February 12, 2016

Increase in Pedestrian Deaths Leads to Call for Safer Streets

By La Prensa San Diego

By Alexandra Mendoza

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A regional nonprofit is asking the City of San Diego to take action in response to the 54 deaths, a 17% increase in comparison to the previous year, involving pedestrians and cyclists in San Diego streets last year,.
Circulate San Diego’s “Vision Zero” strategy calls for better street design, safer sidewalks, and more traffic lights and other traffic calming projects, given that speeding is a key factor in these types of accidents.

The project also asks for city funds to be allocated for a community education campaign on this important topic.“In San Diego, we should be safe no matter where we are going or how we want to get there. Unfortunately, last year was one of the deadliest for San Diegans on city streets,” stated Kathleen Ferrier, Director of Circulate San Diego, during a press conference. “We could save lives through safe street design, education, and enforcement,” she added.

One such victim was Jaime Leonen, age 29, who died in September, 2015 after being run over on Health Center Drive in Kearny Mesa. Since the driver was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, no charges were filed.

“Every time I go by that street I think of my children, but also of Jaime and of how he died there due to lack of safety,” expressed Nicole Leon, a friend of Leonen’s who remembers him as a happy guy who was always in a good mood.
According to the non-profit’s data, the most dangerous streets in the city are University Avenue, Fifth Avenue & Broadway, and Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach.

The initiative is also seeking the creation of more bike lanes, as the number of people riding to work is on the rise.
“We cannot continue losing our loved ones due to a situation that is completely preventable,” voiced Samantha Ollinger, Executive Director of Bike SD.

To raise awareness, this coalition of activists recently placed 54 pairs of shoes in front of City Hall in remembrance of each of the traffic accident victims lost
last year.

Although Vision Zero has already garnered councilmember support, the group wants funding to be allocated to these infrastructure changes in order to protect pedestrians and cyclists.

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