A San Diego city councilman is calling on the mayor to fast-track a traffic safety study along Adams Avenue in Normal Heights. The call comes less than a week after a driver struck and seriously injured a woman walking her dog.
“I was just beside myself when we heard about the story,” District 3 Councilman Chris Ward said.
Last Thursday night, 25-year-old Kerri O'Farrell walked her neighbor’s dog across Adams Avenue along 34th Street when a car struck her. The impact killed the dog instantly and sent O'Farrell to the hospital in critical condition.
Ward believes the whole thing was preventable.
“She’s fighting for her life,” Ward said. “This is a young mother of three that we are all praying is going to be able to pull through for the holidays. This was avoidable and it should not have occurred."
Now the councilman wants a comprehensive traffic safety review of the entire business corridor along Adams Avenue – from Hamilton Street to 40th Street.
“I don’t want the next accident to happen a block away because we did not study that street,” Ward said.
Circulate San Diego (CSD) helps advocate for the city’s Vision Zero goal – which aims to eliminate traffic-related deaths by 2025. CSD Policy Director Maya Rosas backs the councilman’s request for a safety review.
“People know that it’s dangerous,” Rosas said. “People feel that it’s dangerous, because you have to dodge cars to cross the street in a commercial area. This is definitely the right step to take to make sure we do something.”
Folks who live in Normal Heights echo those sentiments.
“You have to be really careful,” resident Cynthia Webb said. “It’s scary.”
Locals call the recent accident tragic - but not shocking.
“It’s not surprising because people fly by all the time,” Aaron Lamot said. “When I’m standing and I even hit the warning light, people still fly by.”
Even when pedestrians use the lighted crosswalks, they say they’re afraid to cross Adams Avenue.
“Lots of people don’t pay attention to the blinking crosswalks,” Webb said.
“You still have to stick your head out and make sure that they completely stop,” Lamot said.
They’d like to see more stop signs and maybe also some streetlights - Ward included both of those ideas in a list of suggested emergency public safety improvements.
“That would be really great for the community,” Webb said.
Their neighborhood is already walkable – these folks say they just want it to be safe too.
“We walk a lot of places,” Webb said. “That’s why we love living here.”
In the meantime, they’ll keep rolling the dice when they cross the street.
“Like the game Frogger back in the 80s,” Lamot joked.
Rosas points out there are only three spots along Adams where drivers must stop for an intersection with a traffic light.
“Pedestrians are not going to walk a quarter mile to cross the street at an intersection with a signal,” Rosas said. “They’re going to cross at the nearest corner. So, it’s important for the city to make the streets safe at every single intersection.”
While she supports Ward’s call for a traffic study and emergency public safety upgrades, Rosas said the city needs to make a larger public safety investment city-wide - not just in hot spots with high numbers of dangerous crashes.
“Unfortunately people keep dying on our streets and it’s preventable,” Rosas said. “If the airline industry can do that, then so can we. Zero is the only acceptable goal.”