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80-Year-Old Man Becomes First San Francisco Pedestrian Fatality of 2020

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A senior citizen was struck by a vehicle Friday morning and later died, becoming the first pedestrian fatality of the year.

The medical examiner identified the victim as 80-year-old David Chow, of San Francisco, and confirmed he was struck at the intersection of O’Farrell and Polk streets.

The San Francisco Police Department did not provide any details about the crash, but in a statement Friday said the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and was cooperating with investigators.

“Details of the crash are slim, and we’re trying to figure out what happened at the intersection,” said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy group. “It’s our first pedestrian death for the year.”

The SFMTA is investigating “daylighting” the O’Farrell Street approach, a pedestrian safety measure where parking is reduced within 10 feet of an intersection to increase driver visibility, according to SFMTA spokesperson Erica Kato. In recent months, SFMTA has also introduced more redlight cameras to the city, and banned private vehicles on large swaths of Market Street.

Medeiros called on SFMTA to do more to protect pedestrians in crosswalks, such as implementing a city-wide no-turn-on-red.

San Francisco established the Vision Zero project in 2014 with the goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities by 2024. But there were 29 traffic-related deaths in 2019, including 18 pedestrians (an official count doesn’t include two pedestrians who were killed on highways under Caltrans jurisdiction). That’s a regression from 2018 (23 deaths) and 2017 (20 deaths). Last year got bad enough that the Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency concerning the situation in November.

“San Francisco must take immediate, sweeping action to address the very real and very serious safety concerns of people walking and biking in our city,” said Supervisor Matt Haney, at the time. “With the passing of this resolution, we reaffirm the promise we made as part of Vision Zero to eliminate injuries and deaths on our roadway.”

Chow’s death follows a trend: Seniors are disproportionately victims of fatal collisions.Earlier this month, between Feb. 9 and Feb. 15, five other pedestrians were struck in three separate incidents, with four of them facing life threatening injuries.

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Michael Toren

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