Another Fortnight, Another Death

The carnage continues, especially in the Tenderloin, while Vision Zero goals elude

Walk San Francisco's Marta Lindsey reads the names of the dead at Monday night's vigil in the Tenderloin. All pics Streetsblog/Rudick
Walk San Francisco's Marta Lindsey reads the names of the dead at Monday night's vigil in the Tenderloin. All pics Streetsblog/Rudick

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.

Saturday night a man crossing the street was killed by a Golden Gate Transit driver who was turning his bus at the corner of Hyde and Golden Gate. “We lost a 66-year-old man after he was hit here,” said Walk San Francisco’s Marta Lindsey, during a vigil held on the same corner Monday evening. “That man is the tenth person killed while walking or biking this year already.”

She paused for a moment to let the horror sink in. “Let me say that again. Tenth person.”

It’s unclear exactly what happened, although the San Francisco Examiner reports that the collision occurred around 7:30 and they quote a Golden Gate Transit spokeswoman saying that the decedent “hit his head on the bus and then on the ground.” A survey done by Streetsblog discovered a security camera overlooking the intersection, so it seems likely police investigators have video of the crash.

But one thing is clear: street conditions on this corner, and throughout the Tenderloin, are certainly a factor.

Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the district and attended the vigil, tweeted this the morning after the crash:

Haney is referring to the “scramble” intersection of Golden Gate and Leavenworth, where pedestrians have their own signal phase–cars are banned from turning during that phase. While it segregates cars from crossing pedestrians, it’s not a true scramble, at least in the traditional sense, because there are no diagonal crosswalks. Streetsblog has an inquiry out to SFMTA to find out if their intent is to add them later.

Meanwhile, Cole Brennan, also with Walk S.F., is critical of what she sees as weak safety treatments at Hyde and Golden Gate. Only one corner has a bulbout, and it doesn’t jut out enough to truly slow turning cars (as those who attended the vigil witnessed as right-turning cars whipped past). In addition, the khaki zone on Hyde (a no-parking area to preserve sight-lines for turning motorist and pedestrians) “…doesn’t extend to the corner.” It’s also protected only by lightweight “safe hit” posts that won’t damage a car that runs into them and therefore do nothing to stop a determined scofflaw motorist.

Names of victims and questions were displayed on a string during the vigil
Names of victims and questions were displayed on a string during the vigil

Brennan added that that the Tenderloin’s one-way streets need to be converted to two-way. And that space needs to be turned back over to pedestrians. “I counted 30 people midday crossing here,” she said of the intersection where the man was killed. “But only 15 cars per cycle.” And yet, sidewalks are narrow and crowded while the vast majority of the space, some 50 feet in places, is dedicated to motorists.

“How many more people have to die–there are three lanes up and down, like a freeway,” said Curtis Bradford, a local advocate who attended the vigil. “This is a residential neighborhood!”

Every single intersection in the Tenderloin is part of the ‘high injury network,'” said Lindsey. “Yet the city continues to be re-active rather than pro-active… we have three people hit every day in San Francisco.”

The protesters also painted “ghost feet” on the pavement where the man, who is still not identified, was killed [UPDATE: The Examiner is reporting the victim’s name was Mark Swink].

IMG_20190513_173801
Protesters at last night’s vigil painting “ghost feet” where a man was run down by a bus Saturday evening

With a death every two weeks on average this year, the city is backsliding severely on its Vision Zero goals. At the protest, Lindsey read out the names of the ten killed walking or biking this year: “Lucy Morales. Nancy Ng. Zhao Guan. Jose Manuel. Haros Carrasco. Janice Higashi. Madlen Koteva. Pablo Ramirez. Galina Alterman. Tess Rothstein. And of course the man who was hit here.”

Note: tomorrow/Wednesday is the annual ‘Ride of Silence’ to commemorate cyclists killed in San Francisco, 5:30-8:30 p.m., starting at the Sports Basement, 1590 Bryant Street

  • crazyvag

    Let’s finally make list of all the crossing that still lack bulbouts, and commit to finishing it off over next 10 years. Once we agree to do that, then let’s talk as to how fast we want to work down the list.

  • pedestrianist

    Thank you for this great writeup!

  • Roger R.

    And thanks for the nudge back on course.

  • p_chazz

    According to what I read, the unfortunate man fell backwards and hit his head on the bus. Did he perhaps have a medical emergency, such as a stroke or heart attack, lose his footing, or perhaps was impaired by alcohol or drugs? I would like to find out more about what happened before I get all het up about poor infrastructure,

  • Or perhaps there’s no witness and the police are taking the driver for their word like they usually do. Falling backwards? That sound awfully suspicious. Given GGT’s notorious reputation for reckless driving in SF, I’m highly dubious of any claims made by their driver of alleged erratic behavior from a victim they just killed.

  • p_chazz

    My brother was an epileptic and unsteady on his feet. One evening when he was out for a walk with his wife, he fell backwards. We think he may have had a seizure, but his wife didn’t see him fall. The fall broke the tip of his spine which lodged in his brain. His wife called 911. Despite heroic efforts by emergency medical technicians, he never regained consciousness and was taken of life support at the hospital, so yeah, people do fall backwards and die.

  • I’m sorry that happened to your brother Chazz. That’s awful. Tragedies do happen. But because I’ve witnessed so many GGT buses drive like race cars and I’ve read more news articles about GGT bus collisions in SF then I do Muni, I’m a bit skeptical about the driver’s version of this story. I hope security camera footage is recovered so that there can be no doubt what happened. I also hope they’re able to make changes so this doesn’t happen again.

    Buses making turns through a crosswalk should trigger a special traffic signal phase so that there aren’t any pedestrians in harms way. It’s very possible for a turning bus to crush a pedestrian without the driver or pedestrian ever seeing each other.

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