Bicyclist killed in San Francisco traffic accident described as rising tech star
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Members of the biking community in San Francisco, saddened and angered over two recent cyclist fatalities, packed a meeting with city officials to complain about what they call the city's lack of action over traffic safety.
A co-worker of the one of the victims described her as a young, rising star in the tech world.
Kate Slattery's co-workers at Solar City are still reeling from her death.
"It's been awful since we lost her, I mean, she was real light," said Emily Kofsky who worked closely with Slattery.
The 26-year-old Slattery, originally from Wisconsin, had moved to San Francisco, where she worked as an engineer alongside her brother, Tom.
She was killed while riding her bike last week. Police say driver, 32-year-old Farrukh Mushtaq, ran a red light at the corner of 7th and Howard streets last Wednesday and then took off.
"It was awful finding out, um because so many of us here at Solar city, we ride our bikes to work and from work and it's really hit home about bike safety in the city," said Kofsky.
That's why dozens of cyclists packed a subcommittee meeting on the City's Vision Zero Project, which aims to eliminate all traffic fatalities by the year 2024.
"I think we all just really have to band together and be united to insist that this just stops and that we stop with the death and the carnage," stated Supervisor Scott Wiener, who has been a vocal proponent for cycling advocates and traffic safety improvements.
Less than two hours after Slattery died a cyclist in Golden Gate Park, 41-year-old Heather Miller, was hit and killed by a speeding driver. That suspect fled the scene.
We contacted one of Miller's relatives by text, who told KTVU that Miller's husband, family and friends are grieving deeply and want her killer caught.
"I think people are outraged because they know that accidents like these are preventable,” said Chris Cassidy, the Director of Communications of the SF Bicycle Coalition, who attended today's meeting to speak.
On Thursday Mayor Ed Lee announced that 57 traffic improvement projects are in the works over the next two years. But Cassidy argues that they're old projects that are being recycled as new, many of them long-delayed.
SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said the listing of high priority vision zero projects are new, some of which have been underway like the Masonic streetscape project which is breaking ground this July.
"The listing represents the sort of transformative engineering, education and enforcement initiatives that are needed to reach our vision zero goals," said Rose.
"Last year we committed to 24 projects in two years and completed 30. This year we are committed to 57 projects starting this year for the second round. We can't create engineering projects out of the blue and start them the same year. There is a design, outreach, funding process we have to complete before we get to this phase."
At today's meeting, tempers flared. Supervisors Norman Yee, Scott Wiener and Jane Kim said they remain dedicated to seeing Vision Zero.
"As tragedies continue on our streets, and we lose lives or see more severe injuries continue," said Supervisor Kim, "we realize that this work continues to be incredibly urgent." Kim went on to say that creating more protected bike lanes should be a top priority for SFTMA.
The improvements can't come fast enough for Slattery's family or friends. Her funeral was Thursday.
"She had a really great future and career ahead of her and, you know, the industry has lost someone. Our company has lost someone. We've all just lost a friend."
Co-workers say Slattery had written a children's book, encouraging girls to explore the world of engineering. She also volunteered, mentoring women interested in the field.
Solar City has set up a scholarship fund in her name. Kofsky says, so Kate's light can shine on.
The mayor's office said that since 2010, they've been working with the Bicycle Coalition to identify projects to make the city's streets safer. "Our streets look very differently than they did six years ago and that is because of our commitment to the safety of cyclists and pedestrians," the statement read.
A follow up meeting between Mayor Lee's Chief of Staff and the Bicycle Coalition was said to be scheduled for next week.
A scholarship fund has been put in place in memory of Kate Slattery