Seniors, disabled impacted most in dangerous SF crosswalks

- According to city data, San Francisco has the dubious distinction of being the second most dangerous city in America for people simply trying to cross the street; only New York City has more pedestrian fatalities.

Seniors and those with disabilities demonstrated just how precarious crossing the street can be and why they want the city to lengthen the amount of time on pedestrian signals.

Dozens of pedestrian advocates crossed the intersection at Geary and Masonic; some used walkers, others had canes or were in wheelchairs. None of them were able to cross in fewer than 20 seconds, which was the allotted time.

"They blow the horn and they yell, 'Get the hell outta the way!'" said 88-year-old Jean Frances Lynch, pointing to trucks, buses and cars zooming past.

"I'm trying my best not to get killed!" said Alice Chiu, who is nearly blind. She and others with the group Walk San Francisco say the city needs to give seniors and those with disabilities more time to cross certain intersections.

"It's scary when people are pushing you," said Chiu. "You get more and more nervous when they are honking and they are driving fast."

Each year in San Francisco more than 20 pedestrians are killed by cars.

The SFMTA sets the timing for the signals in the city so it's a process of working with them to basically convince them and see where we can get the time lengthened," said Cathy De Luca, Executive Director at Walk SF.

Last year, 44 percent of all people killed in city traffic were 65 years or older yet seniors only constituted 15 percent of the city's population.

"16 years ago my mom was hit by a car as a pedestrian as she was crossing Park Presidio and Anza," said Jenny Yu, whose mother Judy suffered brain damage as a result of the accident and now has to have round-the-clock care. "She has the capacity of an 8 year old. She suffers severe depression and PTSD."
Yu has made it her life's mission to make streets safer for everyone.

The SFMTA says it's already improving cross times from four feet per second to three and a half feet per second and improvements to Masonic and Geary are already underway.

"Once the light turns green you have a tendency to just to step on the pedal and go and may not be looking directly in front of you at the intersection of someone who may not have been able to cross," said SF Supervisor

Sandra Lee Fewer who walked with the group around the intersection to get a feel for the timing of the lights. Lee Fewer said she was stuck by a car as a child so fighting for pedestrian rights is important to her.

Lynch told KTVU that she was not able to cross the street in 20 seconds today. "I have degenerative problems," said Lynch. "I've had back surgery, I have a vision problem, I got a lotta problems!! But I want to keep moving!"

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