Reflecting on 2023 and a heartfelt thanks
As we welcome a new year, I wanted to first say thank you to all our members for all that you made possible in 2023, plus share some thoughts on 2023 and what’s to come.
2023 included many tears of heartbreak, and also tears of joy.
2023 was the year that a four-year-old child was hit and killed in the crosswalk while being pushed in her stroller by her father. I will never forget placing a small pair of pink sneakers on the memorial we created for her at 4th and King Streets.
Going into 2024, we desperately need the City to fulfill its promise to complete basic improvements on 900 high-injury intersections by the end of this year, and Walk SF will continue to demand this happen.
2023 was also the year that we finally passed legislation allowing speed cameras in San Francisco. There was no shortage of tears every time we went to Sacramento and members of Families for Safe Streets shared their stories of loss with lawmakers in hopes they would see the need for more speed-slowing tools. Every single vote that AB 645 faced was an emotional rollercoaster, especially given that the three previous camera bills had never even made it out of committee. It was tears of pure joy when Governor Newsom signed the bill into law on October 13.
2023 brought other important policies and progress for pedestrians. The car-free space on Shelley Drive in McLaren Park was made permanent. JFK Promenade became even more popular and beloved, shining a light on what’s possible. The SFMTA Board brought new, needed focus to the City’s Vision Zero commitment (which expires at the end of 2024; more on that later). And 20 MPH speed limits came to 30 more streets.
While three fewer pedestrians were hit and killed in 2023 than 2022, pedestrians made up a larger share of traffic deaths in 2023 in San Francisco, mirroring deeply troubling national trends. (The Department of Public Health will release its report on severe injuries later this year to see the full story on crashes.) The dangers we face every day when walking are real and rising. Larger, heavier, more powerful vehicles and increasingly aggressive and distracted drivers threaten us all.
But when I look to you – our community of supporters, advocates, and partners – I know we can keep winning the changes needed for San Francisco to lead with safe streets.
In the last weeks of 2023, I put out a panicked message about our fundraising shortfall. Many of you stepped up, and filled a sizable gap in the nick of time. To everyone who supported Walk SF in 2023, truly: I can’t thank you enough. You make it all possible.
Of course all year long, so many of you stepped up for safe streets in so many ways. Sending emails, giving public comments, building temporary memorials at 4th and King and on the steps of City Hall, volunteering, doing our fundraising walks, talking to your neighbors, calling leaders, coming to Sacramento… This is how we win.
And we have a lot more we need to win, as you know. This coming year Walk SF will lead the campaign to get the City to adopt a bold, new Vision Zero policy and plan – plus build the political support so that changes on the ground happen a whole lot faster. We’ll push the City to launch speed cameras as quickly and strategically as possible and win more solutions to #SlowOurStreets. We’ll keep fighting for fixes to the 900 deadly intersections awaiting basic safety improvements.
But as Walk San Francisco celebrates our 25th anniversary, we’re thinking beyond 2024, too. Toward the many transformative changes needed to make San Francisco the true leader in safe streets. And how if we succeed in becoming the most pedestrian-friendly city in the United States, we will inspire other so many cities to follow – and so many lives will be saved.
With you at our side, I believe we’re just getting started. So on behalf of our small but mighty staff, have a happy and healthy New Year, and thank you again for being part of the safe streets movement.