Horrible Week for Vision Zero Casts Shadow over S.F.

A 96-year-old pedestrian is the eighth person harmed in a serious traffic collision within the past week.

(Courtesy photo)

A 96-year-old man was struck by a driver in West Portal Monday morning, marking the eighth person —and sixth pedestrian — harmed in a traffic-related incident in a week.

A driver struck the elderly pedestrian on Vincente Street and West Portal Avenue near the Muni station around 11:20 a.m. and cooperated with authorities. The 96-year-old man was transported to the hospital, according to police spokesperson Officer Joseph Tomlinson. 

Monday’s incident marked the eighth serious traffic collision in the past week. Three pedestrians were struck, including one fatally, on Tuesday evening and another four collisions occurred on Friday. SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin even issued a statement on Saturday calling the latter “a tragic day on our streets.”

“Our Vision Zero goal means that we never treat these crashes as mere accidents,” Reiskin said.  “Rather, they are a wakeup call to recommit ourselves to ending traffic fatalities on our streets.” 

The wakeup calls this week are numerous. At least one person died on Friday around 7 p.m., when two vehicles crashed head-on at John McLaren Park. The driver of a Chevrolet, 44-year-old Gerard Graybosch, died at the scene at Mansell Street and Visitacion Avenue while the other driver experienced chest pains. Graybosch is listed as a graduate assistant in exercise physiology at San Francisco State University. 

Around the same time, a driver struck a pedestrian at Jackson and Divisadero Streets. Another pedestrian hit on Friday around 12:30 p.m. is in critical condition after a driver struck the 38-year-old man on the 200 block of Woodside Avenue. (Contrary to initial reports, the man is not deceased.)

The other person facing serious injuries is a wrong-way driver who struck a tree around 1:50 a.m. on the first block of Leavenworth Street, near the Civic Center BART station.

That just covers Friday. On Tuesday evening, three pedestrians were struck within three hours of one another. Zhao Guan, 64, was walking at 18th Avenue and California Street when a driver fatally struck her and fled around 8 p.m. Police are seeking public assistance in finding the driver.

Two-and-a-half hours later, a 47-year-old was pinned by the driver of a large box truck and dragged half a block at First and Howard streets. He was sent to the hospital with critical injuries. Within the same few minutes, a driver struck a 64-year-old woman on California and Polk streets and fled. 

All in all, the last week breaks down to two deaths, three people with critical injuries, and among five pedestrians and three drivers harmed on San Francisco streets. Before last week, two Vision Zero deaths of Lucy Morales and Nancy Ng — both 84-year-old pedestrians — occurred in 2019 so far. There were 23 Vision Zero deaths in 2018 but year after year, seniors are disproportionately victims of serious or fatal collisions in San Francisco. 

Just last Thursday, the SFMTA released its updated Vision Zero Action Strategy that targeted high injury corridors. While traffic safety advocate group Walk SF praised the plan, it called on Mayor London Breed to continue bold leadership to fast-track street improvements.

“Changes to California Street follow the exact same pattern we have seen for safety projects across the city: they either don’t go far enough or they don’t move fast enough – or both,” wrote Jodie Medeiros, referring to Guan’s death. “The strategy includes many of the must-have ingredients to end traffic violence. Yet making this strategy a reality will undoubtedly require your leadership.

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