Pedestrian death marks first of ’10 

San Francisco recorded its first pedestrian fatality Thursday when a driver hit and killed a woman in a crosswalk along a busy residential road near West Portal.

At about 6:23 p.m. Wednesday, 54-year-old Feng Zhu of San Francisco was walking north on Sloat Boulevard near Forest View Drive when she was hit and killed in an unlit crosswalk, according to police. The driver, a 68-year-old San Francisco man who police would not identify, was not arrested.

Zhu was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, where she died at about 3:15 a.m. Thursday, police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said.

Williams wouldn’t comment on whether the driver was speeding, saying the accident is “still under investigation.”

Meanwhile, local pedestrians said Thursday’s accident was a sobering reminder that The City is behind the curve when it comes to making San Francisco a safe place to walk.

“I’m saddened,” said Manish Champsee, president of Walk SF, a pedestrian safety advocacy group. “The City has to invest in pedestrian safety to avoid these kinds of tragedies.”

He warned drivers to be more alert during these winter months when it gets darker earlier in the day, making it difficult to see pedestrians in areas that aren’t lit.

San Francisco police were unable to release current statistics on pedestrian accidents. Thursday’s death happened almost two months after Transportation for America, a coalition of transit, housing and planning groups, released a study showing that 27 percent of all traffic deaths in the San Francisco region were pedestrians. That number includes Oakland and Fremont.

In 2008, there were 72 pedestrian fatalities in the San Francisco region, up from 64 in 2007, according to the study.

 

Deadly walks

How the San Francisco region stacks up to other major metropolitan areas when it comes to pedestrian deaths:

City*    2007    2008

New York    316    317
Los Angeles    247    244
Miami    178    151
Tampa, Fla.    98    94
San Francisco    64    72

* Metropolitan areas

Source: Transportation for America

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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