Pedestrian death rate on the rise in S.F. 

Pedestrian fatalities on San Francisco streets increased in 2006, although the number of car collisions involving pedestrians decreased overall from the previous year. Fatal crashes involving pedestrians totaled 17 in 2006, compared with 14 during the previous year.

Nonfatal crashes involving pedestrians dropped slightly, however, from 727 in 2005 to 716 in 2006, according to Capt. Greg Corrales of the San Francisco Police Department’s traffic detail.

Of The City’s 10 police districts, the Taraval district, which covers the Sunset and Parkside neighborhoods, and Southern district, which includes Market Street and the South of Market neighborhood, had the highest number of pedestrian fatalities, with four pedestrians deaths each.

Since 2000, 134 pedestrians have died after being hit by cars, according to the Department of Traffic. The City has had two victims in 2007 — a 69-year-old woman who died after being struck on Geary Boulevard and a 70-year-old man who was hit by a Muni bus on Fillmore Street.

Corrales said violations by pedestrians caused six deaths in 2006, while drivers failing to yield to pedestrians caused five deaths.

In order to make streets safer for pedestrians, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has developed a plan for traffic calming citywide. The plan consists primarily of a variety of physical measures such as speed humps, timed pedestrian signals and so-called "bulb-outs," which lessen the distance across streets at corners. Overall, a 2005 projection estimated the five-year traffic-calming project’s cost at $8,650,600.

During a presentation at the San Francisco Planning and Research Association on Tuesday, Manito Velasco, the San Francisco Transportation Authority’s traffic calming manager, indicated that the plan was to be rewritten this year, with first priority going to the Bayview, Excelsior and Inner Sunset.

"We have these programs and projects that we’ve picked based on collision history, volume and speed. That’s why the Bayview, the Excelsior [and] the Inner Sunset bubbled up to the top," Velasco said during his presentation.

The agency has planned nine traffic-calming projects for neighborhoods primarily in the western and southern areas of The City, according to Velasco’s presentation.

City planners hope traffic-calming measures will slow traffic down in congested neighborhoods, but often the measures include controversial changes such as reducing parking or reducing lanes of traffic, which residents sometimes resist. The City uses a process that includes public input and community meetings to involve residents in the changes.

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