Family members of people who lost people to traffic violence gathered at a dangerous freeway off-ramp in San Francisco to honor the life of Wilbert Williams, who was killed by a car at that location exactly a year ago, on June 15, 2014.
The group included family members, advocated and City leaders. All urged Caltrans to make engineering changes to help save lives, asking the transportation agency to join the Vision Zero movement.
“In 2014 alone, four people have died at this one interchange in SOMA,” said Walk SF Executive Director, Nicole Ferrara, regarding the 5th Street off-ramp and adjacent streets and sidewalks. “Caltrans is notorious for focusing their engineering on facilitating vehicle traffic, and regularly misses the mark on safety goals. Today, we’re asking Caltrans to stop with business as usual, and start building roads to protect the lives of people who travel on them.”
“I represent the district with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities in the City and the majority of the freeway on and off-ramps,” said District 6 Supervisor, Jane Kim. “Although the issue of pedestrian safety has always been a top priority for me since I took office, I continue to be reminded of the very real human cost of not acting. My most agonizing moments on this job have been trying to console families devastated by the loss of a loved one, attending the funerals and grieving with the friends and families of residents killed by collisions that are 100% preventable.”
“Freeway ramps in San Francisco are where fast-moving traffic merging on and off freeways literally meets our local streets – and the people walking and biking along them. This can be a fatal combination. Tracking these deaths and where they occur helps us to recognize patterns and opportunities to save lives,” said Megan Wier of SFDPH, who co-chairs San Francisco’s Vision Zero Task Force.
“When recent history shows how deadly certain sections of our roads are for people biking and walking, there’s no excuse for inaction,” said Noah Budnick, Executive Director of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “Vision Zero is more than an opportunity for government officials to cut ribbons and earn headlines; it’s a moral obligation to take immediate action and make our streets safer and more comfortable for everyone.”
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón is also not taking traffic deaths lightly. In 2014, his office charged 9 out of 10 vehicular manslaughter cases presented, and 8 out of 8 vehicular manslaughter cases involving a pedestrian. “As this case illustrates, a lapse in judgment can result in very dire consequences for all parties involved,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. “We must all remain vigilant and do everything in our power to improve the safety of our streets.”