Pedestrian Safety Improvements in San Francisco Have Yet to Demonstrate Effectiveness

Grim Pedestrian Accident Statistics in San Francisco Put Vision Zero Under Pressure

Fatal pedestrian accidents in San Francisco reached a critical point in 2014 when they outpaced similar accident rates across the country. San Francisco city planners decided to do something about that and adopted Vision Zero, a comprehensive plan which combines engineering projects with public outreach and education to decrease the number of fatal traffic accidents. The overall goal was to cut the number of fatalities to zero by 2024 (with a closer goal of halving the total by 2021). And for a while it looked as if the major changes (in which the city is set to spend $66 million) were making a significant dent in traffic deaths.

However, new crash data collected by various agencies (and presented in a December 15, 2016 budgetary meeting) shows that the number of fatal and injurious pedestrian accidents in San Francisco has not significantly changed in the last 10 years. In fact, our City by the Bay is still the second deadliest city for pedestrians in the country behind only New York.

There is Hope

While the number of traffic deaths in the city has remained the same, the actual population has increased (by almost 80,000 people). So while the total number of deaths hasn’t been affected by the major redesigns some of our busiest streets and intersections have undergone, the percentage of San Franciscans who fall victim to these sorts of accidents has decreased.

And the city isn’t done yet. With $66 million still in the tank, there’s plenty of money to make further improvements. Some of the success stories that have already come out of this landmark re-engineering projects include:

  • A large number of “pedestrian safe zones”
  • Restructuring of traffic flow along some of San Francisco’s most dangerous streets
  • Investments in new technology (including smarter pedestrian traffic signals)
  • Crosswalk improvements (include placement and bumpouts)
  • And the use of Light Detecting and Ranging (LIDAR) Units to decrease speeding violations throughout the city

What Needs to Happen in the Future

Increased Enforcement

As part of the Vision Zero process the SFPD identified the five most common types of injurious car accidents in San Francisco. These included speeding, failure to yield, and running red lights. This group of infractions (which the SFPD calls Focus Five) has been the target of significantly increased enforcement effort aimed at reducing the risks to pedestrians. However, arrest and citations statistics show that enforcement effort has not been uniform across the city. While some areas have seen a 30% (or more) increase in citations for these Focus Five traffic violations, some areas have seen no statistical improvement at all.

Therefore, it would be beneficial if all precincts of the SFPD got on board with the city’s plans and used their resources to decrease pedestrian accidents in San Francisco and keep us safer.

More Redesigns

Some of the city’s major rebuilding projects have resulting in considerably safer neighborhoods (especially noticeable in the Mission District—which was previous one of the most deadly). However, the city prioritizes these changes based on need (an unfortunate financial necessity). Until the re-envisioning project is complete, there will still be danger zones in San Francisco.

The infrastructure changes that have already put into place need to expand and encompass the majority of San Francisco’s hot spots, not just the worst ones.

Increased Public Education

Ultimately the responsibility to reduce pedestrian accidents in San Francisco rests on all of our shoulders. Me, as a San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney, and US, as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, need to take our own safety—and the safety of others—seriously. While San Francisco has made great strides to become less car-centric in its thinking, there’s still much more work to do.

Educating people about the dangers they pose (and the danger they’re in) can have a significant effect (especially when tied to increased enforcement efforts).

What to Do if You’re Hurt

If you’ve been seriously injured by a reckless, careless, or distracted driver, you need a San Francisco pedestrian accident lawyer fighting for you. Sally Morin and her legal team have been winning financial compensation for victims in and out of court for over a decade. See why many of her clients call Sally the best pedestrian accident attorney in San Francisco.

Submit your case online to get help now.