Walking in San Francisco can be a fatal experience 

Pedestrian deaths comprise more than half of all traffic fatalities in San Francisco, a rate more than four times the national average.

In most metropolitan areas, pedestrians account for just a small portion — 12 percent — of total traffic deaths. But walkers in San Francisco make up 51.9 percent of traffic fatalities, according to a study by Transportation For America, a national coalition of transit and planning groups.

Because it’s a dense, accessible city, more people walk in San Francisco, which partially explains the high rate of pedestrian fatalities, said Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe of Walk SF.

She said another factor behind the high death rate is The City’s ongoing efforts to transform local streets from highwaylike arteries into roads with slower-moving traffic. That makes it safer for drivers, but not safe enough for walkers.

The Transportation For America report was released to highlight the lack of dedicated funding for pedestrian improvement projects in metropolitan areas. Although walkers account for 12 percent of all traffic deaths, only 1.5 percent of transportation funding is set aside for pedestrian safety projects, according to the report.

Stampe said finding funding is essential to improving pedestrian conditions in San Francisco. Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed $248 million bond measure to upgrade road conditions, which includes $50 million for streetscape improvements, could significantly impact The City’s walking environment, Stampe said.

While San Francisco had a disproportionately high rate of pedestrian traffic fatalities, the overall condition for walking in the metro area was fairly safe, according to the report. Using a formula that factored in how often people walk, the report found that the metro area — which includes Oakland and Fremont — ranked 41st among U.S. cities for pedestrian safety levels. By comparison, the Seattle area ranked 46th and New York was 50th.

Between 2000 and 2009, 220 San Francisco pedestrians were killed in a traffic accident.


Eyes on the road

51.9: Percentage of traffic fatalities in San Francisco that are pedestrians

12: Percentage of traffic fatalities nationwide that are pedestrians

2.86: Average pedestrian fatality rate in San Francisco County, per 100,000 people

3.5: Average pedestrian fatality rate in Tampa Bay, Fla. (highest national average)

$280M: Funding spent annually on pedestrian traffic fatalities, injuries

Source: Transportation For America report

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Will Reisman

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