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Three pedestrians killed in one week. Here’s what we know.

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We are deeply saddened to share that in just one week, three people have died while walking in San Francisco. Seven pedestrians have been killed in traffic crashes so far this year.

On May 11, a 77-year-old woman was crossing at Steiner and Green in the Cow Hollow neighborhood when she was hit. She did not survive her injuries. (84-year-old Erna Egli was fatally hit just a few blocks away on March 10, 2022). On May 15, an elderly man was fatally hit near Leavenworth and Ellis in the Tenderloin. On the same day, a man was fatally hit at Bayshore and Blanken in Visitacion Valley.

While we don’t have many details on any of these crashes yet, here’s what we do know. All happened very near a busy Muni stop, highlighting how important safe routes to transit are. While we don’t know the age of the third victim, the crashes continue the heartbreaking trend of seniors being much more at risk from dangerous streets in San Francisco (each year around 50% of pedestrians killed in crashes are seniors).

And all three fatal crash locations have elements that make them extra conducive to dangerous driving.

  • Steiner Street is a hill, which means northbound drivers often pick up a lot of speed – and there’s no daylighting at Steiner and Green (note: this intersection is NOT on the high-injury network, where the City is adding daylighting throughout).
  • Ellis Street has very wide travel lanes, which encourage drivers to go fast. The long crossing distance also makes it extra risky for pedestrians.
  • Bayshore Boulevard is an extremely wide street: 100 feet across with four travel lanes plus two transit lanes for the T-Third. Again, this leads to faster speeds by drivers and without frequent, automatic walk signals along at crossings like this, people walking have to guess when it’s safe to cross.

We also know that broader trends with traffic safety are going in the wrong direction. On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its early estimate of traffic fatalities for 2021. NHTSA projects that an estimated 42,915 people died in traffic crashes last year, the highest number of fatalities since 2005.

Everyone who walks deserves to be safe, especially our kids and elders. Here are three ways we’re working right now (with your help!) to win life saving changes:

  • Pushing for solutions to bring down dangerous speeds. Speed is the #1 cause of severe and fatal crashes in San Francisco. Read more about Walk SF’s Slow Our Streets campaign. Then sign up to help us do a speed survey on Guerrero Street May 24.
  • Working to pass Prop A. This June 7 ballot measure would provide $114 million for needed safe streets projects if it’s passed. Learn more and spread the word.
  • Winning the strongest possible safety improvements on dangerous streets. The City has many safety projects in the works, but these can easily get watered down during the design phase (which is why we watchdog these and push for more!). Two important safety projects we need folks to weigh in on right now are on Bayshore Boulevard (take SFMTA’s survey by May 31) and Octavia Boulevard (take SFCTA’s survey by May 31).

The recent victory in making car-free JFK permanent showed what we can do together. So I hope you’ll get involved in our ongoing work to make our entire city truly safe for people walking.

Questions? Contact Brian Haagsman, Vision Zero Organizer, at Banner image is from the intersection where Erna Egli was killed in March 2022. Photo by Walk SF.