Bike Coalition Honors Vision Zero Heroes

Advocates renew commitment to safe streets at last night's annual Golden Wheel Awards

SF Bike Coalition's Brian Wiedenmeier emceed the event. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated
SF Bike Coalition's Brian Wiedenmeier emceed the event. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition presented Golden Wheel Awards yesterday evening to Leah Shahum, founder, and director of the Vision Zero Network, and Julie Mitchell, who co-founded the organization San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets.

Shahum, in her acceptance speech, spoke of the clear moral choice to street design. “When you have a situation where you design a street for maximum safety or maximum speed, there is a right and a wrong way,” she told the audience of some 300 planners, advocates and other city officials who were at the event last night at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, across from City Hall.

“Five years ago our 21-year-old son Dylan left our home and never returned,” said Mitchell in her speech. He was run over and killed in a collision with a garbage truck on 16th Street in the Mission. “If there had been a protected bike lane, he would be alive today.”

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Julie Mitchell with her husband at the Golden Wheel Awards

Mitchell talked about the efforts of her organization, the Bicycle Coalition, and Walk San Francisco, in pushing for Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras. “We will not give up.” As previously reported, a bill to bring ASE to San Francisco was defeated last year, but, according to advocates at the event, it will be re-introduced in January.

“I am in awe of your bravery,” said SFBC’s director Brian Wiedenmeier. “We are going to win on ASE.”

“We’ve been led to believe that the loss of safety on our streets is an unavoidable side-effect of living in a civilized society,” said Shahum. “That’s why 30 communities have stepped up to say ‘no,’ that’s not okay, enough is enough.” Shahum was referring to the 30 cities in the country that have pledged support for Vision Zero, the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities on our streets. “This is way more than a slogan.”

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Walk SF’s Cathy DeLuca, Leah Shahum, and Bay Area Families for Safe Street’s Alvin Lester

Shahum was encouraged by the recent decision by the City of London to reduce speed limits to 20 mph–a speed at which nearly all pedestrians should survive if struck by a car. “Let’s make sure Mayor Breed knows about this great example,” she said. “Perhaps San Francisco can be the first American city to adopt 20 mph?”

Wiedenmeier, meanwhile, called on Uber and Lyft to do more to keep their cars from blocking bike lanes. “Expand geo-fencing… use telemetry data to kick drivers off your platform who consistently speed and break the law.” He also demanded they share traffic data with cities to help improve safety on streets.

“We can reach the future city where no one dies on our streets in collisions,” he added.

For more on the awardees, check out the SFBC’s post.

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Brian Wiedenmeier with Bay Area Families for Safe Streets
The reception after the awards
The reception after the awards
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BART Board Director and Supervisorial candidate Nick Josefowitz (LT) and SFBC Community Organizer Charles Deffarges (RT) at the Golden Wheel reception.

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