SF Celebrates Pedestrian, Bike Infrastructure Improvements, Vows to do More

Twenty-four projects designed to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety in San Francisco have been completed ahead of schedule, with six more projects expected to be completed come February 2016 and hundreds of dangerous intersections to be improved by end of 2016.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee joined members of the Board of Supervisors, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and the Vision Zero Coalition today to announce the completion of the 24th project of Vision Zero, a policy the city has committed to in an effort to eliminate serious traffic injuries and fatalities in San Francisco by 2024.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has completed the 24 projects in 21 months, three months ahead of schedule.

“We completed our high-priority Vision Zero projects ahead of schedule, and we’re not stopping there,” Lee said today. “We have identified six additional projects that begin immediately. We will continue to work to make our streets safe for everyone, whether they are walking, biking, driving or taking transit.”

Vision Zero has been focused on improving the 12 percent of city streets that are considered high-injury and which account for 70 percent of severe and fatal traffic injuries in San Francisco.

In 2015 alone, the SFMTA removed obstructions to improve visibility, particularly for children walking or people in wheelchairs, at 119 intersections. The SFMTA also created painted safety zones at 27 intersections, reducing turning speeds and improving visibility.

High-visibility, zebra-stripe crosswalks were painted at 123 intersections across the city, according to the mayor’s office.

The SFMTA has also modified the timing of traffic signals at 41 intersections to give pedestrians a head start.

SFMTA Director of Transportation, Ed Reiskin, said the completion of these projects ahead of schedule “reflects our sense of urgency and core philosophy that traffic deaths are preventable and unacceptable.”

The twenty-fourth Vision Zero engineering project to be completed was described by the SFMTA as two painted safety zones at the intersections of Geary and Leavenworth streets and Eddy and Mason streets in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents residents of the Tenderloin, said today, “When we know that the injuries, damage, death and trauma from collisions are absolutely preventable, we have a moral imperative to act.”

One of the 24 projects implemented to support Vision Zero was Safer Market Street, which put in place turn restrictions for private vehicles at 20 of the city’s top intersections known for pedestrian injury collisions and the top two intersections for bicycle injury collisions.

Lawrence Li, the president of The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s board of directors announced today that the city has agreed to place restrictions on turns and through traffic for vehicles traveling along the popular Wiggle bicycle route in the Lower Haight neighborhood and that the project will also include more green lanes, sharrows and a new bicycle signal light in the area.

By the end of 2016, the city also aims to have started construction efforts to make high-injury corridors like Masonic Avenue, Second Street and Polk Street safer for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

A study by the Department of Public Health recently found that since the beginning of the Vision Zero effort, a marketing campaign called “It Stops Here,” stressing pedestrians’ right of way at intersections, has led to a 3.2 percent increase in vehicles yielding to pedestrians in the city.

Hannah Albarazi, Bay City News

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