San Francisco devotes new resources to Vision Zero goals
- After a week that saw two deaths and multiple pedestrian and driver injuries, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced new measures to speed up traffic safety projects under the city’s Vision Zero program.
- Under Breed’s direction, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) will increase enforcement of behaviors likely to result in an accident: speeding, violating a pedestrian right-of-way, running red lights, running stop signs, and failing to yield while turning. Breed has ordered a “focus-on-the-five” goal that would increase the overall number of citations and see at least 50% of them go to those five violations.
- Additionally, Breed is asking the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) to execute near-term safety enhancements, including new safety posts, temporary sidewalk extensions and painting. She also directed the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to direct staff resources to the city’s Vision Zero Task Force.
The city's Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, has brought deaths below the city's average of 30 per year since 2016. But a cluster of accidents over the past week prompted Breed to take new action and recommit resources to traffic safety. Much of the work from SFMTA will focus on infrastructure, speeding up installation of painted buffers and other safety measures, which the city has worked on after other fatal accidents.
Calling the current pace of safety improvements "unacceptable," Breed said in a statement she would "refuse to allow red tape and bureaucracy to stop us from taking immediate, common-sense steps to improve safety while we undergo long-term improvements."
Increased police enforcement of traffic violations follows the city's years-long "focus on the five" commitment, which has proven controversial even among police officials. In a 2015 interview with Streetsblog, traffic commander Ann Mannix said she "cannot, by law, make [officers] go out and issue a citation," and the San Francisco Examiner reported that even under the crackdown, police were issuing fewer citations.
Cities across the country have been upping their Vision Zero commitments. Los Angeles and Portland, OR lowered speed limits in some areas, while Boston has looked at traffic calming measures and ways to reduce transportation inequality. New York City has credited increased enforcement and redesigned streets for its five-year reduction in traffic deaths.
Still, nationally pedestrian deaths continue to climb. According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), there were 6,227 pedestrian deaths in 2018, a 4% increase from the previous year.
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