Speedsters be warned: Starting next week, the cops are coming for you.
In October, San Francisco will be launching its yearlong Safe Speeds SF campaign, utilizing a $2 million state grant to boost San Francisco Police Department enforcement of drivers who exceed the speed limits on The City’s most treacherous streets.
That means extra police will patrol 12 streets identified as the most dangerous for pedestrians in San Francisco. Their main task is to ticket speedsters.
Despite that mandate, Ed Reiskin, director of transportation at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, told reporters at a Thursday news conference, “Our goal here is not for people to get tickets. We want them to slow down and drive safely.”
To that end, the SFMTA, SFPD, Department of Public Health and other agencies released a map of the streets on which SFPD will target speeding enforcement: Geary Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, 19th Avenue, Stanyan Street, San Jose Avenue, Bayshore Boulevard, Pine Street, Leavenworth Street, 16th Street, Turk Street, Bay Street and Howard Street.
There will also be secondary enforcement corridors where a portion of the boosted enforcement will hit all across The City.
The hope, Reiskin said, is that if the public sees the map and knows the cops will be there ahead of time, drivers will willingly slow down to avoid a $237 ticket.
The streets were chosen because they are among San Francisco’s “high injury corridors,” which are 12 percent of streets where more than 70 percent of collisions occur, according to the health department.
That extra enforcement and accompanying outreach is funded by a state grant which the SFMTA applied for in 2014, according to John Knox-White, an SFMTA planner who is leading the effort.
The enforcement effort is part of The City’s Vision Zero goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2024, and Mayor Ed Lee’s recent executive directive to create safer streets.
“Speed kills,” said Natalie Burdick of the advocacy group Walk SF.
Reiskin said there have been “more than 20” traffic-related deaths this year and others in which people have been critically injured.
Capt. Timothy Oberzier of SFPD’s Traffic Company said all police districts will participate in the effort. “This enforcement campaign is meant to save lives,” Oberzier said Thursday.
Oberzier told the San Francisco Examiner that statistics from the extra speeding enforcement operation will be counted in department totals for the “Focus on Five” effort — SFPD’s mandate to make 50 percent of their traffic tickets include the five most dangerous driving behaviors: speeding, running red lights, failing to yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, failing to yield while making a left or U-turn and failing to fully stop at stop signs.
Tickets against speedsters have already been on the rise.
In August, the most recent data available, the SFPD issued 1,695 speeding tickets. That’s up from 1,025 in August of 2015.
Some of those stations are doing better than others at ticketing dangerous driving behaviors: Taraval Station leads enforcement efforts with 52 percent, while Tenderloin Station lags behind at 18 percent.
Reiskin said this effort would be difficult to make permanent.
About 40 percent of the $2 million is to pay for police related costs including overtime, according to Knox-White, and 32 new Light Detection and Ranging speed detection guns.
The California Highway Patrol trained some SFPD officers in using those LIDAR guns, with a special course just for San Francisco that the CHP paid for.
At the news conference, Supervisor Eric Mar said he was saddened by the “preventable” deaths at the hands of traffic — including that of Alfred Yee, 87, in the Richmond District in March of 2015.
Mar applauded a safety measure with teeth.