Group rallies to make San Diego streets safer

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SAN DIEGO -- Two-thousand fifteen was one of the deadliest years for pedestrian deaths in San Diego, and a local group is working to bring attention to the growing problem.

Circulate San Diego rallied Tuesday in an effort to get Mayor Kevin Faulconer to fund its program in fiscal year 2017.

The event began with a reading of the names of those killed by cars last year. Fifty-four pairs of shoes, representing each life lost, lined the steps of City Hall.

Last year saw an increase of 17 percent over 2014, which, until that point, had been the deadliest year in decades. In all, 200 people were either killed or seriously injured.

In November, the city council adopted a "Vision Zero" resolution to get to zero traffic deaths by 2025. Faulconer supports the initiative, but the executive director of Circulate San Diego says that is not enough.

“We want to make sure we see investment in safer streets because it won’t happen unless we spend money on this program,” said Kathleen Ferrier, director of advocacy for Circulate San Diego.

The initiative calls for education, engineering and enforcement. It includes easy fixes like lights, signage and crosswalks. But for busy streets like El Cajon Boulevard, which saw 20 pedestrian-involved crashes -- the most in San Diego -- they’re calling for a much broader solution.

“Not just an improvement at an intersection here or there, but we want to see half-a-mile, a mile-long, on the corridor to make the whole thing safe,” Ferrier said.

“He can be your brother, your uncle or -- like us -- our good friend,” said Nicole Leon, whose family friend Jamee Leonen was struck and killed in September as he tried to cross a four-lane street at night.

“I don’t think anyone was at fault,” said Leon, “I think it was the circumstances -- that there needs to be some sort of cross walk in front of a hospital for women and infants.”