Walk To Work Day: Chief Suhr Says Pedestrians Should Feel Safe

12:19 PM: Many steps were taken during the morning commute today for San Francisco’s first Walk to Work Day.

City leaders, including police Chief Greg Suhr, Mayor Ed Lee, many supervisors and the director of the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency, joined participants in walking to workplaces throughout the city as part of the event organized by the nonprofit Walk SF.

This morning, Supervisors Katy Tang and London Breed dropped by a hub at Octavia and Hayes streets, where residents stopped on their walks to pick up complimentary coffee, stickers, $2 Clipper cards, and other freebies.

Breed shared her excitement to make Walk to Work Day an annual event similar to the well-known Bike to Work Day, while Tang highlighted walking for health.

“It’s easy to forget to walk,” Tang said. “We have to make a conscious reminder to ourselves.”

Buena Vista Heights resident Mike Baehr was walking this morning from his home to Levi’s Plaza where he works on Battery Street. He stopped at the Walk to Work Day booth in Hayes Valley.

“I love walking in San Francisco,” he said. “There’s always something new to check out.”

Former city supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who volunteers with Walk SF, was at Octavia and Hayes streets before heading over to City Hall where a news conference was held this morning.

She touted the health benefits of walking and emphasized that pedestrians are able to take in more of the city, noticing local shops and sights.

Mayor Lee walked along Market Street starting from the Powell BART station before arriving at City Hall.
Lee said using his feet to get around made him feel more connected to the city.

“Walking can be glorious, fun and you learn a lot,” he said.

He noted his walk gave him an opportunity to observe revitalization efforts along Market Street and see local businesses serving the community.

“You don’t get to see that unless you are walking our streets,” he said.

The mayor also announced steps to reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities as part of the city’s pedestrian strategy.

There have been seven pedestrian fatalities in San Francisco so far this year; last year there were 20 pedestrian deaths in the city.

The citywide strategy aims to reduce serious or fatal pedestrian injury incidents by 25 percent by 2016 and by 50 percent by 2021.

Lee laid out plans that include fixing 44 miles of streets, extending crosswalk times for pedestrians, upgrading 13,000 curb ramps in the next 10 years and working with police to enforce laws, such as slower speed limits and not driving under the influence.

“Behaviors won’t change unless we enforce laws,” Lee said. “We can do things to prevent accidents.”

Chief Suhr said pedestrians should feel safe walking through the city, and that motorists need to contribute to safety efforts.

He advised walkers to pay attention and put down cellphones while on the move and reminded motorists to stay focused on the road and be mindful of pedestrians.

“Get out and enjoy (today) on your ones and twos,” he said.

SFMTA director of transportation Ed Reiskin noted that walking is a free method to get around and is a zero-emission activity.

Plus, “you don’t have to look for parking,” Reiskin said.

“Walking is an extremely important part of making San Francisco the great city it is,” he said.

Walk to Work Day participants have opportunities throughout the day to win prizes by posting about their walking experience online.

The day will end with a happy hour celebration for walkers at Show Dogs restaurant at 1020 Market St. starting at 5:30 p.m.

At the restaurant, prize winners will be announced, including the title of “Longest Walking Commute,” with the office of Supervisor John Avalos up for contention with their 5-mile trek from Mama Art Cafe in the Excelsior District to City Hall this morning.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

4:12 AM: Several city leaders will be lacing up their walking shoes this morning to join participants in the city’s first official Walk to Work Day.

Nonprofit group Walk San Francisco is organizing the effort to get commuters to hit the pavement instead of the gas pedal to get to work this morning.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and many city supervisors will be using foot power to get to work, and greeting other participants along the way.

Supervisors Eric Mar, Mark Farrell, David Chiu, Katy Tang, London Breed, Scott Wiener, David Campos, Malia Cohen and John Avalos will be meeting up at various coffee shops and “hubs” throughout the city between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Lee will walk west along Market Street starting from the Powell BART station and head toward City Hall around 8:40 a.m.

Along his walk to work, Lee will pick up several supervisors at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Octavia Street, who will join him at a gathering on the Polk Street steps of City Hall at 9:30 a.m.

Walk to Work Day encourages participants to start the healthy habit of walking and promotes safe streets for pedestrians to feel comfortable on city roads, intersections and sidewalks.

Participants have opportunities throughout the day to win prizes when posting about their walk to work experience online.

The day will end with a happy hour celebration for walkers at Show Dogs restaurant at 1020 Market Street starting at 5:30 p.m.

More information about contests, events and participating in a walk can be found at walk2workday.org.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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