San Francisco stands to benefit from a campaign launched this week by the U.S. Department of Transportation to reduce risks to pedestrians.
“Everybody is a Pedestrian” was created to “raise awareness of the dangers to pedestrians,” according to the Department of Transportation website.
The federal department estimates that there were nearly 4,500 pedestrian deaths nationwide in 2011. In hopes of addressing that statistic and dropping that number, the department is making six different types of grants available to help fund education and enforcement programs in major cities.
San Francisco qualifies for these grants because the Federal Highway Administration considers it a “focus city” due to its high average of 20 pedestrian fatalities each year, which is a rate of 2.33 per 100,000 residents.
Twenty-seven other cities in 15 states, along with Washington, D.C., also are considered focus cities.
Pedestrians were hit by cars 811 times in San Francisco in 2010 and nearly 20 people had a run-in with a bicycle that same year, according to the Department of Public Health. But it's unknown how many people were killed in those incidents.
But in 2012, it's estimated that 20 people were struck and killed in San Francisco. By March of this year, five pedestrians had been killed.
Elizabeth Stampe, executive director of pedestrian advocate Walk San Francisco, said there are a number of ways to slow traffic and make streets safer, but one of the most important is educating drivers on why slower speeds make a difference.
“A small difference in speed may not be much to a driver, but to a pedestrian a slower speed can be the difference between life and death,” Stampe said. “We want to focus on unsafe speed and why it's a problem and let people know there will be enforcement of the speed limit.”