I feel invisible to people behind the wheel.
I was hit last year while crossing the street.
I moved from Wisconsin to San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood in 2018 to be near my two adult kids. Less than a year into my new life in the city, I was hit by a car while walking home from the grocery store.
I was crossing at the intersection of 18th and Guerrero. I had the pedestrian crossing light and was in the crosswalk, nearly half way across 18th, when I realized that the car coming towards me was not going to stop.
In what must have only been a split second, I tried to decide what to do. Try to run? Throw myself to the ground?
Then I don’t remember anything until I opened my eyes to a woman yelling at me to not move my head.
An ambulance was on the way. I was on my back in the street. I could see lots of feet surrounding me. I looked up at the woman who had shouted at me and asked if there was any blood, and she said yes. My head was bleeding. The gravity of what had just happened washed over me. I started to cry.
In the weeks that followed after I went home from the hospital, the bruises on my face and the right side of my body turned colors, then disappeared. The gash on my forehead slowly healed. I was very lucky to have no internal injuries or broken bones. But the emotional damage from that afternoon has stayed with me.
When I moved to San Francisco, I chose not to have a car. Walking in the city has been a major part of my life that I enjoy and value. I walk every day, and have always felt that my feet could get me where I needed to go.
But now I don’t trust my own judgement or perception at intersections. I look in all directions, multiple times. I anticipate that cars won’t stop, and my anxiety sharply rises each time a driver brakes just short of the lined crosswalk.
Sometimes I hold my hand up in the “stop” signal as I cross—and drivers have called to me: “Don’t you think I see you?”
I don’t. I feel invisible to people behind the wheel.
My frustration and sadness have found a safe space and outlet in San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets. This group is made up of survivors and families whose loved ones have been killed or severely injured by preventable crashes on our streets.
Each year, Families for Safe Streets, together with Walk San Francisco, holds World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. This event remembers and honors those who have been hurt and killed, as well as demands an end to these devastating and preventable crashes.
If you are someone who believes our streets should be safer, I invite you to please come and stand in solidarity with those of us who have been directly impacted by traffic violence. Your presence is deeply meaningful to victims and victims family members, and together we will send an even stronger message to city leaders to act with urgency to make streets safe.
I hope to see you at City Hall.