Pedestrian safety advocates return to scene where 4-year old was killed

Pedestrian safety advocates are calling on the City of San Francisco to make changes to dangerous intersections after a 4-year-old was killed last month. Her parents were pushing her in a stroller in a crosswalk when they were hit by a car, killing the little girl and seriously injuring her father. 

Activists don’t want the city to forget about the death of this little girl, so they returned a month later to rebuild her memorial. They’ve placed a white stroller as a "ghost stroller," tied stuffed animals to the trees, and held signs to commemorate the little girl who lost her life here. 

Police arrested the 71-year-old woman driving. However, this rally is about keeping the city accountable to making the proper changes, not just to this street, but the 900 dangerous intersections categorized as "high-injury." 

"The city has identified the most dangerous streets in the city in terms of high crash rates and 68% of crashes are happening on just 12% of streets," said Marta Lindsey from Walk San Francisco. "Those are the high-injury streets and within those there are 900 intersections that still haven’t had any improvements to make it safer for people to cross."

There have already been some changes made to the street since the accident, including installing a flashing yellow turn signal for drivers and removing one of the two right-turn lanes. Lindsey said it’s not sufficient and there are still vulnerabilities for pedestrians. The arrow reinforces the requirement for drivers to yield to pedestrians. This will reduce the number of conflicts between turning cars and people in the crosswalk.   

"The city needs to fix this intersection," said Lindsey, "and all deadly intersections like this, and they need to do it really quickly."

"I don’t want that little girl to be forgotten," said Michelle Svelti, who saw the incident from her apartment window, and hasn’t been the same since.

"We heard a bang, and then we heard screaming, and the screaming is what drew me to my window," said Svelti. "I saw when a group of pedestrians pick up the car, and they pulled a little girl out."

"The worst part of the whole thing was the parents," said Svelti. "I have never heard anyone wail like that in my whole life. It was the worst sound I’ve ever heard." 

Svelti said she doesn’t want other families to go through what this little girl’s family had to endure.

"This type of thing is not okay," said Svelti. "It should never happen again."

In the city of San Francisco, there have been 39 traffic deaths this year, with 12 of those pedestrians. Walk SF wants to see that number decline. They’re urging people to reach out to city leaders to fix deadly intersections like these.

At the SF Board of Supervisor's hearing on September 12, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said, "If it seems like there isn’t any traffic enforcement in San Francisco, that’s because there largely isn’t," said District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. "And with 39 lives lost to traffic crashes last year alone, we simply cannot continue to shortchange street safety. This month’s hearing is a time for law enforcement and policymakers to get serious and reach agreement on a concrete strategy to restore traffic enforcement."

Following the incident, Mayor London Breed directed the SFMTA to produce a plan and timeline for how the Agency will prioritize safety improvements on the rest of the High Injury Network streets by the end of 2024. The plan will include:   

  • Installing pedestrian improvements at intersections, including daylighting, more time to cross the street, upgraded crosswalks, and other features to slow turning cars on fifty miles of High Injury Network streets  
  • Detailed timelines to install seventeen Quick-Build projects that address systemic safety issues on High Injury Streets and prioritize mobility and safety for pedestrians, transit riders, and cyclists