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Group seeks fix to dangerous San Francisco intersections after elderly man killed in Mission District

Mission Bay residents say intersection where 4-year-old girl was killed is a constant danger for ped
SF Mission Bay residents say intersection where 4-year-old girl was killed is unsafe 04:30

An 80-year-old man who died after being struck by a vehicle in San Francisco's Mission District on Wednesday has been identified by the city's Medical Examiner's Office as Jian Huang.

Huang, a San Francisco resident, died after a collision reported around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the area of 18th and Valencia Streets, where officers found him unconscious, police said. He was taken to a hospital but later succumbed to his injuries.

In the wake of the collision, advocates with the pedestrian safety group Walk San Francisco are reiterating their call for the city to make safety improvements to around 900 intersections on what it calls the city's "high-injury network," roughly 12 percent of San Francisco streets where more than two-thirds of its severe and fatal traffic collisions occur.

Action plan urged

The group wants city leaders to create a detailed, publicly available plan within 60 days for how the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will meet its commitment to fix the intersections that have yet to receive any safety improvements by the end of 2024.

There have been 14 pedestrian deaths in San Francisco so far in 2023.

Walk SF and the San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets -- a group of survivors and family members of those severely injured or killed in traffic crashes -- said they will support the friends and loved ones of Huang however possible.

"Our hearts go out to this man's loved ones and community," Walk SF executive director Jodie Medeiros said in a statement Thursday. "We grieve for yet another life lost so senselessly on our streets."

The group said they will bring their call to members of the Board of Supervisors next week, when the SFMTA will present an assessment of the 900 intersections to the board at its Tuesday meeting.

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman will also hold a hearing on Thursday next week on SFPD traffic enforcement, which Walk SF said is at "historic low" levels.

Looking at left turns

Initial details of the crash indicate an SUV driver was making a left turn onto Valencia Street from 18th and hit the victim in the crosswalk.

Pedestrian safety advocates say left turns are especially dangerous because drivers are more likely to make them at a higher speed and cut corners due to a wider radius than with a right turn.

Visibility is also reduced for drivers because the car's frame blocks a driver's view when they are making a left turn, advocates said.

This week's collision is not the first time this year that an older adult was killed by a vehicle on Valencia Street. On Jan. 10, Wan Mei Tan, a 64-year-old woman, was fatally hit at 16th and Valencia streets by a driver making a left turn.

A recent redesign of Valencia Street banned left turns from Valencia, but left turns are still allowed onto Valencia.

"Thousands of people walk on and cross Valencia Street every day," said Medeiros. "While the city has been investing in meaningful changes on Valencia, it has to go farther."

Both Valencia and 18th streets are on the city's high-injury network. Many recent crashes have involved large vehicles like SUVs, which are heavier, more powerful and hit people higher on their body, making them more likely to kill, according to Walk SF.

"The city has to take this into account in designing and enforcing streets that slow down vehicles even more to compensate for this," Medeiros said.

In a bid to address pedestrian deaths in the state, Assembly Bill 645 would allow six California cities, including San Francisco, to pilot the use of speed cameras. The bill is awaiting approval by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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