cover-crosswalk.jpgIn the wake of San Francisco’s 18th pedestrian fatality of the year, Mayor Ed Lee today announced details of a plan being drafted to increase pedestrian safety in the city.

The plan, which is expected to be finalized and implemented in early 2013, is one step toward a goal set by the city to reduce serious or fatal pedestrian accidents by 25 percent in 2016 and 50 percent five years later, Lee said.

Joining other city officials on the Powell Street Promenade near Union Square, where sidewalks were widened in recent years to reduce vehicle traffic in the area, Lee called the site one of the best examples of San Francisco’s efforts to make streets safer.

“We’ve challenged ourselves as a city to make walking even more safe,” he said.

The pedestrian safety plan calls for reducing speed limits on certain streets and making improvements to various intersections, as well as using data to increase enforcement and education about particular danger zones, Lee said.

“We’re going to remind people these are spots where there’s going to be a lot more attention,” he said.

Deputy police Chief Denise Schmitt said the department has launched a “Focus on the 5” program using data gathered by the city to provide each district station with a list of the five most accident-prone intersections in the area.

“It’s about saving lives,” Schmitt said.

Many of the accidents occur on busy thoroughfares such as Market Street, Van Ness Avenue and 19th Avenue, or intersections that serve as off-ramps for highway traffic, she said.

Educational outreach by police will focus not just on motorists but on pedestrians who often are distracted by their phones or other devices while walking, Schmitt said.

Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco, said she is glad the city is working to protect those on foot.

The group and its members “look forward to a strong and effective strategy,” Stampe said.

She said, “This is going to prevent hundreds of injuries and deaths, all crashes that can be prevented.”

Stampe said nearly 900 pedestrians were struck and injured in the city in 2011, and that 18 have been killed so far in 2012 — the most recent of which was a 78-year-old man who was hit by a car at Market and Beale streets on Dec. 10.

Since the city launched a program in 2000 targeting pedestrian safety, injury collisions involving pedestrians in San Francisco have declined by 25 percent, according to the mayor’s office.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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