Walk San Francisco, city leaders call for emergency declaration over traffic deaths

San Francisco city leaders, pedestrians and cyclists are calling for a state of emergency declaration to take immediate action, saying people are dying on the city's streets.

This call for a state of emergency began with a recitation of the names of those killed on San Francisco streets this year and a moment of silence. Pedestrian and bicycle safety advocates, city and state officials saying enough is enough.

"We are all here in solidarity to call on our city's leaders to declare a state of emergency," said Jodie Medeiros from Walk San Francisco.

That declaration would free up funding to start making changes to some of the city's most dangerous streets immediately. "With the number of the pedestrian and bike fatalities this calls for extreme action," said Medeiros.

Safety advocates are calling for lower speed limits, better-timed traffic lights, scramble crosswalks that allow pedestrians to walk without any cross traffic. And they want San Francisco police to step up enforcement on some of the most dangerous activities: speeding, stop sign and red light running; something KTVU cameras captured time, after time at the intersection of Taylor and O'Farrell streets, where 39-year-old Benjamin Dean of Clovis was killed when a driver struck him over the weekend. 

A disproportionate number of fatalities fall in Supervisor Matt Haney's district. He says he and his fellow supervisors are calling for a resolution to declare that state of emergency. "That can initiate some emergency funding some quicker steps to address what is causing this, which is streets that are designed like freeways," said Haney.

The spike in traffic fatalities could be tied to an overall increase in traffic in the city, according to San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

SFMTA says there are more cars on the roads now than in 2010.

"We know traffic is growing in San Francisco," said Tom Maguire, acting head of the SFMTA. "Even as more and more people are choosing to ride Muni and get around on foot and on bikes. The rapid pace of growth in the city, and the growth of Transportation Network Companies like Uber and Lyft means there're more cars on the road."

Last year San Francisco saw 23 deadly pedestrian and bicycle crashes.

So far this year, the city has seen 14 fatal crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists, with more than five months left in the year.

And those are just the fatal accidents. Pedestrian and cycling advocates say the city sees about three injury accidents every day, meaning hundreds are sent to the hospital every year.