFMTA, in an email to Streetsblog. For more information, access the SFMTA web site for the Geary Boulevard Improvement Project and this rendering of a typical intersection design.

Either way, yesterday's tragedy is stark reminder that more has to be done in 2018 to stop speeding, slow traffic, and get our street safety issues under control. Automated Speed Enforcement has to be passed. Safety measures have to go in, unimpeded by city bureaucracies. And law enforcement has to crack down on scofflaws who routinely violate safety measures.

Hui, meanwhile, often stands on the corner where the truck came onto the sidewalk and realizes she could have been a victim in yesterday's crash. "People just drive too fast."

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