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San Francisco groups campaign
for improved pedestrian safety

By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service

March 16, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) - In the aftermath of several recent traffic fatalities, pedestrian safety advocates are asking the city of San Francisco to invest more money in making streets safer for walkers and bicyclists.

Twelve pedestrians and cyclists have been killed in vehicle accidents in San Francisco in the last three months, according to Walk San Francisco. The group is asking the city to use $25 million from this year's budget surplus to improve safety for those on foot and on bicycles.

Another organization, the Chinatown Community Development Center, will hold a news conference Friday morning to present Supervisor Aaron Peskin with petitions requesting that a traffic signal be installed at Filbert and Mason streets, where 76-year old Joyce Lam was struck by a cable car on Jan. 21. She later died.

Three of the 12 recent deaths involved San Francisco Municipal Railway vehicles, according to Walk San Francisco.

The executive director of Walk San Francisco, Emily Drennen, would like to see the city spend money on capital improvements to the city streets, such as installing pedestrian countdown signals and curb ramps, as well as increasing traffic enforcement.

Walk San Francisco would also like to see $10 million added to the Municipal Transportation Agency's 2006-07 budget to improve pedestrian safety.

The city should "just fix the streets once and for all," Drennen said, rather than risk losing money in lawsuits.

"Let's spend that money preventatively,'' Drennen said. San Francisco's most recent pedestrian traffic death was that of 89 year-old Chuck-Kee Lau, who was hit on Tuesday by a tour bus owned by Cable Car Charters.

San Francisco resident Ashlyn Dyer, 27, died this week after being struck in a hit-and-run collision while jogging in the Presidio of San Francisco on March 2.

The Presidio is on federal land. The city and the Presidio Parks Trust are jointly offering a $20,000 reward for information that leads to the closure of the investigation into the crash that killed Dyer.

The Chinatown Community Development Center rallied around the cause of pedestrian safety after Lam's death. Pedestrian safety is important everywhere, the Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center said today, but he believes "cable cars have a unique problem'' because they must proceed quickly through turns. His group wants the Municipal Transportation Agency to study the Powell Street cable car line in particular, he said, looking at each intersection along it.

Many of San Francisco's Chinatown residents are older, Fong said, and the neighborhood is crowded, further complicating pedestrian safety in the area.

"Everyone loves the cable cars,'' Fong added.

Copyright © 2006 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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