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Advocate Writes Perfect Response to Chron’s Vision Zero ‘What about the Seniors!’ Article

Fran Taylor, a senior, responds to Chron article lamenting the discomfort of older drivers

Walk SF’s Cathy DeLuca, Mel Beetle, an advocate for seniors, and Jane Kim take a then-new midblock crossing on Howard in 2018. Photo: 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.

Thirty percent of Americans can't drive, either because they're too young, too old, disabled, or some combination. Moreover, a disproportionate number of pedestrians killed by drivers are seniors. And yet the pernicious lie, often used by drivers as an argument against any safety measures that may cause them the slightest inconvenience, continues that Vision Zero is somehow unfair to seniors. That lie was reinforced again in "Why S.F. drivers say owning a car in the city is ‘miserable’," a Chronicle story by Richard Cano and Michael Barba over the weekend. From the story:

“Now when you get in the car, it’s giving a lot of seniors anxiety just to go on their errands,” said Trasvina, 68, a longtime San Francisco resident who finds the city much more difficult to navigate. She added that all the changes are “scaring seniors into staying home.”

Vision Zero is scaring seniors into staying home?

Seniors make up only 15 percent of the population of San Francisco, but account for about half of pedestrian deaths. So what about all the seniors who can't drive and stay home because they are justifiably scared to walk in their own neighborhood for fear of ending up like David Grinberg, who was killed in 2017 walking to the Panhandle by a motorist? Or Jian Huang who was killed by a turning driver while he was trying to cross Valencia Street last year. Or Dmitry Scotkin, killed by a motorist while trying to cross Sloat.

Safe-streets advocate Fran Taylor, herself a senior, had the perfect response to Cano and Barba's piece. The Chron published an edited version in Tuesday's letters page, but Streetsblog reached out to Taylor and can present the original letter she submitted to the newspaper:

I'm sick of seniors being used as an excuse for claiming that driving everywhere is essential. 

Here's what this 74-year-old would like to see in transportation:

  1. Being able to walk neighborhood streets without being forced into traffic by parked cars blocking sidewalks.
  2. Stepping into a crosswalk on the green without getting buzzed by a turning driver or red light runner.
  3. Catching a bus that arrives in a timely fashion when not delayed by excessive car traffic.
  4. Riding my bike for errands in bike lanes not blocked by drivers who threaten me if I complain.
  5. Observing the speed limit and respecting pedestrian right of way without having the car behind roar up on my bumper and honk.

Noticeably absent from this list is getting in a car and driving everywhere, every time. Speakers quoted in this article don't speak for me.

From Streetsblog's view, no, they don't speak for Taylor, or a lot of other seniors, children, and people of all ages and persuasions who prefer to or must walk or roll from place to place. Everyone deserves the right to get from A to B without the real fear of getting mashed by an errant driver. And if some drivers are occasionally inconvenienced as a result, or feel "under siege," too effing bad. The city doesn't belong to drivers, it belongs to everyone.

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