My thoughts on 2019
As the end of 2019 nears, I’ve been getting calls from reporters asking for my thoughts on what kind of year it was for pedestrian safety in San Francisco.
This question is hard for me. Hard to think about. Hard to talk about.
I am immediately back at City Hall with the girls who played soccer with Madlen Koteva, the 14-year-old who was hit and killed crossing the street with her mom and dog in March.
Witnessing the heartbreak of those girls as they walked from office to office, asking for and wondering why the City isn’t doing more to keep people safe… I come back to that day again and again, for many reasons, including some that I can’t put into words.
Madlen was one of 18 people killed while walking in San Francisco in 2019 so far (up from 13 last year). Plus nearly 200 people are severely injured each year while walking, and their lives are changed forever.
When I think about all those people and the fact that solutions exist to prevent traffic crashes… well, “frustrating” doesn’t begin to capture it.
But looking back on 2019, I can also see we’re starting to move the needle for traffic safety. We won several campaigns that will fundamentally change our streets and city. And we are building the political will and a San Francisco-wide movement to support more wins like these.
I’m proud of Walk SF’s work with the Board of Supervisors and our advocacy partners to pass a state of emergency for traffic safety. We also celebrated big wins for pedestrian safety on some of the deadliest streets: 5th, 6th, Brannan, Taylor, Mission, and Geneva.
I’m heartened by a people-first Market Street (starting late January!) and other car-free spaces; the SFMTA’s new “quick-build” policy to fix the most dangerous streets faster; and voter approval of Prop D, which starts to address the impact of the thousands of vehicles from Uber and Lyft. I’m also grateful for Mayor Breed’s attention on the SFPD’s utterly insufficient enforcement of dangerous driving behavior.
But then I think of Madlen’s friends at City Hall. And all I can say is that we must work that much harder in 2020 to stop devastating traffic crashes.
I believe one of the fastest ways to do this is to address unsafe speeds. Our new Slow Our Streets campaign will push for every possible way to bring an end to unsafe speeds across the city. We’ll need every possible voice to do this, though. If you are not a member of Walk SF yet, please join now and stand with us for safe streets in 2020.
Banner image: Kathleen Horne; 2019 World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims at San Francisco City Hall, led by Walk SF and San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets