An alleged drunk driver killed a pedestrian on Masonic Avenue early Friday morning -- a week before the city held its scheduled hearing to discuss how to make the highly traveled street safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
The residential thoroughfare is unquestionably deadly. Three weeks ago, on the very same street, I witnessed a speeding driver blow through a red light, hitting a pedestrian. And nine months ago, a driver killed 21-year-old cyclist Nils Linke in a hit-and-run. Linke had been visiting from Germany.
"It's a wide, fast street that encourages speeding, and it's ultimately deadly for pedestrians," said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk San Francisco. The man killed last night was in the crosswalk.
She added: "When streets are designed in a way that is wide open, like Masonic,
drivers are given the signal that they can go very fast, much faster
than the speed limit says, and we need to fix that with traffic-calming
According to a police spokesman, 23-year-old Jose Jiminez was allegedly driving while inebriated at 2:30 a.m. on Friday. He banged into at least one car before striking the 55-year-old pedestrian, throwing him several feet in the air, and killing him. The driver continued his reckless rampage; he hit four cars before ramming into a St. Mary's Hospital cement planter.
Next Friday at 10 a.m., in City Hall room 416, the Department of Parking and Traffic officials will consider plans aimed to drastically slow drivers on Masonic Avenue.They want to install bike lanes, bus bulbouts, and a median strip planted with trees.
"When you put in just bike lanes, it makes streets safer for pedestrians because it narrows the visible roadway, calms traffic, and puts a buffer between cars and pedestrians," said Stampe, who lamented that her group has advocated for four years to fix Masonic Avenue, with no groundbreaking scheduled to date.
"I'm frustrated with how long it takes to fix streets we know are deadly. What I'm also frustrated with is how we don't see enforcement of laws that protect pedestrians. Where is the speed enforcement?" she asked.
Park Station Police Captain Denis O'Leary said that last month he ordered officers to increase traffic enforcement on Masonic Avenue after the speeding driver injured a pedestrian at Hayes Street. Now, after last night's incident, he said he's issuing the same order again, hoping it will help curb speeding drivers until the street can be improved.
"We did that after the collision in April. But here we are on May 6 and we have a fatal [accident]," O'Leary told SF Weekly.
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