City to redesign intersection where cyclist was struck, killed

The City will redesign an intersection on Howard Street where a bicyclist was struck and killed Thursday last week, which occurred near a bicycle lane protest calling for more street safety.

Those safety treatments include eliminating parking spaces on the south side of Howard and South Van Ness streets to allow for better visibility and continental striping, after San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency staffers analyzed the crosswalk.

At the SFMTA Board of Directors regular meeting on Tuesday, Taylor Ahlgren, a cyclist who witnessed the aftermath of the collision, said a truck parked near the crosswalk reduced visibility for the oncoming driver, an alleged design flaw of the intersection that contributed to the death of the cyclist, Russell Franklin, 56.

Speaking to the board, Ahlgren described the grisly scene.

“The (driver) used a jacket to stop the blood gushing from his right ear,” Ahlgren said, through tears, as his body wracked with sobs.

The driver, Ahlgren said, kept repeating “he came out of nowhere, he came out of nowhere, he came out of nowhere.’ Ahlgren gathered himself and told the board, “it has to stop.”

Ahlgren asked for all crosswalks “designed for death” to be redesigned for pedestrian and cyclist safety “within six months.”

While that ambitious ask wasn’t addressed at the meeting, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin told the board and the public that the intersection would be redesigned to be safer.

“We don’t yet know the cause of the collision,” Reiskin cautioned, while also offering his condolences to Franklin’s friends and family. But SFMTA did “complete its own analysis” he said, and identified improvements that could be made to the intersection that should be installed by the end of next week.

“We’ll have our shops out there making improvements to the area,” he said.

Taylor Ahlgren is hugged by Patrick Traughber after delivering a teary plea for more protected intersections to the SFMTA board. Ahlgren witnessed the death of a cyclist downtown last week. As the cyclist bled from a head wound, Ahlgren tried to save his life.(Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez/S.F. Examiner)

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