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Vision Zero Coalition calls on city to study its own transportation data

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(S.F. Examiner File Photo)
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The Vision Zero Coalition is calling on The City for an improved approach to creating safer streets this year, including studying its own data to see where effective change has been created, and where it has not.

The Medical Examiner’s office has not released official numbers, but based on the Vision Zero Coalition’s count, 28 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2016, including 15 people walking, three biking, nine in motor vehicles and one on a motorcycle.

“The City has undertaken many efforts toward Vision Zero since adopting it in 2014,” said Nicole Ferrara, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco and member of the Vision Zero Coalition. “At the same time, a growing population, many outstanding poorly designed streets that still prioritize speed over safety, and nearly 50,000 new ride-hail vehicles have made Vision Zero an uphill battle. These challenges cannot be an excuse. The City knows which improvements are working and must pursue Vision Zero with more urgency than ever before.”

The Coalition has drafted three key points it’s asking The City to enforce as part of the Vision Zero movement in 2017. The first is to identify 18 miles of high-injury corridors, and subsequently ensure that improvements made to these streets do not compromise on safety. Seventy percent of severe and fatal injuries occur on just 12 percent of San Francisco’s streets. The Coalition argues that this known trend means that these crashes are preventable, if only steps were taken to improve those corridors.

“Better infrastructure for people who walk, take transit, and bike will improve safety for all and help our city get serious about its Vision Zero commitment,” said Brian Wiedenmeier, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and another Vision Zero Coalition member. “18 miles of high injury corridor improvements in 2017, including significant segments of physically-protected bike lanes, will be key in meeting the needs of the growing number of people who bike in San Francisco.”

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The Vision Zero Coalition is also asking The City to do a better job reviewing the data it collects, thereby seeing what infrastructure and transportation changes are effective in reducing traffic deaths, and which aren’t.

“The City can’t make progress if it’s not closely monitoring what’s working,” read a news release sent out by the Coalition. “More resources must be dedicated to evaluating the efficacy of past efforts.”

Related to the analysis of data is the request that San Francisco learn from its mistakes, and focus on proven strategies that work. “Don’t waste time on efforts that haven’t been successful,” the Coalition wrote.

The argument behind the latter two requests is that The City is more likely to reach its goals when there is oversight of its activities. Simply creating new infrastructure and not studying the results of its effects on those who use it marks a loss of information that could inform future projects.

“Like all resolutions, The City’s re-commitment to Vision Zero will require willpower from City leaders and staff,” stated the Vision Zero Coalition. “Only through steadfast pursuit of these actions, will the City save lives on our streets.”

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