New pedestrian banners were unveiled in SoMa on Wednesday, encouraging drivers to slow down. (Connor Hunt/Special to S.F. Examiner)

New pedestrian banners were unveiled in SoMa on Wednesday, encouraging drivers to slow down. (Connor Hunt/Special to S.F. Examiner)

New safety banners fly high

City leaders are throwing the kitchen sink at stemming pedestrian deaths on San Francisco streets. The Police Department is issuing tickets in record number, the streets are being ripped apart to be rebuilt safer and safety funding is flowing.

Amid these is a humbler measure, but important just the same to safety, advocates say.

Starting Wednesday, pedestrian safety banners are newly flying in the South of Market neighborhood.

“Slow down! We live here,” is the simple message of these banners, festooned to street lights all along SoMa, featuring a photo of a local resident, Debi Gould.

It’s the latest effort in the Vision Zero safety policy, co-authored by supervisors Jane Kim, John Avalos and Norman Yee, and tasks The City with reducing traffic-related deaths in San Francisco to zero by 2024.

The flag-flying effort targets streets that planners declared among San Francisco’s most dangerous streets. Nearly 60 percent of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths occur on 6 percent of San Francisco streets, primarily located in the Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods.

“We definitely want to focus on high injury corridors,” Supervisor Kim, who championed Vision Zero, told the Examiner. But, she noted, “This is just one component.”

In Vision Zero parlance those components are known as the “three E’s,” education, enforcement and engineering. But now, Kim said, they’re concerned with a fourth “E”: Evaluation. Kim wants results.

And those results are coming in. At a recent Police Commission meeting, police reported drivers are driving more safely along corridors police targeted with increased ticketing. Still, 15 people have died walking and biking so far this year, according to the SFPD. Zero people have died in autos in San Francisco.

“It feels like everyone is on board, it does,” Kim said. “But for a full cultural shift, I’m not sure we’re there yet.”
pedestrian safetyTransitVision Zero

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