Why Seniors, Disability Community Oppose Prop L

by Hene Kelly and Jonathan Lyens on October 31, 2014

Streets are the lifeblood of a City, yet for many seniors and people with disabilities streets are also their lifeline to food, family and medicine.

That’s why we oppose Proposition L.

Proposition L, which will overhaul San Francisco’s transportation policies, will actively harm street safety and public transit in several specific ways. We oppose Proposition L due to the negative impact these changes will have on seniors and people with disabilities.

First, Proposition L will push the City to speed up cars by reengineering our streets. This is despite the fact that San Franciscans already struggle with the third most dangerous streets in the nation. For seniors, the story is even grimmer. Seniors are five times as likely as other adults to be killed by a car when involved in a collision and, though seniors only account for 15% of the population in San Francisco, they make up about 50% of the victims in fatal crashes.

Second, Proposition L states that traffic laws should be enforced equally. That might not seem bad at first until you consider recent efforts by the San Francisco Police Department to focus traffic enforcement in the most dangerous intersections and on the most devastating violations. We shouldn’t tell the police how to enforce traffic laws while three people a day are injured in a collision.

Beyond street safety, Proposition L’s attack on Muni also hurts seniors and people with disabilities.

So who rides Muni? Well, everybody: upper class, working class, the young, the elderly—everybody. However, certain groups depend on Muni for daily activities they cannot survive without.

Yet Proposition L takes money away from Muni to build parking garages at around $100,000 a space and limits other revenue. Starving Muni won’t make it any better, nor will encouraging additional cars on our City streets make them any safer. What’s more, those who depend on Muni can’t afford for it to get any worse.

More than half of all Muni riders are low-income, despite making up 31 percent of the overall population. A study by Muni also found that among riders with disabilities, 78 percent are low-income.

And when Muni doesn’t work, low-income people—many of whom can’t afford a car, much less a taxi, Uber, or Lyft—are simply stuck.

Like all San Franciscans, seniors and people with disabilities walk, drive, take transit, use taxis and bike to varying degrees. Those of us who drive are also harmed by Proposition L by encouraging more cars to get on the road which will worsen parking and gridlock.

Join us in voting No on L.


Hene Kelly is the Vice President of the California Alliance for Retired Americans (CARA).

Jonathan Lyens is the President of the FDR Democratic Club of San Francisco, for Seniors and People with Disabilities.

Filed under: San Francisco News

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