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Motorist Threatens to Run Over Families on Slow Lake Street

Slow Lake in 2022, before “no through traffic” signs were removed by SFMTA. Photo:
Emily Huston

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 motorist threatened to run people over at an event in San Francisco's Richmond District on Sunday as tensions rise over the Slow Streets movement.

Luke Bornheimer, a lead organizer with Kid Safe SF, posted this video of the incident:

At 35 seconds in the driver says: "If she doesn't get out of the sidewalk I will come back with my semi and run her over."

"That's the point that I called the police," Bornheimer told Streetsblog. The driver also dropped several F-bombs and shouted "if you stand in the middle of the intersection, you get what you get."

Note at the end of the video the motorist struggles to lift himself back into his vehicle because of its dangerous raised suspension and oversized wheels. In addition, his Jeep has a "killer grill," as if the entire vehicle has been modified to maximize the potential carnage on pedestrians and bicyclists.

This driver dropped f-bombs and told families and children "you get what you get" at the same time claiming not to be violent. Photo: Bonheimer's Twitter
This driver dropped f-bombs and threatened to run over a woman while claiming not to be violent. Photo: Bornheimer's Twitter
This driver dropped f-bombs and told families and children "you get what you get" at the same time claiming not to be violent. Photo: Bonheimer's Twitter

"The Richmond Police Station is aware of the incident; I'm showing them the video today," said Bornheimer. He added that he hears and sees threatening behavior often from people who oppose Slow Streets.

"Unfortunately, there are activists who wish to revert Lake Street back to a pre-pandemic configuration where it was used as a cut-through street by cars," wrote Mike Chen, with Friends of Slow Lake, in an email to Streetsblog. Residents of the Richmond are fighting to maintain Lake Street's Slow Street status, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, which prohibits through automobile traffic and requires drivers to travel at a safe speed.

Image: SFMTA
Image: SFMTA
Image: SFMTA

Friends of Slow Lake organized Sunday's event along with Northern Neighbors SF, Grow the Richmond, Streets for People, Grow SF, and Kid Safe SF. "Celebrate Slow Lake Street" was held between 8th and 23rd Avenues to raise awareness of the issue and to get people to take an SFMTA survey that could make Slow Lake Street permanent (or could potentially roll back the effort). Some 200 people attended the event.

From the advocacy groups:

SFMTA has a new survey out gathering feedback on three proposed designs for the permanent Slow Lake Street. Unfortunately, while we thought permanent Slow Lake Street was a done deal after July’s SFMTA vote, pushback from some vocal anti-slow-street advocates has led to a “no build” option being included in SFMTA’s design process, which would result in Lake Street reverting to the dangerous street full of cars it was pre-pandemic.

Photo: Michael Chen
Photo: Mike Chen
Photo: Michael Chen

"I commute to work via bicycle two days a week and drive on other days. My family and I regularly use Slow Lake for exercise, to connect with neighbors in a new way, to walk our dog and even commute," wrote advocate Reed Maltzman, who lives on 5th at Lake, in an email to Streetsblog. "It’s probably one of the best things to come out of COVID." He added when he does drive, he hasn't found the Slow Street configuration to be a problem.

"This is an amazing addition to the neighborhood," said Bornheimer.

SFMTA survey results thus far show a strong majority of residents and Lake users agree with Maltzman and Bornheimer.

However, Chen says a vocal minority of motorists opposed to Slow Streets are getting out the word to take the survey too, with the hopes of keeping it as a cut-through for cars, regardless of the safety implications.

Be sure to take the survey before January 14. 

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