Residents of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood and pedestrian advocates held a vigil this week to call for safety enhancements at the site of the city’s latest fatal vehicle collision, in which a man died after being struck by a bus.
The 65-year-old victim, Mark Swink of San Francisco, died after a Golden Gate Transit bus struck him as he was crossing at Hyde Street and Golden Gate Avenue on Saturday evening. It was the city’s 10th fatal collision involving a bicyclist or pedestrian, and the sixth in just over a month, according to Walk San Francisco.
“Six traffic deaths on our streets in one month is a crisis,” said Mata Lindsey, a spokeswoman with Walk SF. “Anybody who walks our streets would say this is a crisis. It feels so different than it did five years ago.
“The reality is our city is facing new challenges on our streets. We have tens of thousands of new vehicles, we’ve got faster speeds, we’ve got distracted drivers. Our city has to act in a way that matches those challenges that we’re seeing, or else our city is going to get really scary,” she said.
One block away, Janice Higashi, 58, died March 5 after a vehicle struck her on Golden Gate Avenue and Leavenworth Street. Higashi was crossing the street as she was on a lunch break from jury duty, Lindsey said.
“The Tenderloin is an area that has so many seniors, kids and families, and deserves and needs safe streets,” said the neighborhood’s supervisor Matt Haney, who attended the vigil held Monday. “We have folks who walk around here everyday — this is one of the most dense neighborhoods in the entire city — yet we also have, at the same time, some of the most dangerous intersections and streets in the entire city as well.
“That’s the daily reality in the Tenderloin. We have one-way streets, with fast traffic, with turns that are going on and off, onto other fast one-way streets; it’s a deadly combination. What we know is that there are solutions,” he said.
According to Haney, since Higashi’s death, the Tenderloin Traffic Safety Taskforce was able to work with the city to come up with a way to add lights preventing cars from turning when pedestrians are crossing. The simple fix was implemented within weeks, he said.
“That’s something that needs to happen at this intersection immediately. And it’s something that needs to happen on other streets in the Tenderloin and beyond,” he said.