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Pedestrian death prompts latest calls for ‘daylighting,’ other safety measures

Another pedestrian death on San Francisco streets. Another call for action.

So far this year, The City has seen 10 pedestrians and bicyclists killed in traffic collisions, including most recently in the Tenderloin last weekend. Four others died in The City using other modes of transportation this year.

Mark Swink, 65, was crossing Golden Gate and Hyde streets when a Golden Gate Transit bus struck Swink at around 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. A vigil was held for Swink at the intersection led by Walk San Francisco and Supervisor Matt Haney, who represents the Tenderloin.

At the San Francisco County Transportation Authority meeting Tuesday, commissioners, who also serve as the Board of Supervisors, approved a resolution in support of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to expedite near-term improvements for pedestrian and bike safety projects and to prioritize safety over traffic flow.

Supervisor Norman Yee, the sponsor of the resolution, said:

“We must do everything in our power to stop these injuries and fatalities, which are 100 percent preventable.”

Yee has another resolution at the Board of Supervisors urging the transit agency to step up its efforts to implement a plan for daylighting streets.

Daylighting removes parking at corners of intersection so that pedestrians are more visible to oncoming traffic.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose said in a statement on Yee’s resolution at the Board of Supervisors:

“We strongly support Vision Zero and daylighting is a proven tool to help make our streets safer. We look forward to working with the Board of Supervisors to continue and accelerate our work to help prevent traffic deaths in San Francisco.”

Yee added that he wanted the public to make a bigger deal about traffic collisions as they do with gun violence:

“…But for some reason, the crisis of traffic violence and our residents killed by simply walking across the street or biking to work is hardly noticed. I refuse to accept that being killed or injured while walking, biking, or commuting, is simply part of the urban living.”

The SFMTA has prioritized plans to get on the ground 10 quick-build safety projects by the end of this year.

Before the Transportation Authority approved the resolution, the board approved funding for two Vision Zero projects. — one on Divisadero Street and another along Howard Street.

Approximately 237,000 will fund safety improvements on Divisadero between Haight and Turk streets such as daylighting, pedestrian safety zones, advanced traffic limit lines, bigger traffic signal lenses, and pedestrian signals.

On Howard from Third Street to the Embarcadero, the SFMTA received $390,000 to install curbside parking protected bikeway, floating parking, traffic delineators, painted hatched buffer areas, and bus boarding islands.

The parking protected bikeway would connect with the one already installed by the SFMTA on Howard and Fourth streets and stretches to 11th Street.

Tess Rothstein, a cyclist riding on Howard Street, was struck and killed by a truck while trying to avoid a person opening their car door in March.

Matt Lasky, acting bike program manager for the SFMTA, said the transit agency is aiming to have the project completed by one year.

Supervisor Matt Haney questioned the length of time it would take to get the project on the ground as Lasky said the project is part of the SFMTA’s quick-build projects:

“I would say, a lot of people including me, a year to for quick build doesn’t sound that quick.”

Haney said he realizes that there is still a lot of design that the transit agency still needs to complete, but tasked the SFMTA to look at blocks of Howard Street to see if improvements can go in sooner rather than later.

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who has had two traffic fatalities occur in her district in one month, said she would like to see the SFMTA to speak more with residents about the safety of the streets:

“I want to emphasize the fact that MTA also needs to do work on the ground to talk to residents because they are fully aware of the traffic flow in their neighborhood, especially true in my neighborhood, and also take suggestions of district supervisors of where new arterials should be placed in high-injury corridors and not wait for fatalities happen there.”

Bay City News contributed this report.

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