A coalition of pedestrian friendly advocates are holding a rally on Friday morning at San Francisco City Hall to protest "traffic violence," after a 51-year-old jogger was killed by a bus the day before.
Organizers from a group called "Vision Zero" are asking people to bring flowers, gifts and shoes that can be painted to create a memorial after Lori Helmer of San Francisco was fatally struck by a Golden Gate Transit bus about 6:15 a.m. at Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street.
The driver had an "excellent safety" record, according to agency spokeswoman Priya Clemens, and was very "shaken up" after the death. The standard drug and alcohol tests the driver took have not returned, Clemens said Friday morning, and he is expected to be on "paid leave" during the investigation. He had 35 years on the job with no disciplinary actions against him.
This is the bus agency's first death since 2002, Clemens said. That's when a car crashed into the back of a bus.
Vision Zero organizers said Helmer became San Francisco's 28th person this year to die in any type of traffic collision. Of that number, organizers said 18 were killed while on foot.
"We don't like to use the word accidents," said Walk SF spokeswoman Nicole Schneider. "They're collisions that are all preventable."
She doesn't know exactly what happened in the case of this bus driver, but in general, she said most drivers don't look in the crosswalk when they're turning left, and most aren't going slow enough to be able to stop in time.
"We have a very walkful city with great access to shops and markets," she said. "But in order to get there, you have to risk your life."
The advocates cite Tuesday's passing of Prop. A, a $500 million bond measure to redesign the streets, add bike lanes and update traffic signals, and Prop. B , which boosts the Muni budget to $22 million in 2015, to show that there is now more money to address these traffic issues. They also point to San Franciscans rejecting Prop. L, which would have forced the city to provide more free parking.
Vision Zero in San Francisco is modeling its efforts after groups in Sweden, Chicago and New York. The goal is to eliminate all traffic deaths in San Francisco in the next 10 years.
The group is comprised of the South of Market Community Action Network, Senior and Disability Action, Chinatown Community Development Center, Central City SRO, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, and other community groups.