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Advocates plead for safer streets at vigil for mother, daughter killed by taxi

Pedestrian safety advocates and city officials held vigil Thursday night to remember a mother and daughter killed by a taxi driver earlier this month. The vigil was held just steps away from the site of the crash.

During the solemn gathering, advocates took the opportunity to once again call on city officials and agencies, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, to do more to keep The City’s pedestrians safe.

Jodie Medeiros, executive director for Walk San Francisco, said:

As we hold these victims in our hearts, we also need to call on our city to be doing more. We have too many streets that are dangerous and prioritize traffic moving quickly over people’s safety.”

She added:

“We need to figure out how to fundamentally redesign our streets to put people’s safety first over the convenience and speed of cars.”

It was May 22, on a Sunday afternoon, when two women on a sidewalk at Third and Mission streets were fatally struck by a taxi. The victims were identified as Willa Henderson, 32 and her mother, Mary Henderson, 72. Mary Henderson’s husband, Wayne Henderson, was also injured in the crash and is recovering in the hospital.

The tragic scene played out near The Grove restaurant, just across the street from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a northbound driver in the center lane was making a right turn while the taxi was in the next lane, which was a red transit lane for buses and taxis.

To avoid a sideswipe with the vehicle making the right turn from the center lane, the taxi driver steered away and ended up on the sidewalk, killing Willa and Mary Henderson and injuring Wayne Henderson.

Transit officials said a rapid response team was sent out to conduct a field check at the intersection. They found that signage and striping, including high visibility crosswalks and traffic signals outfitted with mast arms for improved driver visibility, were working properly and in good condition.

Stephen Chun, deputy spokerson for the SFMTA, said there were “Right Lane – Buses Taxis Only” signs on the block of Third Street before approaching Mission Street.

Still, Chun said Friday that the SFMTA’s paint shop added a new advanced stop limit at the northbound intersection where the taxi and other vehicle nearly collided.

SFMTA The SFMTA paint shop crew painted a new advanced stop limit at the intersection of Mission and Third streets in San Francisco, Calif., on Friday, May 27, 2022. (Photo courtesy of SFMTA)

The agency is also working to modify the transit lane and right turn lane signage on Third Street approaching Mission Street. Chun said the signs are in production and are expected to be completed in approximately two weeks. In addition, plates will be installed on existing transit signals.

Just one day before the two women were killed in the the South of Market collision, another pedestrian was killed in a Richmond District crash at 37th Avenue and Fulton Street, near the Golden Gate Park Senior Center.

Chun said there are no new rapid response recommendations as infrastructure is already in place, including an improved traffic signal installed in late 2017 and updated signal times for pedestrian intervals, bulb outs and continental crosswalks. The crash site is in a designated senior zone due to proximity to the senior center and as such, the speed limit is already set lower than it is on other parts of Fulton Street.

Walk San Francisco said traffic crashes have resulted in 10 pedestrians deaths so far this year.

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