San Francisco is on track to implement 40 highly visible pedestrian safety projects by January 2016 as it strives to eliminate traffic fatalities within the decade under a Vision Zero policy recently adopted by city officials.
But reaching that goal could be complicated by the decision not to place a vehicle license fee increase on the November ballot this year, as was recommended by the mayor’s transportation task force.
Mayor Ed Lee decided against placing the measure on the November ballot, and the Board of Supervisors had a chance to submit a measure on its own Tuesday but decided not to go against the mayor.
Instead, the parties agreed to commit to placing the vehicle license fee increase on the November 2016 ballot.
“In terms of moving forward on Vision Zero, obviously money matters,” Supervisor Scott Wiener said during Thursday’s San Francisco County Transportation Authority board hearing.
Wiener said that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s budget for the year beginning July 1, 2015 had assumed that $33 million in revenue would come from the vehicle license fee increase, of which a portion would go toward Vision Zero projects. The Mayor’s Office has found $7 million to help close the gap, Wiener said.
“We are getting really good momentum,” he said. “We can’t afford to lose two years because of a political decision made to go to November 2016 with the vehicle license fee.”
Ed Reiskin, director of transportation at the SFMTA, said he had not discussed funding with the mayor since the board’s decision Tuesday to postpone going to this year’s ballot with the vehicle license fee hike. “We have a year to figure that out, working with the Mayor’s Office,” Reiskin said.
A focus on roadway safety comes as fatalities on city streets have increased in recent years — with 21 pedestrian and four bicyclist deaths in 2013.
Under the proposal, the vehicle license fee would increase from 0.65 percent of a vehicle’s value to 2 percent, restoring a cut made under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. It would generate $1 billion for The City over the next 15 years, according to estimates.
Meanwhile, the agency is working to implement 40 road safety projects by January 2016.
“We are anticipating that projects are going to be rolling out and be delivered on a constant basis over the next year and a half,” said Seleta Reynolds, Livable Streets manager at the SFMTA.
Bicycle and pedestrian safety projects range from roadway work like sidewalk bulb outs, to allow for shorter crossing distances and greater visibility, to changing the timing of traffic signals to allow for bicycles to catch green lights along well-traveled corridors.