Walk San Francisco Holds Emergency Rally to Demand Safe Streets

After two more traffic deaths in the Tenderloin, advocates demand action

Walk SF's Jodie Medeiros addressing this morning's rally at City Hall. Photo: Walk SF/
Marta Lindsey
Walk SF's Jodie Medeiros addressing this morning's rally at City Hall. Photo: Walk SF/ Marta Lindsey

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In response to a death last week and another over the weekend on the notoriously dangerous streets of the Tenderloin, Walk San Francisco held a rally Tuesday morning to demand that the city take emergency measures to provide safe streets.

“We’re here today because fourteen people have died while walking and biking in our city already this year. Fourteen people!” said Walk San Francisco’s Jodie Medeiros, in an address to the crowd and media at the steps of San Francisco City Hall. “And we lost two of those people in just the past five days, in horrific crashes.”

“The city needs to declare a state of emergency for traffic safety,” she added in a prepared statement.

Last Thursday, Michael Evans was hit while walking at Mason and Eddy and dragged for blocks by a commercial big rig. He died that day. On Sunday, at Taylor Street and O’Farrell, Benjamin Dean was killed by the driver of a Tesla. His wife, Kelly Dean, was critically injured.

“This is a crisis. People are dying on our streets. We need proactive and immediate traffic safety changes throughout the Tenderloin to save lives now,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the district, also in a prepared statement. “These are neighborhood streets. We aren’t a freeway. Our streets should be two-way, with narrow lanes, leading pedestrian intervals, pedestrian scrambles, and red light cameras to keep speeds low and people safe.”

Other speakers at the rally included State Senator Scott Wiener, Interim SFMTA Director Tom Maguire, and Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director of the SF Bicycle Coalition.

“I’m tired of standing up here. What we need is change,” said Wiedenmeier.

Advocates are demanding that the city immediately begin:

  • Applying the same prosecutorial scrutiny to deaths from traffic violations that it does to other deaths by violent means.
  • Increased enforcement by the San Francisco Police Department to reach its target of issuing fifty percent of traffic citations to the five most common causes of collisions and injuries. (SFPD are not yet meeting this goal; in FY 2017-2018 the citations reached 44 percent.)
  • Bringing speed safety cameras to San Francisco. (For comparison, New York City will have 750 speed cameras installed at school zones by this time next year.)
  • Lowering speed limits on all San Francisco streets. We think that “20 is plenty” on all residential streets, which would include most streets in the Tenderloin. The speed limits on commercial streets should also be revisited, considering many are designated as high-injury corridors and have very high numbers of people walking and biking on them.
  • Analyzing all severe and fatal traffic crashes in the past five years to identify root causes and recommendations for preventative actions.
  • Installing additional red light cameras at many more major high-injury intersections.
  • Designing all safety projects on the high-injury network to reach the highest possible standards, prioritizing people over vehicles.

After a reduction in traffic fatalities and serious injuries in 2017, to 20 deaths, the macabre count has crept steadily back up. In 2018 there were 23 fatalities. 2019’s 14 fatalities–with five months to go–is on track to beat those numbers.

“Our city can and must do a lot better, starting right now, to protect all of us,” said Medeiros.

  • crazyvag

    How about Leading Pedestrian Interval at all crosswalks in next 5 years at all crosswalks?

  • Steep Ravine

    It’s a shame we can’t simply self-regulate and slow down. 20 mph citywide. Even slower downtown, in the Tenderloin and other places with high pedestrian traffic, say 10 mph.

  • Jame

    So many streets are not designed to be conducive to slowness.

  • Jame

    Is there a count for the number of serious injuries as well? We have 14 deaths, but surely dozens of serious and critical injuries that get lost in the shuffle.

  • sf in sf

    I really like how the traffic lights along Valencia and Folsom are timed for 13 mph in the Mission. The goal is to give people on bikes a green wave, but it has a side benefit: When drivers speed, they discover they just hit a red light every block.

  • Marianne Karth

    I lost my daughters, AnnaLeah (17) and Mary (13), when our car went under a truck on May 4, 2013. I have been working since then to make truck crashes more survivable.

    Are you aware that the STOP Underrides Bill requires that comprehensive underride protection (front, side, rear) be put on all large trucks — including every Single Unit Truck (box trucks, straight trucks)? This will protect Vulnerable Road Users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists) as well as occupants of passenger vehicles.

    Please help us to get this bill passed. Sign our petition: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/104/712/045/congress-act-now-to-end-deadly-truck-underride/

    Then call your U.S. legislators, 202-224-3121. Tell them that you want them to cosponsor the STOP Underrides Bill: S.665 & HR.1511.

    For more information, visit our website: https://annaleahmary.com/

  • p_chazz

    To that list I would add reducing the number of one way streets in densely populated areas.

  • Dave

    Police need to be ordered to enforce driving laws more heavily and evenly. Hell, give them a quota of wealthy white drivers to write tickets on–and a pair of Vise Grips modified to act as cell phone crushers. What is needed is creating an oppressive legal climate for motor vehicle operators. We should aim for a cowed, intimidated driving population whose primary feeling behind the wheel is fear of police and who compulsively stay 5 mph below posted speed limits and keep phones in the trunk of their cars like open bottles of liquor.

  • Dave

    Nice idea–should be widely copied.

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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. Sunday afternoon nearly 100 survivors and families and friends of those killed or hurt in traffic violence marched to the steps of San Francisco […]