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Thursday, March 6, 2014

Mayor Ed Lee Finally Does Something About Pedestrian Deaths

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 3:28 PM

Hopes you aren't reading this story while walking or driving in San Francisco
  • Hopes you aren't reading this story while walking or driving in San Francisco

On the steps of City Hall today, Mayor Ed Lee rolled out a new plan -- and the money to execute it -- that he hopes will curb pedestrian accidents and fatalities across the city.

Last year, San Francisco had 21 pedestrian deaths -- a record high for San Francisco; so far five pedestrians have been killed as of 2014 and plenty more have been injured. And those are only the ones you hear about. According to WalkFirst, an average of three people are hit by cars everyday.

Community groups have been calling on the Mayor to put an end to the pedestrian deaths. So today, he did just that, leveraging $17 million for improved pedestrian safety at 170 of the most dangerous locations in San Francisco over the next five years.

Some of those projects include signal timing changes, speed humps, pedestrian countdown signals and protected left turns. The city could also see increased enforcement, education campaigns, and more radar speed display signs.

"San Francisco remains one of the most walkable cities in the world, and we all have a shared responsibility to protect and care for pedestrians. By looking out for each other and by driving more slowly and carefully, we can make a big difference in improving safety for people walking in San Francisco," Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.

WalkFirst, a local nonprofit group tasked with identifying pedestrian projects, used a combination of public feedback and statistical data to craft a blueprint prioritizing pedestrian safety projects that need to be done now.

Some facts WalkFirst discovered:

High Injury Corridors represent 6 percent of San Francisco's street miles (70 miles), but 60 percent of severe and fatal injuries. These Corridors are streets where high numbers of pedestrian injuries occur. Some intersections do not fit into corridors but may have specific challenges that warrant special attention.

Key Risk Factors include:

Speed: 90 percent of pedestrians are killed when hit by a vehicle traveling at 55mph.

Drivers' failure to yield: 70 percent of pedestrian injuries occur at intersections; the top factor cited in pedestrian collisions is driver failure to yield the right of way (>40%).

Left turns: One-quarter of pedestrians injured in San Francisco are hit by a left-turning vehicle, over twice the proportion of people injured by vehicles turning right (10%).

Most of those dangerous corridors are located in Districts 3 and 6, which encompass San Francisco's downtown corridor, with areas such as SOMA, the Financial District, the Tenderloin and North Beach. These two Districts have the highest employment density in the city. the group says.

From November 2013 to January 2014, more than 3,700 people visited WalkFirst's interactive website with about 400 of those giving direct feedback through focus groups and online surveys. What they found was that residents would like more than anything for the city to "act quickly and implement temporary measures that are cost-effective." Some 80 percent of respondents said they want improvements on intersections and corridors where the most collisions occurred first.

"Through WalkFirst, we now know that 60 percent of pedestrian collisions occur on six percent of our streets," said Police Chief Greg Suhr. "So far this year, traffic citations are up over 50 percent in San Francisco as we work to do our part in keeping our City safe."

In addition to this $17 million plan, the Mayor's Office last month rolled out an awareness campaign, asking everyone on the road to "be nice and look twice." The trilingual campaign notes all the pervasive and illegal behaviors that are contributing to pedestrian deaths citywide. The campaign has plastered ads on Muni vehicles and blasted them pm radio.

Also, Mayor Lee signed off on "Vision Zero" -- an ambitious plan to have zero traffic deaths by 2024.

You can find out more about how to be a better person on the roads via WalkFirst's website. Also, checkout this interactive map showing you were pedestrians are getting hit and why.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.

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