Mandatory 15 mph speed limits near all school zones, increased investment on injury prediction models, and focused enforcement efforts in dangerous areas are all part of a new initiative aimed at reducing serious and fatal pedestrian injuries in San Francisco by 25 percent during the next five years.
On average, 22 pedestrians are killed each year in San Francisco and 800 are injured, a rate that means over two walkers are hurt every day on city streets. Almost 50 percent of all traffic deaths in San Francisco are pedestrians, which is more than four times the national average.
As The San Francisco Examiner reported in November, the pedestrian accidents in San Francisco not only carry an obvious emotional toll, but also an economic one, as $280 million was lost in 2008 due to traffic collisions.
To help improve pedestrian safety, Mayor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive directive outlining goals to cut down serious traffic injuries and fatalities 25 percent by 2016, and 50 percent by 2021.
The directive states nine short-term goals, including the plan to reduce speed limits in school zones. State legislation allows for local jurisdictions, such as the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages traffic operations in The City, to establish 15 mph speed limits around all school zones. According to Walk SF, a pedestrian advocacy organization, 15 mph is the threshold for which pedestrians can be struck by a car and survive.
Along with the speed limit reductions, the directive orders new approaches to secure funding for traffic-calming projects, stronger emphasis of pedestrian realms in all planning projects, and increased outreach with community organizations.
Newsom will also create a new Pedestrian Safety Task Force, comprising officials from the SFMTA, the Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Police Department and other city agencies. Lastly, the directive calls for a coordinated Citywide Pedestrian Action Plan to be established within 12 months.
“I think this is a really encouraging step forward,” said Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of Walk SF. “For quite some time, we’ve been working to establish safe school zones and a pedestrian action plan, and both of those components are included in this directive.”