For some reason, the fact that nearly 650 people are killed in pedestrian accidents each year in California alone, has not prompted state lawmakers to get serious about cutting down on pedestrian accidents. As fatal pedestrian accidents continue to pile up, the city has had a difficult time coming up with funds for safe streets programs, due to its already tight budget. But a new Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee report has found that the 800+ San Francisco pedestrian crashes each year leave the city with a $76 million injury bill, suggesting that making the streets safer for pedestrians would not only save lives, but also save San Francisco a bundle in cash.
Skeptics are correct, sometimes surprisingly so, that road safety improvements are absurdly expensive. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency predicts, for example, that a new crosswalk costs upwards of $10,000, and a “complete street,” packed with safety features, would cost $1 million per block. But these investments “pale in comparison” to being on the hook for lawsuits and emergency room visits, which cost the city an average of $80,000 per injured pedestrian, said SFMTA Deputy Director of Transportation Planning Tim Papandreou.
Recent events have proven, more than ever, San Francisco’s urgent need for a strong road safety plan and pedestrian safety improvements. Last month, three pedestrians were killed in only four days on San Francisco streets. And last Monday, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Matt Smith witnessed a jogger get blindsided by an SUV going 30 miles per hour. The jogger was sent flying through the air and was transported to the hospital with what appeared to be a severely broken leg.
The PSAC predicts that pedestrian injuries comprise a quarter of San Francisco catastrophic injuries and cost the city at least $15 million in medical treatment. Meanwhile, the city budget puts aside less than $1 million for pedestrian improvement projects, an amount that barely makes a dent when something as simple as a crosswalk costs $10,000. But if such projects make a significant impact on San Francisco pedestrian accidents, then the city will save a fortune in the long run.
Photo credit: mrjorgen