San Francisco transportation officials have unveiled a new round of street safety initiatives to curb pedestrian deaths and injuries by targeting the city’s most dangerous intersections for makeovers. While pedestrian advocates praised the measures, they remained concerned the bulk of the plan lacked funding.
“Any pedestrian death or serious injury is one too many,” said Mayor Ed Lee, who held a City Hall press conference to announce the recommendations of “Walk First,” a data-driven effort in which transportation officials and planners analyzed more than 2,000 vehicle collisions involving pedestrians.
They found that 60 percent of pedestrian injuries and deaths occur on just 6 percent of streets, which are mostly concentrated in the Tenderloin, SoMa and North Beach. On average, they said, more than 100 pedestrians are “severely injured or killed” citywide each year, while 800 pedestrians are injured.
Officials have identified the biggest trouble spots, and have recommended that these intersections undergo “quick, cost-effective improvements.” They include better crosswalks, reduced lane widths, turn prohibitions, speed humps, protected left turns and temporary pedestrian refuge islands.
While $17 million has been “leveraged” to improve “170 priority locations” over five years, the SFMTA still needs $33 million to fix all 265 intersections identified in the plan. To fund all of the plan’s recommendations, the estimated price tag would be $240 million.
City officials are hoping two transportation funding measures that are expected to appear on the November ballot would also help boost funding.
Advocates say $17 million isn’t much when you compare it with the $564 million in “health-related economic costs” and $15 million in medical bills that pedestrian injuries generate each year, according to the Walk First data.
“While a little can go a long way in improving pedestrian safety, Walk First is going to take money to build the most effective solutions that save lives,” said Nicole Schneider, executive director of Walk San Francisco.
Advocates are pushing the Vision Zero plan, which has a goal of eliminating all traffic deaths by 2024, and say the city needs to take more immediate action. This year alone there have already been five pedestrian fatalities. Last year, there were 21 pedestrian deaths.
At a City Hall hearing today, SFMTA Deputy Director of Planning Timothy Papandreou announced the agency was moving to prioritize 24 street safety projects that would be implemented under Vision Zero in the next two years.
“We are committed to design, deliver and fund and implement these projects,” said Papandreou. “Vision Zero is really about human life-saving, and these projects have to have the highest priority. We can’t do business as usual.”
He said the SFMTA was still working to identify which streets would fall under those priority projects.
Lee also unveiled a multilingual “Be Nice, Look Twice” campaign targeting all street users.