Safety advocates throughout San Francisco have been pleased over the past few weeks with the city’s apparent goal to boost programs that would reduce pedestrian accidents in the coming years. Unfortunately, the renewed attention comes as San Francisco has one of the country’s worst records when it comes to pedestrian accidents and infrastructure initiatives designed to make improvements. Although more than 47% of city traffic accidents involve pedestrians (four times the national average), the city only spends $23 per year on pedestrian safety guidelines.
Though a hefty sum, the figure pales in comparison to the $280 million in costs related to traffic accidents San Francisco must pay each year. Lawmakers statewide were surely disappointed to hear that California led the country in 2010 pedestrian accidents. But city officials seem to be shocked into action by a particularly haunting six-day span this March that included three pedestrian fatalities.
At a meeting sponsored by San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu this week, the city’s Transit Agency acknowledged the need for pedestrian improvements but said they are difficult because pedestrian safety falls under the responsibility of a dozen local agencies. Before the city can get started with substantive changes, Chiu suggested that officials designate a single agency to take the lead on pedestrian safety. He also charged the city with developing a comprehensive pedestrian plan with the goal of reducing pedestrian accidents.
Chiu’s steps are encouraging and could potentially address the concern of one Rincon Hill resident who told the San Francisco Examiner “we’ve heard plenty of talk about traffic-calming measures in the neighborhood, but we’ve never seen any action.”
Photo credit: andertho