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How Dangerous Are SF’s Streets? New Map Pinpoints Traffic Fatalities
Monday, July 04, 2022

How Dangerous Are SF’s Streets? New Map Pinpoints Traffic Fatalities

Sheria Musyoka was jogging on Lake Merced Boulevard when a car fatally struck him. He was 26 years old and new to San Francisco, having moved to the city just eight days prior with his partner, Hannah Ege, and their 3-year-old Theo.

Musyoka was one of 27 people killed in traffic crashes in the city in 2021, and 230 people since 2014, when the city set a goal to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024. 

“It wasn't an accident,” Ege said. “It could have been very preventable.”

Musyoka’s death is marked as one of the blue dots in a constellation of local traffic fatalities mapped by Stephen Braitsch, an activist trying to honor those killed on San Francisco streets and hold the city accountable for their untimely deaths. Accompanying the map are photos of the victims with calls for more information about the ones who remain unidentified. 

Braitsch said he created the cartographical rendering of crashes to raise awareness about street safety, crowdsource information to get a fuller picture of victims and urge the city to take action. 

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency may have the same data, Braitsch said, “but they’re clearly not moving fast enough on it.”

Every time a car kills someone in San Francisco, the city sends a rapid-response team to investigate the collision site and see if it needs any design upgrades. Braitsch is working on a second phase of his mapping project to find out how often the city followed through on suggested street changes following a traffic death. He said he wants to drum up enough political pressure to spur the city and Board of Supervisors to do something about the deaths.

That call is shared by Ege. The city planned to improve pedestrian safety at Lake Merced Boulevard but had yet to implement any changes when Musyoka was killed.

“The roads just need to be fixed,” Ege said.

Sheria Musyoka, left, Hannah Ege, right, in 2021. Sheria was jogging on Lake Merced Boulevard when a car fatally struck him in 2021. | Courtesy Hannah Ege

Walk SF, a group dedicated to making San Francisco’s streets safer, has been working with the city on its Vision Zero plan, a blueprint to bring traffic death rates to zero in the next two years by improving safety at the city’s most dangerous intersections. Walk SF spokesperson Marta Lindsey said the city needs to double down on prevention if it’s serious about fixing those intersections before the 2024 deadline.

“We need to be ahead of the game with all of these dangerous streets,” she said.

The fatalities tell only one slice of the story, Lindsey added. 

In addition to the 30 or so traffic deaths recorded each year are more than 500 severe crashes that people sometimes narrowly survive. Lindsey said the city’s high-injury intersections deserve just as much scrutiny and attention as the ones that see an inordinate number of fatalities. 

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Another fact that deserves more awareness, she said, is just how deadly the roads are for the city’s elderly residents. While seniors make up 15% of San Francisco’s population, they comprise around half the city’s traffic fatalities.

“We should be designing our streets with those people first—and kids,” Lindsey said. 

Safety, she added, “shouldn't be a roll of the dice.”

Braitsch’s map launched this week to coincide with the Ride of Silence, a global event that honors people killed by cars. The vigil—one of hundreds throughout the nation—is scheduled for Thursday night in San Francisco. 

Lindsey said she hopes the project brings more people into Families for Safe Streets, a coalition of victims and people trying to make city streets safer. Even though Ege now lives in Philadelphia, they joined the group to channel their grief into action.

“What else am I supposed to do?” Ege asked. “There is not really any other option.”

Sarah Wright can be reached at [email protected].
  • I’m surprised the number of fatalities isn’t higher in the Western Addition/Fillmore area where people daily race around in muscle cars and dirt bikes (solo or in packs), often right by the Norther Police Station. Police do nothing, despite it being the same people who do it on a regular basis. Perhaps those bad actors are responsible for hit and runs elsewhere in the city. Sometimes, I wonder what the police actually do.

