San Francisco joins Vision Zero program

San Francisco has joined forces with nine American cities to jointly study traffic deaths — and help develop a plan to stop them.

The Vision Zero Network late Tuesday announced San Francisco has committed to join the Vision Zero Focus Cities program, to collaborate best practices on ending traffic deaths. That includes pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and anyone sharing American streets.

The end goal, according to Vision Zero Network, is to develop a “successful American prototype” of Vision Zero to serve as a model for other communities.

Vision Zero is a policy statement committed to by cities nationwide to reduce traffic fatalities to zero. In San Francisco, that goal is slated to be met by 2024.

There are three prongs to the effort: enforcement of traffic laws, educating the public about roads and engineering streets to be safer.

“These cities are the pioneers who will save lives by modernizing our approach to traffic safety,” said Leah Shahum, director of the Vision Zero Network, a national nonprofit campaign.

Shahum was also past director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The Vision Zero Network is supported in part by Kaiser Permanente.

As the network announced San Francisco’s participation in the national effort to end traffic deaths, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Board of Directors met for their annual retreat.

During the daylong workshop, SFMTA Sustainable Streets Director Tom Maguire touted the agency’s successes in tackling traffic deaths. The sustainable streets division completed 24 safety streetscape projects in 2015, he said.

In 2015, stop signs were installed at 60 intersections in The City, safer high-visibility crosswalks were installed at 200 intersections and safer sidewalk “bulb-outs” were installed at 15 intersections, according to the SFMTA.

Despite progress, Cathy DeLuca from advocacy group Walk SF said there hasn’t been enough progress.

San Francisco saw 31 traffic fatalities in 2014, according to data from Vision Zero SF, and there were 29 traffic deaths logged by The City’s medical examiner, as KQED reported.

“Our streets are changing a lot, but somehow we’re not seeing results yet,” DeLuca told the SFMTA board.

“We have eight years left. Are we going to get there doing what we’re doing now?” she asked, adding that San Francisco being named a “focus city” means it is now a Vision Zero “leader.” That means a grander safety vision is needed.

“It’s a big goal,” she said. “It’s going to take big changes and guts.”

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