S.F. Examiner File Photo

Breed orders city agencies to step up safety efforts after deadly week on SF streets

In the past week, two people have been killed and others injured in traffic collisions across San Francisco.

In response, Mayor London Breed issued safety directives Wednesday morning aimed at saving lives on The City’s streets.

Breed directed the San Francisco Police Department to increase traffic enforcement, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to boost lighting on corridors proven to be dangerous at night, and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to develop quick-response policies to create near term safety enhancements on dangerous corridors.

“The events of the last week are yet another tragic reminder of how much work we still have to do to ensure that all of our residents are safe on our streets,” said Breed in a statement. “The current pace of traffic safety improvements in San Francisco is unacceptable and I 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.”

Friday saw one fatal crash in Visitacion Valley that killed Gerard Graybosch, 44, as well as three other collisions that caused serious and life-threatening injuries. Another crash in the Richmond District on Tuesday Feb. 26, killed a 64-year-old woman crossing California Street at 18th Avenue.

Just yesterday, another 58-year-old woman was struck as she crossed the street at 10:31 a.m. in the area of Golden Gate Avenue and Leavenworth Street.

Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer, who represents the Richmond District, lauded Breed’s directives in a statement.

“There have been two vehicular fatalities in my district in the last month and both of them involved seniors in the crosswalk,” Fewer said. “This is heartbreaking. We need more enforcement to change the driving habits of people to slow down, yield to pedestrians and eliminate distractions while driving.”

While San Francisco has made progress in reducing traffic deaths on city streets, they still increased to 23 in 2018 compared to 20 in 2017. However, traffic deaths are still down overall from a decade ago after reaching more than 40 in 2007.

Reducing traffic deaths is also difficult as car traffic increases in San Francisco due to a booming Bay Area population, transportation officials have said previously.

“Walk SF thanks Mayor Breed for coming out strong and taking immediate action to save lives, especially after this horrific past week,” said Jodie Medeiros, executive director of advocacy group WalkSF, in a statement. “Installing quick, inexpensive safety improvements on all of our deadliest streets by 2020 will have an impact on dangerous driving behavior.”

Breed’s directive will task SFPD with increasing the volume of traffic tickets for the most dangerous driving behaviors. Police have failed in recent years to meet traffic ticket goals to help pedestrian safety, and the volume of tickets issued by officers has dropped significantly since 2015.

Police are tasked with ticketing drivers found speeding, red-light running, failing to yield to pedestrians while turning, failing to give pedestrians the right of way and running stop signs, as part of an effort called the “Focus on Five,” for the five most dangerous driving behaviors.

From August 2016 to May 2017 roughly 50 percent of all SFPD traffic citations hit the 50 percent Focus on Five goal, but in 2018 SFPD missed that ticketing goal for 11 months.

Breed’s push for a new SFMTA safety treatment policy will task the agency with making short term safety improvements on corridors where longer-term projects are impending.

For instance, a project may not receive long-term safety improvements for years while a project goes through an approvals process. Breed is directing SFMTA to make short-term safety improvements to those corridors in the meantime.

joe@sfexaminer.com

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