Pedestrians walking fine line on San Francisco streets

The dense, hilly layout of San Francisco may be a haven for pedestrians who want to take a stroll and catch views of the scenic vistas, but there’s some risk for walkers on those ventures.

Nearly half the traffic fatalities in San Francisco are pedestrians, a rate that is more than four times the national average, new data show.
The gamble of walking down the streets of The City was part of a nationwide survey that found the San Francisco region, which includes Oakland and Fremont, to have the second-highest percentage of traffic deaths among major cities in the country.

About 27 percent of traffic deaths in the region are pedestrians, a ratio that is trumped only by the 31 percent registered in the New York metropolitan area, according to the study by Transportation for America, which is a coalition of transit, housing and planning groups. It studied safety and traffic statistics for 52 major cities and their surrounding areas.

When San Francisco is looked at independently, however, those numbers are even worse, according to Walk San Francisco, a local pedestrian advocacy organization.

Using the same data that Transportation for America collected, Walk S.F. and its president, Manish Champsee, broke down the statistics for San Francisco alone and found that The City has a pedestrian fatality rate of 2.6 deaths per 100,000 people, a total that is 70 percent higher than the national average. Additionally, nearly 48 percent of traffic fatalities are pedestrians, a rate that is more than four times the national average of 11.8 percent.

Champsee said only 0.5 percent of transportation funding in San Francisco goes toward pedestrian-related projects, but the national average is 1.5 percent.

“We need to find some permanent funding source to really bring this city forward,” he said. “We can do that by exploring all options at the state, local and federal level, and really prioritizing pedestrian upgrades here.”

The Municipal Transportation Agency, which manages pedestrian policies in San Francisco, plans to lobby federal officials for increased funding for pedestrian projects, according to spokesman Judson True.

In the meantime, the transit agency has worked with the Planning Department to create the Better Streets Plan, a comprehensive set of improvements aimed at enhancing the pedestrian experience in The City. It also installed countdown signals at about 900 traffic lights and undertook a series of pedestrian upgrades on 19th Avenue.

The pedestrian study by Transportation for America did find that aside from pedestrian deaths, the San Francisco region fared well in pedestrian safety, ranking safer than 39 of the 52 areas detailed.

“San Francisco is a great walking city, but we can always do more,” True said. “We’ve got the pieces in place to continue ongoing pedestrian improvements.”

Where pedestrian deaths are highest nationwide   

City* Pedestrian fatalities 2007   Pedestrian  fatalities 2008  Percentage of residents who walk to work   Percentage of traffic deaths involving pedestrians
New York    316    317    6.0    31.1
San Francisco    64    72    3.9    27.7
Los Angeles    247    244    2.7    26.9
Miami    178    151    1.7    22.5
Tampa, Fla.    98    94    1.7    22.4

* Metropolitan areas
Source: Transportation for America

Taking a risk every time you walk

Pedestrian deaths in The City are much higher than the national average.

Traffic deaths involving pedestrians:

San Francisco 47.7% 

National Average 11.8%

 

Pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people:

San Francisco  2.6% 

National Average  1.53%
  
Source: Walk San Francisco

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

From left, California state Sen. Milton Marks, Sen. Nicholas Petris, Assemblyman John Knox and Save San Francisco Bay Association co-founders Esther Gulick, Sylvia McLaughlin and Kay Kerr watch Gov. Ronald Reagan sign the bill establishing the Bay Conservation and Development Commission as a permanent agency in 1969. (Courtesy Save The Bay)
Sixty years of Saving San Francisco Bay

Pioneering environmental group was started by three ladies on a mission

Temporary high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be added to sections of state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101, including Park Presidio Boulevard, to keep traffic flowing as The City reopens. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Transit and high-occupancy vehicle lanes coming to some of The City’s busiest streets

Changes intended to improve transit reliability as traffic increases with reopening

Tents filled up a safe camping site in a former parking lot at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin in June 2020.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Proposal for major expansion of safe sleeping sites gets cool reception in committee

Supervisor Mandelman calls for creation of more temporary shelter sites to get homeless off streets

A surplus of	mice on the Farallon Islands have caused banded burrowing owls to stay year round instead of migrating, longtime researchers say. <ins>(Courtesy Point Blue Conservation Science)</ins>
Farallon Islands researchers recommend eradicating mice

The Farallon Islands comprise three groups of small islands located nearly 30… Continue reading

Once we can come and go more freely, will people gather the way they did before COVID? <ins>(Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner file photo)</ins>
What happens when the pandemic is over?

After experiencing initial excitement, I wonder just how much I’ll go out

Most Read