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Safety improvements coming to scene of Embarcadero e-scooter crash

A 69-year-old woman is clinging to life after her e-scooter collided with a cement truck Monday along the Embarcadero, according to police.

In perhaps a tragic coincidence of timing, the collision occurred just one week before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is set to discuss street safety improvements along the Embarcadero — including the intersection where it occurred.

The woman hit a cement mixer while traveling through the intersection at Bay Street and the Embarcadero at roughly 3:25 p.m on Monday, police said, and was then transported to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday which party struck the other, and police said they are still investigating the collision.

The e-scooter crash took place only one block away from where pedicab operator Kevin Manning, 66, was struck and killed by a Honda Civic on the Embarcadero in 2018. Manning’s death sparked fury from bicyclists who contended the Port of San Francisco and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency dragged their feet on building out critical protected bike lanes along the waterfront.

Next week the SFMTA Board of Directors will see those street safety changes, called the Embarcadero Enhancement Project, presented in far more detail which includes bike lanes protected by physical barriers that are usable by e-scooter riders.

While detailed designs have not yet been revealed, preliminary outlines show turn restrictions on Bay Street and the Embarcadero, the intersection where the 69-year-old woman was struck, and two-way, barrier-protected bike lanes along the waterfront.

Had those protected bikeways existed this week, the woman may have been riding her e-scooter across the street in a lane created exclusively to protect vulnerable road users.

Bicyclists and e-scooter riders took to social media Tuesday after the crash to call for the Embarcadero Enhancement Project to speed up.

“Hi @jeffreytumlin — what can we do to expedite the Embarcadero Enhancement Project? Bike lanes and 30 mph cement mixers don’t … uh … mix,” Andrew Davidson, a bicyclist who commutes on the Embarcadero, wrote to SFMTA director Jeffrey Tumlin on Twitter Tuesday.

While SFMTA hasn’t made any public moves on the Embarcadero Enhancement Project since an open house in October, “we have been busy advancing the project” by hiring consultants, conducting surveys, and preparing an environmental review for the project, SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato told the San Francisco Examiner in a statement.

SFMTA “will have a lot to share in 2020” about the project, she said, including the potential for “quick build” safety measures that can be implemented in days, not years, to make the corridor safer for people walking, riding e-scooters, and bicycling.

Port of San Francisco spokesperson Randy Quezada noted that after the SFMTA sees the project next week, it would next go to the Port Commission for presentation, along with “education and enforcement campaigns to improve safety.”

This collision also comes only a week after University of California San Francisco published a report highlighting rising e-scooter injuries on streets across the U.S.

Scooter-related injuries and hospital admissions grew 222 percent between 2014 and 2018, according to the study’s authors, with more than 39,000 known injuries.

Roughly one-third of patients suffered head trauma, which is more than twice the rate of head injuries bicyclists typically sustain.

“We’re very concerned about the significant increase in injuries and hospital admissions that we documented, particularly during the last year,” Benjamin Breyer, one of the report’s authors, said in a UCSF statement when the report was released.

While e-scooter injuries are on the ride, traffic data shows drivers of personal vehicles injure more people on San Francisco streets by far than any other vehicle mode, including bicycles and e-scooters. In San Francisco 29 people were killed in traffic collisions in 2019, 18 of them struck and killed by vehicles while walking.

More than 500 San Franciscans are also severely or critically injured by traffic collisions annually, according to San Francisco Department of Public Health data.

E-scooters are permitted for use in The City by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. Four companies have been permitted to operate in San Francisco: Jump, Lime, Spin, and Scoot.

It was not immediately clear what type of e-scooter the injured woman was riding Monday.

joe@sfexaminer.com

Editor’s Note: This story initially reported the Embarcadero Enhancement Project would go to the SFMTA board for approval. Instead, it will be an information item with no vote scheduled.

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez covers transportation for the San Francisco Examiner. He also writes the weekly political On Guard column. Reach him at joe@sfexaminer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzTheReporter.

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