By Dylan Fabris, SFTR Community and Policy Manager

On March 18th, San Franciscans came together to mourn the loss of a family in West Portal, where a father, mother, and two young sons were killed by a speeding driver while waiting for the bus.

Nobody should ever be killed on our streets, and while San Francisco has so far struggled to meet its goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities, the March 18th memorial seemed like it could be a turning point, as members from all corners of our community came together to honor the victims and reflect on the damage that traffic violence causes in our city. The air was heavy as parents, business owners, workers, advocates, and top brass from the City all mourned together, with what seemed like an understanding that we cannot allow such a senseless tragedy to repeat itself.

In the past, the City has been notoriously slow to take action following fatal pedestrian crashes. That’s why San Francisco Transit Riders was happy to hear that District 7 Supervisor Myrna Melgar and Mayor London Breed, along with the SFMTA, were proposing fast-tracked, common-sense changes to slow down private traffic in the intersections around West Portal Station where March’s crash occurred. We are disappointed that implementation of the plans is now being delayed following outcry from some merchants. Instead of a quick turnaround at the SFMTA Board, the new “Welcoming West Portal Committee” will meet over the next several months to further dissect the plans.

The changes being proposed in the plan are not particularly radical: Protection would be added to the bus stop where the crash occurred, certain turn restrictions would be implemented to reduce speed and confusion around the station’s busy crosswalks, and parts of the streetscape would be pedestrianized or turned into transit-only lanes, making it harder for cars to get up to the high speeds necessary to plow straight through a Muni bus shelter.

San Francisco Transit Riders applauds the speed at which these proposals were drafted by SFMTA and shared with the community, and calls for their implementation as soon as possible, and for future fatal crashes to be addressed with a similar level of urgency & infrastructure. The proposed changes in West Portal will slow traffic to lower the chance of crashes at one of San Francisco’s busiest transit hubs, and will provide tangible speed and reliability benefits to the thousands of people citywide who rely on the half-dozen transit lines that serve the corridor.

But while these proposals are a great start, they don’t go far enough. There are still several bus stops in the area where concrete protection is not being considered. And placing bus stops across the street from West Portal Station (rather than directly in front of it) still exposes people to the danger of crossing a busy street to catch their transit connection. To adequately protect people using one of the city’s busiest transit hubs, more changes must be considered beyond what is currently being proposed.

Read the full piece, with recommendations, here!