Vision Zero advocates push forward as pedestrian deaths decline in 2014 

click to enlarge Pedestrian fatalities in San Francisco in 2014 were down from previous years, but still higher than the past several years. - CINDY CHEW/2010 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Cindy Chew/2010 S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • Pedestrian fatalities in San Francisco in 2014 were down from previous years, but still higher than the past several years.

Pedestrian fatalities in San Francisco in 2014 were down slightly from the previous year, but still higher than the past several years, a figure that traffic-safety officials and advocates hope to drive down with Vision Zero projects planned throughout 2015.

According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, 18 pedestrian fatalities and three bicyclist deaths involving motor vehicles occurred in 2014. In 2013, there were 21 pedestrian fatalities -- with seven in December and three on New Year's Eve alone, including the death of 6-year-old Sofia Liu who was hit by an Uber driver -- and four bicyclist fatalities.

Fatal injury collisions of all types numbered 28 in 2014 and 2013, according to the Police Department's Dec. 3 third-quarter traffic enforcement and collision data report. Severe-injury collision numbers dropped from 171 in 2013 to 144 in 2014, a 16 percent decrease.

The total number of injury collisions also decreased from 2,703 in 2013 to 2,285 in 2014, a 15 percent change, according to the police report. From Jan. 1 to Sept. 30, injury collisions involving motor vehicles and pedestrians fell 11 percent compared with 2013, and those involving bicyclists dropped 16 percent.

The 21 pedestrian fatalities in 2013 were the highest since 24 in 2007, prompting city officials and street-safety advocates to push for adoption and implementation of a Vision Zero policy to eliminate fatalities by 2024.

"Hopefully we're doing better," Walk San Francisco Executive Director Nicole Schneider said of the pedestrian fatalities in 2014 being slightly down from the spike. "But no matter what, we still have a long way to go to get to zero fatalities in nine years. I think this year has really been a year of building the infrastructure to prepare for Vision Zero implementation."

The Police Department, the SFMTA, the Department of Public Works and the Department of Public Health adopted the Vision Zero policy in early 2014. In April, the transit agency announced plans to implement at least two dozen street-engineering projects within two years to boost safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. So far, nine have been completed.

"While we are trending in the right direction, one fatality is too many," SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose said. "Following the passage of both Proposition A and B in November, we will be using our additional resources to make our streets as safe as possible for everyone."

Prop. A allows The City to borrow up to $500 million by issuing general-obligation bonds for improving its transit infrastructure and aging roads, while Prop. B amended the city charter to allocate a greater amount of the general fund toward the transit agency each year based on population growth.

The Vision Zero coalition's goal for this year, Schneider said, is to complete 18 miles of street-safety improvement projects on high-injury corridors, which account for 6 percent of The City's streets and 60 percent of severe and fatal injuries on average.

About The Author

Jessica Kwong

Jessica Kwong

Bio:
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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