In a great, walkable city like San Francisco, no one should fear the simple, everyday act of crossing the street. Yet with an annual average of 800 people injured while walking, and 100 seriously injured or killed, we need to do better.
Many of these injuries and fatalities take place on known high-injury corridors in areas such as mid-Market Street and South of Market. These collisions cause untold emotional pain and financial burdens for victims and their loved ones. In every instance, these collisions are preventable, and we must continue our work as a city to prevent them.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency supports Vision Zero, a plan to eliminate traffic deaths in San Francisco within 10 years. We can work toward this goal by supporting best practices in enforcement and education as well as increasing funding to engineer and build safer streets for all.
Enforcement will continue to be key and the dangerous behaviors we need to change are clear, including speeding and failure to yield to pedestrians. The Police Department has initiated an immediate crackdown on these violations, increasing their motorcycle force by 12 percent and deploying them at 50 intersections identified citywide as areas of concern. Citations have already increased by 50 percent.
Beyond enforcement, better street design is at the core of a safer, more walkable city. Since 2011, we’ve installed 12 miles of streetscape improvements, increased pedestrian crossing times at 390 intersections, and have installed more than 200 traffic-calming devices such as speed bumps and traffic islands citywide. We have reduced speed limits to 15 miles per hour at 181 San Francisco schools and increased our agency’s school crossing guard program to a total of 195 guards. This year will also be the sixth year that we champion Sunday Streets, a celebratory event that plays a large part in reminding us all that the streets of San Francisco should be safe for everyone.
Investing in safety improvements across The City will continue to be a priority, but we clearly need to do more. Our WalkFirst project, a collaboration of city agencies, has executed a robust data-driven analysis of where collisions are happening in San Francisco, why they happen, and what engineering tools we can use to prevent them in the future.
As a result of the WalkFirst initiative, over the next five years we will be leveraging $17 million to improve safety for people walking at 170 high-priority locations identified by WalkFirst. But more funds are needed to get our city to zero traffic fatalities in the next 10 years. People should not be dying in our streets as they try to make their way through the city.
To address this need, the SFMTA will be joining Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors in sponsoring a package of transportation funding measures for the November ballot that draws on funding recommendations made by the mayor’s 2030 Transportation Task Force that investigated what San Francisco needs to do to improve transportation in San Francisco by creating safer streets, improving transit and building better roads.
Edward D. Reiskin is the director of transportation for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.