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San Franciscans mourn those killed and injured in traffic crashes, say more needs to be done

Dozens of people came together for a somber gathering Sunday night at San Francisco City Hall, with attendees wearing yellow scarves and carrying yellow flowers as they remembered the people who had been killed and injured in traffic crashes across the city.

Advocates at the vigil said despite some recent improvements, the city is still falling short of a major goal.

The gathering marked the passing of the internationally recognized World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims. San Francisco city leaders, state elected officials, and loved ones of victims came together to grieve. The group left nearly 300 yellow flowers on the steps of City Hall, which advocacy organization Walk SF says represents the nearly 300 people who have been killed in traffic crashes in San Francisco since 2014.

Back in 2014, San Francisco committed to Vision Zero, the goal of zero traffic deaths or severe injuries in the city.

“What hasn’t changed is our streets are still killing people every single day or severely injuring people,” said Jenny Yu of San Francisco.

Yu attended the vigil Sunday, holding a poster bearing her mother’s face.

Yu explained that her mother, Judy Szeto Yuen Man Yu, was walking in the Richmond District in 2011 when her life changed forever.  

“A car was speeding and turning left and struck her. Her body flew to the other side of the road,” Yu said weeping as she shared the details of what her mom experienced.

Yu’s mom survived, but now lives with severe traumatic brain injury, cognitive impairment, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Since the crash, Yu has become her mother’s full-time caregiver.

“Clearly, we have not achieved Vision Zero,” said San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu, who also attended the vigil Sunday. “We are not at zero, we have so much work that we need to do.”

As San Francisco approaches a decade of commitment to Vision Zero, many leaders are wondering what else needs to happen to reduce traffic deaths to zero.

Chiu believes some help is coming soon with a new California law that will bring automated speed cameras to some California cities. Chiu said that in his prior job as a California State Assembly member, he began working towards this legislation in 2017 at the request of victims’ families.

Chui said he was the original author of the speed-enforcement bill, and after several unsuccessful attempts to get the bill passed, his colleagues in the Legislature were able to get it signed into law during the last session.

“Starting next year, San Francisco will be able to implement a pilot along with five other cities, and we’ll see that this will save lives,” Chiu said.

Jenny Yu said that in her network of families who have lost loved ones to traffic violence, the news of these new automated speed cameras is encouraging.

“We need to hold on to hope and the different steps of progress that we have made to keep ourselves going,” she said.

But she also argues that policymakers and community members need to do much more to stop these injuries and deaths.

“We need to make more streets, especially in San Francisco, walk-friendly, public transit viable,” she emphasized.

Advocacy organization Walk SF said that the nearly 300 flowers left on the steps of San Francisco City Hall represent the nearly 300 people who have been killed in traffic crashes since 2014 in San Francisco. November 19, 2023. NBC Bay Area Photo/ Alyssa Goard.

Source: NBC Bay Area

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