(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Breed boosting traffic cops, developing more right-turn restrictions for pedestrian safety

In San Francisco so far this year 23 people have died in traffic collisions — just two fewer than have died in homicides.

In an effort to reduce the death toll, Mayor London Breed announced a suite of pedestrian safety initiatives Thursday afternoon.

The City will divert more police officers into a traffic-ticketing unit, develop “policy recommendations” to restrict right turns at red lights, update walk signals to extend the time for pedestrians to cross the street, add new diagonal pedestrian crossings at dangerous intersections, and pilot left-turn traffic calming initiatives to slow drivers down.

Those safety improvements will come before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors, which is appointed by The Mayor’s Office, next Tuesday.

“This year we have been reminded far too often that we have so much more work to do to reduce traffic fatalities in our City and make our streets safe,” Breed said in a statement. “This package of safety improvements is going to make a number of important improvements at dangerous intersections to keep people safe.”

The left-turn traffic calming pilots will be “installed and evaluated” at eight intersections by early 2020, according to The Mayor’s Office, which will see methods to reduce the turning speed of drivers turning left so they don’t strike and injure, or kill, pedestrians.

In the last five years, 27 percent of severe and fatal collisions involved a turning vehicle, most of them turning left, according to the SFMTA.

As for the police, the department launched a new pilot program where motorcycle-riding Traffic Company officers exclusively focused on ticketing drivers using the most dangerous driving behaviors — speeding, violating pedestrian right-of-way in a crosswalk, running red lights, running stop signs, and failing to yield while turning.

The team has issued 400 citations so far, with “99 percent” in those dangerous driving categories, which prompted SFPD to double the size of their program to eight Traffic Company officers.

That’s key, as data shows SFPD has not met its own stated goal to consistently make 50 percent of all traffic tickets “Focus on Five” since May 2017. There was one month since 2017 when they did, in April this year, but that is an anomaly in what is otherwise a downward trend.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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