A pedestrian’s death may bring about some change to a busy Market Street intersection — but advocates are calling for more.
Shortly after a memorial Tuesday that honored the life of Thu Phan, a 38-year-old killed as she crossed Market Street in her wheelchair, transit officials announced 7th and Market streets will gain new signage clarifying illegal turns, at least two of which were installed Tuesday.
The old signs were criticized by safety advocates as too difficult to read.
“It was tragic, and it was preventable,” Ed Reiskin, head of the San Franciscto Municipal Transportation Agency, said of Phan’s death at the SFMTA Board of Directors meeting in City Hall.
Phan was hit by a car assigned to the South of Market Mental Health Services clinic on Harrison Street driven by a city worker at about 10 a.m. on Feb. 5. She was taken to a hospital but died there the next day.
San Francisco police investigators found that the driver, identified as 67-year-old James Harris of Antioch, was at fault in the collision.
Police recommended Tuesday that Harris be cited for misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter, San Francisco police Officer Grace Gatpandan said.
Exactly what charges Harris might face remain unclear as the case was only forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday. He was making a left turn onto Market Street in violation of posted signs there, though city vehicles are exempt and allowed to make that left turn, according to police.
Phan’s surviving family, including her two sisters, brother in law, and infant niece and nephew, recalled the pain of Phan’s death at the meeting.
Holly Michna, Phan’s sister, told the board, “We were in the hospital. We saw how fast she deteriorated.”
“The surgeon told us she had bleeding in her head,” Michna said, through tears. “She had to go in for emergency surgery, and she never woke up.”
Earlier Tuesday, Michna and dozens of others gathered at 7th and Market streets, the site of Pan’s death, to remember her life.
They wore purple ribbons and attached purple flowers to a pole at the corner of Market and 7th, because purple was Phan’s favorite color.
The memorial was led by Senior and Disability Action and Walk San Francisco, two advocacy groups. Those gathered called on the SFMTA to ban commercial vehicles from turning off Market Street between 3rd and 8th streets, as well as to prioritize police enforcement of “failure to yield to pedestrian” violations.
Advocates also called for The City to conduct annual traffic and safety training for city employees who operate city vehicles.
Supervisors Norman Yee, Jane Kim and Eric Mar emphasized the need for pedestrian safety measures at the memorial.
Yee also called attention to his legislation to require every city department to equip its vehicles with GPS devices. If those devices were installed on city vehicles, Yee said, they would incentivize drivers to drive more safely — perhaps preventing more loss of life.
Bay City News contributed to this report.