  • This is a multi faceted problem I am retired and out and about quite a bit in the city I see reckless driving everywhere not just from cars but bicycles too I’ve been attempting to make right turns with my signals on on and somebody on the right with a bicycle will pass me while I’m turning I see pedestrians casually walk out in the middle of the street without even bothering to look or they have a theirheads buried in their phones. When I’m a pedestrian I always try to make eye contact with vehicles that are turningwhen I am in the crosswalk appropriately. It’s fine to have the right away but too many people disregard road safety.

  • Failing to mention any of the detailed circumstances surrounding this particular tragedy is shockingly disingenuous. Of all the traffic fatalities in the city, you chose to highlight this one in an article about street safety? This was not a traffic accident, and no amount of street safety improvements would have prevented something like this from occurring. Mr. Musyoka was killed by a career criminal (Jerry Lyons) who was speeding in a stolen car while under the influence. He was on post-release community supervision in connection with a previous grand theft conviction at the time. Ms. Ege later appeared on 60 Minutes and blamed the District Attorney for protecting criminals instead of citizens. This tragedy was a criminal justice failure, not a traffic safety matter.

  • When bicycle riders stop continually running red lights and stop signs in the city, we’ll see a change in bike fatalities. This has been going on for years. Like many others in SF, I’ve lost any sympathy I had for the Bicycle Coalition… they’re an entitled, self-righteous group of people who are constantly claiming to be victims.

  • When pedestrians stop walking into traffic while gaping at their cell phones instead of looking around
    When bicyclists learn to obey red lights, stop signs, and one-way street signs
    When pedestrians in dark clothing stop jaywalking at night
    When scooter riders, skateboarders, and bicyclists stop riding on the sidewalk
    When the intolerant anti-car organizations admit that clueless or arrogant behavior by pedestrians and bicyclists cause most “car fatalities”
    ….I’ll be a lot more concerned about the supposed problem of “unsafe streets”.

  • There is definitely an anti car group in San Francisco skewing the dialog and in control of the Govt dialog. How about these same people talk about the 700 homeless deaths in San Francisco. They don’t care about this because all they want is the complete control of the people in SF. If the Govt controls transportation, they control you. How about STOP, LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE YOU STEP OFF THE CURB. It worked when I grew up here.

  • 42,915 traffic deaths in the United States in 2021. I get that drivers are frustrated (comments about bikes and pedestrians), but traffic deaths have been out of control forever.

  • So sad, but notice the lack of incidents on JFK. I am confused, wasn’t it supposed to have been a “high injury corridor?”

  • We have eyeballs and ear drums that can protect us if we use them. Most of us are living proof that if we use them, we can stay alive. Yes, we need to deal with reckless drivers, but they will be reckless no matter how much effort the City puts into “safety” measures. And there’s no mention of the percentage of deaths where the victims are highly intoxicated and simply walk in front of cars. I’m all for safety, but this discussion is highly skewed to make drivers appear to be the culprits, and fails to look at the overall picture.

  • Fatalities are not always, nor solely the fault of drivers.
    It would also be nice to see the number of bicycle/pedestrian fatalities called out.
    We ALL need to take personal responsibility. The difference between NYC and SF is New Yorkers realize they live with others and are aware of, and reactive to, their surroundings.

  • I moved here from NY a looong time ago, and was immediately struck by how very different was the street mindset of pedestrians, bikers and drivers. Seemed to me that New Yorkers/New Englanders were much more aware of the “other,” constantly wary of what- or whomever might cross their paths. Not so out here, and it results in some desperately oblivious behavior. I did note at the time however that drivers here were more generous, gracious even. The ones that noticed you anyway.
    I’m not convinced it’s worth the tradeoff.
    After sustaining a wicked smash to the leg 3 years ago, I’m hyper vigilant out there. Drives my wife nuts, but I’m determined not to go down again. With phones and electronics demanding so much of our attention, being on the street seems more perilous than ever. Trauma talking, I know. Heads/ears/eyes up people.

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