A recent survey conducted by the Bay Citizen is showing that despite being considered one of the top U.S. cities for walking, San Francisco pedestrians don’t always feel safe on city streets. The survey found that nearly half of the 98 respondents wanted increased enforcement from police when it comes to ticketing drivers and cyclists. Additionally, several respondents campaigned for lower speed limits as well as putting an end to drivers making right turns on a red light.

Although the survey was far from scientific, it does highlight an important perception among many pedestrians that San Francisco’s streets aren’t as safe as they should be. Despite consistently ranking as one of the most “walkable” cities in the country, Bay Citizen readers rated San Francisco a mere 4.6 out of 10 when it comes to pedestrian safety.

Among the intersections people cited as being particularly dangerous were those along three of the city’s largest thoroughfares: Market Street, Van Ness Ave and Masonic Ave. Each of those streets was cited by over 20 percent of respondents as being particularly dangerous for pedestrians. Approximately 15 percent also mentioned the South of Market area as being potentially hazardous.

Compounding concerns over safety was finger pointing among respondents over who should be blamed for the recent rise in pedestrian accidents. Last year saw the highest number of accidents involving pedestrians since 2003 and there have already been 11 pedestrian fatalities so far this year. But, with drivers directing blame at careless pedestrians and pedestrians claiming motorists don’t pay attention to anyone not in a car, it’s hard to determine the best course of action.

Speed limits have been reduced from 30 mph to 25 along four South of Market streets, but according to the survey pedestrians still feel drivers are going too fast. Police have also increased enforcement along several corridors where there have been serious or fatal collisions.

However, as one respondent pointed out, making the city’s streets safer should be a community effort. Doug Broussard tells the Bay Citizen, “Each group of people (car drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists) who use the road feels utterly entitled to their behavior. Pedestrians could put down the phones and look both ways before entering the intersection. Car drivers could actually pay attention to anything without wheels and an engine. Perhaps everyone can stop behaving like groups of angry children on the playground.”

Hopefully the survey helps contribute to a more constructive debate surrounding what we can do to increase street safety. As Broussard pointed out, playing the blame game doesn’t benefit anyone, and taking the divisive approach of pedestrians versus motorists doesn’t benefit either group. Street safety needs to be a collaborative effort, and regardless of what side you’re on, everyone should be able to agree that reducing pedestrian fatalities would be a step in the right direction.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dominikmorbitzer/6172903880/


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Andy Gillin

Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Andy is a highly recognized wrongful death lawyer in California.