Latest pedestrian death in San Francisco prompts calls for safer roads

Pressure is being put on San Francisco lawmakers to improve traffic safety along a major thoroughfare in the Mission District. It comes after yet another pedestrian lost their life in the city this week.

"It’s really dangerous, this corner," said Amesia Doles, who owns a flower shop on the corner of 18th and Valencia Streets, just across from where police say an 80-year-old man was hit by a car in a crosswalk on Wednesday afternoon. The victim was rushed to the hospital but didn’t survive.  

"I don’t feel safe on Valencia Street. I got rid of my bike," Doles said. "Other people are going to get hurt, and that’s the long and short of it."

The crash, which occurred as a car turned left onto Valencia, marked the 14th pedestrian death in the city so far this year.

"The conflict with the left-hand turns, drivers are often looking at on-coming traffic, they’re not necessarily paying attention to who’s in the crosswalk. They’re eager to get across traffic," said Jodie Madeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco.

Madeiros is now urging city lawmakers to do away with left hand turns onto Valencia Street at some busy intersections, and for ‘calming’ bumps to be installed at other areas. Madeiros says she also supports a proposal that would bring an all-pedestrianized pilot project to a section of the roadway. 

"I think we should try it sooner than later," Madeiros said.

The proposal follows a recent overhaul of Valencia by city officials, which included the installation of a bike lane down the center of the roadway, and a ban on left-hand turns for vehicles coming off of Valencia.  

Long-time resident Flora Campoy says she thinks that the changes have only made the street more dangerous. 

"This Valencia Street has become like a highway for a lot of people," Campoy said. "They don’t stop to read the signs. If they read them, they don’t respect them. Actually, myself, I’ve been several times, on the spot, where I almost get run over."

Meantime, Doles says she wonders if the City just needs to hit pause before it makes any more changes.  


San Francisco's mid-Valencia Street bike-lane pilot project approved

San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency board members voted unanimously on Tuesday to split the Mission District's Valencia Street down the middle of the road to create new bike lanes in the interest of safety.

"Between like the Capp Street closures and the Mission Street red carpet that you can’t make any turns, it’s so impossible to just drive that everybody is frustrated, so then they just ignore the laws completely," Doles said. "Everything that’s been implemented isn’t working, so maybe we need to go back to the drawing board." 

Walk San Francisco is planning to raise some of its concerns during a San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, where the SFMTA is expected to present an assessment of 900 city intersections.

On Thursday, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman is also planning to hold a hearing on SFPD traffic enforcement.