Group makes push to end pedestrian deaths in SF


Vision Zero wants to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero in 10 years. The group Walk SF says it has a pedestrian strategy to make it happen, but it will take the entire community.

On the eve of Valentine's Day, citizens, elected officials and law enforcement stood shoulder to shoulder holding red paper hearts in their hands. Each represents a traffic fatality in San Francisco.

Some hearts read "survivor;" John Lowell was hit in a crosswalk at Mission and 14th in 2001.

"The leading injury I sustained was traumatic brain injury from this collision as I went through the air roughly 20 feet and landed on the pavement and did a roll," said Lowell.

Now an advocate for pedestrian safety, Lowell is promoting three E's: education, engineering and enforcement. Today's event speaks to education. As for engineering, the director of the MTA says updating the city's antiquated streets can't happen overnight, but they're working on it.

"There's a lot we've been doing to lower speed limits to narrow streets, to enhance crosswalks and we're really going to ramp up that work," said SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin.

San Francisco police are in charge of the third E, enforcement.

"Last month, we saw a 43 percent increase in traffic enforcement. More is coming, but, we'd rather that not be the answer. We'd rather the answer simply be that people change their behaviors," said SFPD Commander Mikail Ali.

That includes drivers slowing down and everyone putting down their cellphones and paying attention because in addition to the people who are hit and killed, those who are hit and injured face long recoveries and sometimes permanent damage.

Monique Porsandeh was hit a year ago in the Marina District.

"I've come a really long way. I have had many phases, but I'm able to walk again I'm able to wake up each day," said Porsandeh.

Of note, 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities are happening on just six percent of city streets. The most dangerous areas are in the Tenderloin and SOMA neighborhoods.

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