Pedestrian and cyclist deaths are preventable. Let’s make it happen.
I am lucky enough to have grown up all over our beautiful city. My mom was a renter and that meant we lived everywhere from the Richmond District to Bernal Heights. I remember in 4th grade having a friend who only had one pair of roller skates, but she’d give me one, she’d take the other and we’d skate all over our neighborhood until our parents came home. Sometimes, I walked to school or down Clement Street to go shopping with my sister. I spent hours exploring our city and taking in all that it had to offer. Unfortunately, one day while walking home from the corner store I was hit by a car when crossing the street at the corner of 24th and California. I was one of the lucky ones, I wasn’t seriously injured and I made a full recovery. But now, as a mother of three daughters and a daughter of a senior citizen, I am reminded daily of the concern that many of us feel when our family walks out the door. I want my daughters and all children to feel safe growing up here in San Francisco.
My mom, my cousin and me.
Just a few weeks ago, I had another personal and painful reminder that unfortunately this is still not the case. An incredible young person was killed while crossing the street with her mother near Lake Merced. She played soccer with my eldest daughter, and their team, the Westside Waves wanted to take action. She and her teammates presented letters to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors outlining immediate safety improvements at the intersection where their friend was killed. Their thoughtfulness and poise in the face of grief inspires me.
Our streets can be safe, shared public spaces where walkers, cyclists, passengers and motorists alike can move from one place to the other. To make that our reality, there is more for us to do. And it’s going to take all of us doing more to enforce our laws, re-engineering some of our streets, and educating each other on what we can do to keep each other safe.
We are so lucky to have beautiful bike paths. We must ensure our streets and paths are safe for walking and bicycling.
As President of the San Francisco Police Commission, I was an early proponent of Vision Zero, and as your next District Attorney, I will continue fighting for the safety of everyone using our streets. I have partnered with the leadership of WalkSF and the San Francisco Bike Coalition for years, and I know that activists and advocates are vital partners in ensuring that street design, enforcement, and policy reforms reduce and ultimately eliminate deaths caused by traffic incidents.
I authored the Safe Streets for All Resolution that ensured that SFPD dramatically stepped up traffic enforcement. In 2014, we increased the number of citations by 54% and pioneered a data-driven enforcement approach to target the top five violations most likely to cause harm or injury to others. Moreover, at the urging of our advocate partners, we ended the practice of calling collisions “accidents.” To continue to keep a focus on preventing harm and improving safety, we required improved data collection practices and established more frequent and transparent reporting to the Commission. We increased SFPD presence in the most high injury corridors with visible enforcement operations so that members of our community most prone to injury were safe to walk and bike. We also worked with the community leaders in Chinatown who had traffic and safety concerns, SFPD and others to intentionally slow the traffic coming out of the Broadway tunnel, located near many senior centers.
Enjoying bike to school day
Too often our reforms and policy changes are in response to tragedy. We know there are improvements to make but the pain of the collisions and incidents compel us to move faster and make our streets safer.
The key word here is “we.” Our next District Attorney can’t do it alone. It’s going to take all of us bringing our best ideas forward to make our streets safe for everyone.
I want our agencies, elected leaders, and community partners to work collaboratively before another person is injured or killed in San Francisco. I have seen how much can change in a short time, but it’s a matter of priority. And as we continue to see heartbreaking incidents on our streets, I am even more committed to preventing these tragedies from happening across our city.
As your District Attorney, the chief elected law enforcement official, I will:
- Direct all staff to apply the same prosecutorial scrutiny for deaths caused by traffic violations that is applied to deaths caused by other violent means.
- Ensure that families of victims are heard and treated with respect by all law enforcement agencies and provided the opportunity to offer their input regarding the prosecution of these cases. Where they are willing, our office will facilitate restoration and reconciliation with other impacted parties in the communities.
Deepen the DA’s involvement with fatality analysis and strategy revisions by Vision Zero and the SF County Transportation Authority to refine enforcement efforts that support the goals of Vision Zero.
- Establish a consensus among all stakeholders of Vision Zero for guidelines to refer and divert misdemeanor level offenses to neighborhood courts for community adjudication with an emphasis on incidents in high injury corridors.
- Provide communities with ample outreach and education prior to enforcement operations to signal clearly that the intent of enforcement is to increase understanding of existing laws, to enhance prevention and to increase safety awareness.
- Work with Vision Zero stakeholders to develop notification and response protocols that provide communities with consistent release of public information when critical incidents occur.
- Direct the DA’s office to provide transparent reporting of enforcement outcomes including where cases are recommended for diversion, restorative justice and alternative sentencing decisions.
We must not wait. As your next District Attorney, I will prioritize working together to achieve Vision Zero and ensure that we are all safe to enjoy our City’s beautiful streets.