MTA backs traffic-calming plan 

A slew of traffic-calming measures including speed humps, medians and improved crosswalks are expected to make San Francisco streets, where nearly 700 pedestrians were injured by cars and 14 were killed in 2005, a whole lot safer.

Nine neighborhoods or locations were selected as part of the first traffic-calming projects to be funded by Proposition K, which voters approved in 2003. Prop. K reinstated a half-cent sales tax and dedicated $68 million over the next 30 years to traffic-calming projects.

The Municipal Transportation Agency unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar plan Tuesday for projects in the Inner Sunset, Excelsior and Bayview neighborhoods and for other specific roadways, including the 18th Avenue bypass near 19th Avenue and Lincoln Way, the West Portal Bypass,O’Shaughnessy Boulevard, the Randolph/Broad Corridor, Circular Avenue and Teresita Boulevard.

These areas were given the highest priority based on a number of factors, including collision history and the volume of pedestrians.

In 2005, 699 pedestrians suffered injuries when hit by a car, up 5 percent from the previous year, and 14 pedestrians were killed when struck by a car, according to a 2005 Collision Report, drafted by the Municipal Transportation Agency and the Department of Parking and Traffic.

Steven Currier, president of the Outer Mission Residents Association, said the proposed measures are paramount in keeping people in the neighborhood safe.

"We’re not a destination anymore. We’re a pass-through," Currier said. "So people come through the Excelsior at high rates of speed and there are a lot of pedestrians and there are a lot of schools. So what we need to do is we need to make people aware."

While the MTA signed off on the plan in concept, actual implementation of the measures would require another approval by the MTA board. Residents living in the area of some of the proposed traffic-calming measures, such as speed humps, would also be given the opportunity to vote on whether they want them implemented. Some of the proposed measures could be in place as early as this summer.

Michael Smith, spokesman for the pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco, said traffic-calming measures are the only way The City can reduce pedestrian fatalities.

"You can’t expect a policeman to be at every intersection," Smith said.

The key to cutting down pedestrian fatalities is to ensure cars are driving slowly, Smith said. About half of the pedestrian accidents are the fault of the pedestrian, but the traffic-calming measures could go a long way in ensuring a pedestrian’s mistake does not result in death.

"If the car is traveling above 25miles per hour, the pedestrian is likely to die," Smith said.

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