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Street safety shortcomings cast shadow over Walk to Work Day

Renewed calls for safer streets for pedestrians and bicyclists was a major theme of this year’s Walk to Work Day, as six pedestrians and one bicyclist have already died this year on San Francisco streets.

Mayor London Breed joined city officials and community organizers early Wednesday morning to walk from Hayes Valley Playground to City Hall where she said many changes happening on the streets, such as bulb outs, protected bike lanes, and daylighting, are all part of keeping the streets safe:

“It’s about public safety. It’s about keeping people safe.”

Last month, Breed called on the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to quickly install near-term public safety improvements on streets known to have a history of severe or fatal collisions.

The City has that data known as the “high-injury network” where 70 percent of the fatal or severe collisions are happening on 13 percent of The City’s streets.

Breed said:

“The only way we are going to get to a better place where not one more life is lost is if we make sure that we look out for one another, we make these improvements, we get people to slow down.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transporatation Agency, tasked with keeping the streets safe, has already begun looking into corridors where they can finish near-term safety improvements by the end of the year.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin said:

“We’ve gotten the message from our city leaders that we need to do more and better and faster.”

Jodie Medeiros, executive director of Walk San Francisco, said The City should be one of the most walkable cities in the nation, but is not quite there yet:

“A major street like Market Street where over a half million people per day walk down Market Street is still one of our most dangerous streets in our city. On average three people are hit each day across San Francisco while walking.”

The City has been working on the “Better Market Street” plan that looks at making Market Street more inviting for pedestrians and bicyclists that could lead to restrictions to private vehicles.

The plan’s draft environmental impact report was released in February and the Planning Department is taking comments on the report until April 15.

Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, a survivor of being hit by vehicle,  said The City needs to join together to call on state legislators for automated speed enforcement:

“We want it here. We need to send a loud message to these legislators that we need it.”

In 2017, Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill to allow San Francisco and San Jose to pilot an automated speed enforcement program, but it had failed in committee.

Yee is also working on city legislation to decrease speed limits to have daylighting citywide on street corners.

Daylighting is when parking spaces are removed near the corner of a street to provide more visibility for drivers to see pedestrians crossing the street. It’s a method the SFMTA is already using on some of its projects.

Jenny Yu with San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets, said her mother was hit at Parker and Anza streets and suffered severe brain damage.

Yu said her mother has not been the same since the crash and hopes her story will have a lasting impact to everyone:

“Every time I share my story, it’s in hope that it will help people understand the true toll of crashes and demand safe streets.”

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  1. voltairesmistress says:

    I don’t think our local politicians recognize how popular the street safety issue is. Everybody is a pedestrian at some point each day. Most of us are or have children or people over age 65 in our lives, and we fear for their safety. When it comes to our own neighborhoods, we want well designed speed humps, visible crosswalks, speed cameras, wide and tree-lined sidewalks, and safe bikelanes protected from double parked vehicles. Yet, time and again, these real electoral winners are displaced by fears of lost parking or gridlock for drivers.

  2. Uber’s least favorite day.

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