Any San Franciscan worth their salt knows the dangers of traversing the sidewalks in the Tenderloin. Now, however, certain streets in the historically troubled neighborhood could soon be free of any automobiles if a supervisor gets his way.
The Tenderloin — home to a rich arts scene, a diverse array of eateries and watering holes, and city newcomers seeking-out the cheapest studios and SROs—often makes headlines for fatal car collisions with walking bodies. But, SF Supervisor Matt Haney wholly supports one sweeping solution to solve the problem, courtesy of a community proposal: Remove the cars from the troubled neighborhood, entirely.
“I’m aware this was on the table. I’m definitely for it,” Haney, who represents the neighborhood, told the Examiner’s Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez. Haney also added that he was “really inspired” to pursue the idea further after witnessing the calm (and car-free) atmosphere at last week’s Sunday Streets.
"The city has been talking about making some streets, not all streets, car-free and we want to Tenderloin to be at the top of that list," Haney added, per NBC Bay Area, in response to Friday's related protest, where demonstrators held the names of people killed on the streets in the Tenderloin and discussed solutions. Calls to add “speed bumps” and other like-minded initiatives could be heard coming from the crowds.
The 'Loin has many streets that are a part of what the city calls its High-Injury Network, organized by the SFDPH (San Francisco Public Department of Health) and other agencies as part of the Vision Zero traffic safety initiative. The Tenderloin is home to more than 70 percent of the traffic injuries and fatalities reported in the network and, a quick look of the published Vision Zero maps shows a sizable amount of those high-injury streets snake right through both the Tenderloin and TenderNob areas.
The hope is that there will, sooner rather than later, be designated “car-free” zones in the two areas, helping thwart further traffic-related deaths and injuries.
This Tuesday alone, a 12-year-old boy was almost killed by an inebriated driver steering through Leavenworth Street and Golden Gate Avenue; 58-year-old Janice Higashi was hit by a car in that very same intersection this past March and died from her injuries five days later in a local hospital.
“The majority of pedestrians killed this year were in a crosswalk when they were hit,” said the executive director of Walk San Francisco, Jodie Medeiros, in a statement, published by the SF Examiner, regarding the recent slew of traffic injuries. “What kind of city can San Francisco claim to be when people can’t cross the street safely?”
Haney has gone on record to say that he's working with the SFMTA to get the ball rolling on these car-free zones to improve traffic safety in the Tenderloin, although one can easily predict a lot of pushback from area businesses.
Photo: Courtesy of Flickr, via Ken Lund