SF officials demand faster action on street safety amid rise in traffic deaths

‘What the heck are we waiting for?’ says Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee

Judy Yu almost died in 2011 when a speeding SUV made a sharp left turn and struck her as she crossed the street, throwing her body to the curb.

Fortunately, she survived. But years later, the incident continues to threaten her life.

“Since then, she hasn’t been the same,” her daughter, Jenny Yu, said with tears streaming down her cheeks. “She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, cognitive impairment, she’s delusional at times… She’s suicidal.”

Jenny Yu turned her grief into action Sunday at a gathering of three dozen traffic victims, advocates and city officials honoring the fifth annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

Experts say nearly 600 San Franciscans are severely injured in traffic crashes each year, and that number is rising.

This year, San Francisco has hit a three-year high in traffic deaths with 26 fatalities including 16 pedestrians and one cyclist who were killed as of last week, according to numbers from Police Chief Bill Scott. There were 19 traffic deaths at the same point in time last year.

Among those in attendance at the event Sunday outside City Hall were Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee and supervisors Rafael Mandelman and Matt Haney.

“Thank you for sharing your stories,” Yee told the attendees. “This impacts not only the individual, but the whole family, their friends, the community.”

Yee promised to double down on measures to prevent traffic violence on the streets and said he has been challenging traffic officials to find faster and better solutions for improving safety.

“We’re supposed to have 15-mile speed zones around schools,” Yee said. “We’re supposed to have it around every school, but I believe we don’t have them… What the heck are we waiting for?”

State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, was not able to make it to the event, but issued a statement saying that “solving this epidemic isn’t rocket science.”

“We know what has to happen,” Wiener said.

Wiener called for a number of initiatives that The City has been working on for years including protected bike lanes, safe crossings for pedestrians and congestion pricing.

However, Wiener said “we need the political will to make it happen.”

Under its Vision Zero plan, San Francisco is committed to end all traffic fatalities by 2024.

cghisolfi@sfexaminer.com

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