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SF traffic deaths surge past 2018 count already

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Saturday tragedy at Fifth and Market adds to grim total

A stop sign at a San Francisco intersection. Via Shutterstock

On Saturday night, a 79-year-old San Francisco woman died after being hit by a car at Fifth and Market. Supervisor Matt Haney, tweeting from the scene, blamed a taxi cab and said that he was “devastated and furious” over the death in his district.

That would be a grim occasion at any time, but this latest traffic fatality is particularly bad news for the city’s ongoing Vision Zero plan to eliminate vehicle-related deaths on city-owned streets in just five years, because this means that SF has already suffered as many traffic deaths in 2019 as it did all last year combined.

Right now, the city’s official Vision Zero report card site records 21 fatalities. However, that figure hasn’t updated since July, and SF Weekly points out that the official total does not yet reflect another death, when a truck hit a man using a walker at Mason and Eddy.

That incident and this latest one together mean that the city is at 23 for the year, which is already the same number as SF suffered in all of 2018.

This is also unfortunately worse than all of 2017, which saw 20 deaths the entire year. That was a relatively low count, as the previous years’ climbed to 32 in 2016 and 31 in both 2015 and 2014.

In July SF was already well ahead of the curve on traffic deaths, as the 21 fatalities in the current official count are more than had happened in July of 2018 (just ten), 2017 (nine), 2015 (17) and 2014 (16).

Only in 2016 were things worse than they already are this year; that year SF suffered 22 traffic deaths by this time.

It was just in February that City Hall released an updated plan to eliminate such fatalities by 2024, but two more people died within 24 hours.

In the new Vision Zero plan, Mayor London Breed pointed out that “just 13 percent of San Francisco’s streets account for 75 percent of the city’s severe traffic injuries and fatalities”—including Fifth and Mission.

In May, Tom Maguire, San Francisco’s director of sustainable streets, singled out ten dangerous intersections in SF that the city hopes to redesign to prevent future deaths, although at the time only the first was complete:

  • Howard Street between 3rd and 6th
  • Townsend Street between 3rd and 8th
  • 6th Street between Market and Folsom
  • 5th Street between Market and Townsend
  • Brannan Street between the Embarcadero and 9th
  • Taylor Street between Market and Sutter
  • Alemany Boulevard near Bayshore
  • California Street between Arguello and 18th
  • Indiana Street between 24th and Cesar Chavez
  • Terry Francois Boulevard between Mariposa and Mission Bay Boulevard

Note that Vision Zero only concerns city-owned streets and not state byways, so freeway accidents don’t usually contribute to the total.