SF health officials recommend support of Vision Zero safety plan 

click to enlarge Vision Zero
  • Cindy chew/2010 S.f. Examiner file photo
  • The health commission has been urged to adopt Vision Zero, a pedestrian-safety initiative already adopted by the Board of Supervisors, Police Department and the SFMTA.
On the heels of the Board of Supervisors adopting a Vision Zero plan Tuesday to eliminate pedestrian fatalities within a decade, Department of Public Health staff recommended the Health Commission adopt it as well.

The proposal came Tuesday during the first pedestrian safety update to the commission’s Community and Public Health Committee in some two years, on behalf of DPH staff including epidemiologist Megan Wier.

Next, staff would need to draft a resolution to be brought before the full commission. In addition to the supervisors, the Police Department and San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency have adopted Vision Zero.

Vision Zero’s goals are consistent with the Mayor’s Pedestrian Strategy and WalkFirst, a data-driven initiative unveiled a couple of weeks ago to address corridors with the most injuries, Wier said.

“This is something the health department has continued to prioritize,” she said.

In pushing the resolution, staff noted The City spends about $15 million annually treating pedestrian injuries, 76 percent of which is paid for by public funding for Medicare and Medi-Cal patients.

District 6, which includes the downtown and South of Market areas, had the highest total cost due to collision-related incidents, at $13.7 million, followed by District 3 to the north at $5.9 million and District 4 in the west at $5.25 million, according to San Francisco Injury Center data from 2006 to 2011.

Data is analyzed every several years, Wier said, and collision figures for 2011 showed “the same patterns.”

The most vulnerable populations were low-income, disabled, immigrant, non-English-speaking and senior residents, with the most injuries occurring in Chinatown, SoMA and the Tenderloin, according to the data.

“Usually these are communities with lower levels of car ownership and rely on public transit and a lot of walking,” explained Wier, who also co-chairs the Vision Zero task force.

The DPH, which developed a high-injury corridor map central to the WalkFirst project, is now looking at a more comprehensive surveillance system.

Work is being done to link data from San Francisco General Hospital.

“We know approximately 20 percent of pedestrian injuries are not reported on police records based on previous studies,” Wier said. “So setting up a system so we’re more regularly capturing those injuries will help understanding of injuries and where they’re happening as well as consequences.”

The SFMTA is also funding an effort to help the health department access collision data in a more timely fashion.

“Ultimately, our goal is to use this type of analysis to have more targeted interventions,” Wier said.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong covers transportation, housing, and ethnic communities, among other topics, for the San Francisco Examiner. She covered City Hall as a fellow for the San Francisco Chronicle, night cops and courts for the San Antonio Express-News, general news for Spanish-language newspapers La Opinión and El Mensajero,... more
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