S.F. challenged to reduce bike fatalities, ramp up safety efforts 1

A report released earlier this week is urging San Francisco’s mayor and Board of Supervisors to increase efforts to reduce bike fatalities, calling for an ultimate goal of “zero bike fatalities.” Although the report [PDF] gave credit to the city for supporting and bolstering bike transportation, it also called for significant increases in bike safety.

In the report, the civil grand jury recommended expanding bike safety education for riders and non-riders alike, as well as suggesting increased enforcement of the existing traffic laws. As a recent article from SF Bay pointed out scofflaw cyclists also pose a safety risk, both to themselves and others. When a cyclist strikes a 50-year-old woman while she’s walking on the sidewalk, it’s a serious problem.

The report states, “San Francisco should and can do more to maximize safety for its roadway users,” laying out four key recommendations for improving bike safety:

  • Bicycle safety education should be continued, expanded, and extended to noncyclists and motorists. SFMTA should actively promote bicycle safety education classes through aggressive outreach and publicity efforts, incentives for participation in bicycling workshops, and availability of bicycle training classes for businesses.
  • SFPD should expand officer training related to bicycle safety and enforcement.
  • SFPD should update its citation form to include bicycle infractions.
  • City leaders should lend support to SFPD in its efforts to successfully enforce roadway laws and should adopt a San Francisco Bicycle Enforcement Safety Agreement that targets two key goals: zero bicycle fatalities and fifty percent annual reduction in bicycle collisions.

The report encourages city officials to take ownership of this cause, stating, “Let us not wait until the next bicycle-related accident makes headlines. Let us plan and address these concerns now.”

As we’ve written before, finding the line between education and enforcement isn’t easy. City officials will have their work cut out for them if they hope to reduce bike fatalities to zero.

Programs like the recent video instructing muni drivers how to better share the road with cyclists are definitely a start. Also, it would appear bike citations in San Francisco are on a slight uptick (increasing 25% from 2011 to 2012) but they still comprised less than 2,000 total citations for all of 2012.

Ultimately, reducing bike fatalities to zero is an incredibly lofty goal. But, as the committee’s chairwoman stated, “It’s really important that we have some sort of goal in mind and really set our sights high.”

Now that the bar is set, let’s see where the city goes from here.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesbondsv/5559178555/

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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.