So Far, 2019 Vision Zero Deaths Outpace 2018

Eight people have been killed in traffic collisions on city streets since the year began.

(Courtesy photo)

The death of another pedestrian by a driver marks the eighth Vision Zero death in 2019, four times the amount that occurred by the end of March 2018

Janice Higashi, 58, succumbed to her injuries days after a driver struck her as crossed Leavenworth near Golden Gate Avenue on March 5. Friends remembered the Outer Sunset resident as a prankster who was full of life, the Chronicle reports.

Higashi’s death follows Friday’s fatal cyclist collision that killed 30-year-old Tess Rothstein. The Berkeley resident was riding a Ford GoBike on Howard and Fifth — where there are no protected bike lanes — when she swerved to avoid the open door of a parked car and was crushed by a white box truck. Rothstein was mourned online by former Medium and Airbnb coworkers, who described her has selfless and curious.

San Francisco saw several serious and deadly collisions in the weeks even before Rothstein’s death. Last Wednesday, Mayor London Breed directed the SFTMA to develop a policy to speed up near-term changes like painted buffers and sidewalk extensions. She also asked the SFPD to increase enforcement around high-injury corridors and the San Francisco Public Utility Commission to install better lighting in dark areas to increase visibility on the roads.

“The current pace of traffic safety improvements in San Francisco is unacceptable and I refuse to allow red tape and bureaucracy to stop us from taking immediate, common-sense steps to improve safety while we undergo long-term improvements,” Breed said last week. “Every life lost on our streets is one too many.”

This year’s first Vision Zero death on New Year’s Day, when a driver struck pedestrian Lucy Morales on Haight and Stanyan streets. The 84-year-old San Francisco resident was transported to the hospital, where she died.

By Jan. 28, another 84-year-old pedestrian was fatally struck by a driver. Nancy Ng crossed the road at 46th Avenue and Cabrillo Street in the Richmond District and also died at the hospital.

Morales and Ng serve as another reminder that seniors are disproportionately impacted by traffic collisions. Though they make up 15 percent of the city’s population, they accounted for 35 percent of the 23 Vision Zero deaths in 2018. (Vision Zero accounts for deaths on city streets, which don’t include highways.)

February also saw two Vision Zero deaths. Matilde Cheng, 78, hit a pole on Blanken Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard and succumbed to her injuries on Feb. 9.

The next death occurred on Feb. 26, when a driver fatally struck 64-year-old Zhao Guan. Police initially sought public information to catch the driver who fled California Street and 18th Avenue. Guan was on her way to babysit her grandchildren.

A few days later, 36-year-old Jose Manuel Haros Carrasco was fatally hit by a driver on the 200 block of Woodside Avenue. That same day, two vehicles collided head-on at John McLaren Park, on Mansell Street and Visitacion Avenue. The crash killed 44-year-old Gerard Graybosch, who was listed as a graduate assistant in exercise physiology at San Francisco State University. 

The deaths of Rothstein and Higashi would soon follow.

Though the SFMTA moved to install signs prohibiting parking on Howard Street where Rothstein died, the transportation agency was criticized by groups like Walk SF and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for acting swiftly when outsized attention to a cyclist’s death knocks at their door.

“Look at what the SFMTA is capable of when they want to be,” Walk SF tweeted in response to the no parking signs. “We need this kind of action on ALL of the city’s deadliest streets, and to where five pedestrians have been killed in crashes this year.”

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