City Officials, Pedestrian Advocates Call for Safer Streets on Walk to Work Day

San Francisco city officials and pedestrian advocates said during today’s celebrations of Walk to Work Day that additional safety precautions are still needed to end pedestrian fatalities in the city.

Nicole Ferrara, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco, said in order to encourage people to walk more, the city needs to make it safer and more enticing.

This year’s Walk to Work Day coincides with the Market Street Prototyping Festival, in which over 50 art installations are in place by various community groups re-envisioning the Market Street corridor.

Market Street is transformed with ping pong tables, lawns and unconventional art pieces today through Saturday.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the city’s District 6, including the South of Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods, walked along Market Street this morning with fellow supervisors, District Attorney George Gascon, police Chief Greg Suhr and numerous other city officials admiring improved pedestrian safety features and the new temporary art installations.

Kim said her district sees the highest rate of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in the city, despite the fact that the vast majority of Tenderloin residents don’t own cars.

She said she is excited about daylighting projects in her district.

Daylighting is a pedestrian safety measure that makes pedestrians more visible at intersections by removing barriers, such as parked cars, from within at least 10 feet of a crosswalk or intersection, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The simple safety measure allows pedestrians, especially children, to remain on the crosswalk until it’s safe to cross, instead of having to walk out past the parked vehicle and into the street to see if vehicles are about to enter the intersection. Motorists are also able to see if someone is waiting to cross.

According to the SFMTA, since almost all the streets in the Tenderloin are considered high-injury streets, already 80 intersections in the neighborhood have been improved with daylighting.

Ed Reiskin, the SFMTA’s director of transportation, said today that in a city with more than a million trips made on foot everyday, it is important that pedestrians are made more visible and that vehicles slow down.

According to Walk SF, 18 pedestrians died in traffic-related incidents last year, in addition to 10 non-pedestrian traffic-related deaths that same year.

Supervisor Norman Yee said today it’s important that the city remembers that “walking safely is not a privilege, it is a right.”

Pedestrian advocates continue to urge the city to create bulb-outs, pedestrian medians, wider sidewalks, and other infrastructure improvements to further protect people walking through crosswalks.

Reiskin said today that vehicles in San Francisco strike roughly 800 people each year and that about 100 of those struck are seriously injured.

While Gascon said his office prosecuted all eight vehicular manslaughter cases that crossed his desk last year, he said today that he believes preventative measures, such as engineering and public awareness, are the real solutions and could greatly decrease the number of traffic-related deaths in San Francisco.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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  • Sanchez Resident

    Let’s make the City carless by 2050. Except for autonomous autos.

  • Calbikesafety

    Please join us in supporting SB192.-

    This law will help protect more people and make sure all riders benefit from the head protection that a helmet provides.

    • Yes! I’m all for criminalizing bikers that don’t protect themselves from cars!

      • aj

        People in automobiles are required to wear seat belts. Does that constitute criminalizing car drivers and passengers?

    • Please amend the law to apply all users of our streets. Don’t you care about pedestrian and driver safety??

  • Marilyn Dalton

    New lane markings were installed on Polk Street recently. Friends of Polk Street people were told and say the City is supposed to be enforcing them, but they are not. The City makes these laws but does not enforce them.

  • Who needs ping pong on Market Street. There’s already a fun game – it’s called fear and avoid the almighty vehicle.

  • A A

    I was on my bike yesterday and was making a left turn from 11th Street into Mission St. around 4:45 pm. A woman had just stepped down from the sidewalk to the crosswalk but didn’t dare going further. I was the only one to stop for her ; cars were just going through and ignoring the pedestrian even though she had the right-of-way and both her and I were very visible. It took quite a while before drivers decided to stop and let her cross Mission St. Of course, this is not the best time to be a pedestrian or a cyclist on SF streets, especially in the downtown and SOMA areas when drivers are in a hurry to get on the freeway and try to beat traffic. But shouldn’t it also be when and where enforcement should be the highest? The city still has a long way to go regarding pedestrian safety!