In 2015 there were a total of 24 fatal pedestrian accidents in San Francisco. And while that figure is on par with past years (in spite of all the major pedestrian safety projects throughout the city) it’s not what you see when you look at Vision Zero reporting.
An independent review of the reporting practices used by San Francisco's Vision Zero program has brought to light several issues with how these numbers are collected and presented to the public. In fact, the total number of fatalities is significantly higher than published.
Vision Zero Omissions Paint a (Slightly) More Dangerous Picture
The review found that Vision Zero statistics don't take into account certain types of accidents. For instance, three pedestrians were killed on highways around the city of San Francisco in 2015. Their deaths don't show up anywhere in the Vision Zero tallies. Also omitted was the death of teenager who was struck by a train. As were the deaths of two individuals who were injured in pedestrian accidents in San Francisco way back in 2013.
Why the Discrepancies?
Vision Zero relies solely on data concerning pedestrian accidents in San Francisco that has been collected by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. On the other hand, the data uncovered by reporters was pulled directly from the office of the San Francisco Medical Examiner, which collates all of the fatalities within the city.
Also, the Vision Zero reports are tailored to fit within the scope of the project—which is just the heart of the city and not the highways around it.
While the differences don’t stem from any sort of deliberate manipulation, they do raise questions about the sanctity of the Vision Zero project.
Do Vision Zero Improvements Decrease Pedestrian Accidents in San Francisco?
They haven’t yet. In the years since the project began the rate of fatal pedestrian accidents in San Francisco has stayed the same—in spite of the millions of dollars ear marked for reengineering projects and public outreach.
Paul Rose, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said in a statement to the press that “while one fatality is one too many, we have been working extremely hard to accomplish safety projects, more enforcement, and more education to ensure that we’re making these streets as safe as possible.”
Indeed, the fast track that many of these projects have been placed on has produced physical results.
• 200 intersections have been redesigned
• 13 miles of roadway have been improved
• Dozens of bike lanes, pedestrian safe zones, and crosswalk bulb-outs have been created
But some are skeptical of the effectiveness of the work and skewed data does not give a good impression.
Nicole Ferrara, the executive director of Walk San Francisco, told KQED News that the Vision Zero projects San Francisco has completed to date were small scale (comparatively) and that they have been effective but “only to a certain extent.” She, and others like her, would love to see a more substantial reduction in not only fatalities but nonfatal accidents as well.
Protecting Victims of Pedestrian Accidents in San Francisco
Until Vision Zero reaches its goal, an experienced pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco may be your strongest ally. If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one, there is help for you. Navigating the confusing and difficult road to financial recovery is easier with an expert on your side. To find out if you have a case, fill out our online intake form or call (415) 413-0033 today.