Residents urge on-foot safety

Mission and Cesar Chavez dangers spark demands for pedestrian-friendly changes

Residents living near Cesar Chavez and Mission streets are demanding changes to one of The City’s most dangerous intersections.

On Wednesday, about 50 of the residents held a demonstration calling on several safety improvements on the intersection as well as plans to beautify its landscape. The residents said they organized in response to a 2005 Department of Parking and Traffic report that found the intersection had the seventh-most injury collisions in The City. Between 2000 and 2004, there has been one fatality, two severe injuries and up to 30 minor injuries suffered by pedestrians at the intersection, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

“I think it should be a place that is beautiful for drivers and walkers alike,” said Bonnie Ora Sherk, who has been living near the intersection for more than 30 years and has seen traffic get progressively worse. “It’s a very physically depressing environment and it doesn’t need to be.”

The intersection is a hotbed for day laborers to gather and wait for work. Daniel Romero, who has looked for work on the street for the last six years, said he sees cars racing across the street like it is a freeway. Supervisor Tom Ammiano, who has lived in the neighborhood for 35 years, said two years ago there was an accident at the intersection that killed a child, and residents don’t want any more fatalities.

“If we are going to have a poster child of dangerous streets in San Francisco, I’d like to nominate Cesar Chavez and Mission for that nefarious award,” he said.

Ammiano promised neighbors that he would help secure available funds to see The City make improvements, such as possibly widening the sidewalks and planting trees. Residents such as Lotchana Sourivong, who has lived near the intersection for two years, have formed their own organization, called C.C. Puede, to help make the street safer. She said the area has been neglected primarily because residents have not spoken out.

“On a daily basis out of my window, I hear cars and sirens and I wonder what happened,” she said. “We need to calm the traffic down here.”

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