Grandstanding for SF pedestrian safety
- Published Tuesday, January 31, 2006, in the San Francisco Examiner
Supervisor joins call for Muni to prioritize safety
By Marisa Lagos
Supervisor Chris Daly joined a pedestrian advocacy group Monday at a
vigil for a woman killed by a cable car last week, an event
participants used to call on The City to pour more money into safety
Walk San Francisco, the advocacy group, also garnered the support of
Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Leland Yee and Supervisors Jake McGoldrick
and Tom Ammiano at their vigil for Joyce Wong Lam.
Lam, 76, a resident of North Beach for decades, was struck by a cable
car on Jan. 21 and died three days later from her injuries.
Walk SF President Emily Drennen said the fatal collision was Muni's
third since December. She called on the city agency to make
pedestrian safety a priority as it crafts its budget for fiscal year
2006-07, which begins on July 1.
[It is _entirely_ unclear to BATN how this unfortunate accident can be
blamed on Muni -- but we're neither lawyers nor politicians.]
The Municipal Transportation Agency board was presented a preliminary
budget on Jan. 17, but will begin considering a more detailed picture
at its Feb. 7 meeting.
"It's simply unacceptable that pedestrians in this city have to put
themselves at risk every time they cross the street," said Daly,
chairman of the Board of Supervisors Budget Committee. "The MTA needs
to prioritize pedestrian safety in this year's budget. I will not
accept an MTA budget without significant increases for pedestrian
Daly and the board will not have the power to change the MTA budget
themselves, however. The city charter only allows the Board of
Supervisors to approve or veto the entire document.
Drennen called on the mayor to use his political power to pressure the
MTA board. She noted that a lack of investment in pedestrian safety
could end up costing taxpayers more in the long run, pointing toward
an Examiner report that stated Muni had paid out $7.1 million in legal
claims and judgments in 2004-05 alone.
The MTA has spent millions of dollars on pedestrian improvements in
recent years, including traffic-calming measures and upgrades of
traffic and pedestrian signals.
Muni has also proposed at least $3.6 million in new funds to offer
more safety training to transit operators next year; it is not clear
how much the agency would budget for capital pedestrian improvements.