Beefed up traffic enforcement coming to vulnerable areas of San Francisco

Cindy Chew/Special to The S.F. ExaminerSlow down: A federal grant will help officers crack down on motorists near schools

Some of The City’s most vulnerable pedestrians will get a boost from increased traffic enforcement efforts next year.

Backed by a $140,000 federal grant, police motorcycle officers will increase their presence outside schools, senior centers and other at-risk sites starting in early 2013. Reducing vehicle speeds will be the main focus, although officers also will crack down on red-light running, stop-light violations and right-of-way infractions against pedestrians.

Motorists who fail to obey pedestrian safety laws will be fined $155.

The enforcement operation will be part of a joint effort between the SFPD and Department of Public Health. Both agencies have stressed that reducing vehicle speeds plays a crucial role in establishing a safe pedestrian environment.

“Research has shown that adhering to speed limits reduces injuries and deaths, especially among seniors and youth who are at high risk,” said Barbara Garcia, director of the Public Health Department.

While The City recently approved plans to establish 15 mph speed limits in 181 school zones across San Francisco, there are still learning institutions located perilously close to fast-moving thoroughfares, according to Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of pedestrian safety organization Walk SF. She said Bessie Carmichael Elementary School on Seventh Street in South of Market would be an ideal spot for increased enforcement efforts.

So far, the SFPD has not detailed its deployment strategies.

Stampe said the increased enforcement will be a good first step to improving pedestrian safety in The City, but more action will be necessary in the future.

“This is helpful and we’re glad to have it, but this is a short-term approach,” she said. “We want to see strategic, targeted enforcement all the time.”

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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