A broad coalition of San Francisco community groups — led by Walk San Francisco and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition — are calling on City leaders to commit to a “Vision Zero” policy to eliminate traffic deaths in San Francisco over the next 10 years, including immediate action from Mayor Lee, Police Chief Suhr and SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin.
On Tuesday, Supervisors Jane Kim, Norman Yee and John Avalos introduced a resolution, calling on the City to officially adopt Vision Zero, ushering this crucial street safety initiative forward.
The coalition of community groups (see full list at end) call on the Mayor to publicly commit to taking immediate actions to reduce and eventually eliminate traffic fatalities:
- Direct the SF Municipal Transportation Agency to create a Strategic Street Action Team to deliver at least two dozen on-the-ground improvements within the next two years at high-injury locations, particularly in SoMa and the Tenderloin, by day-lighting intersections and adding safer crossings for pedestrian safety and adding protected bikeways for the growing number of people bicycling;
- Require the SF Police Department to prioritize their Focus on Five policy to focus enforcement on the most dangerous locations and behaviors on the streets, particularly driving at unsafe speeds and failure to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk; to properly cite and investigate traffic crimes; and to ensure all police officers receive ongoing training in pedestrian and bicycle safety;
- Commit funding to and implement a robust frequent driver education program by summer for the growing number of commercial drivers, including those working for City agencies, rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft, employer shuttles, and all companies doing business in and with the City of San Francisco.
Transportation advocates and City leaders call for action:
“San Francisco has had the most dangerous streets in the state for too long,” said Nicole Schneider, Executive Director of Walk SF. “After 21 pedestrian deaths in 2013, four cyclists deaths, and over a half a dozen crashes since New Year’s Eve, the City must not delay. Walk SF and its members, in unison with the SF Bicycle Coalition and other groups, are calling for an end to the serious injuries and deaths plaguing San Francisco.”
“For too long, City leaders have accepted a certain amount of death and destruction on our streets as a basic ‘cost of doing business’, but no more,” said Leah Shahum, of the SF Bicycle Coalition. “These tragic incidents are preventable, and we demand that our elected leaders perform their most basic job of keeping citizens safe in the public realm. It’s a simple choice: Will our City prioritize safe movement on the streets or not?
“Our Pedestrian Strategy’s goals of cutting pedestrian injuries and fatalities in half by 2021 is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough,” said Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the district with the highest number of traffic collisions. “The City has been experiencing this public health crisis for years, and last year we hit a near-record high for traffic fatalities. A Vision Zero policy that commits to clear and decisive near-term actions for better engineering, enforcement and education to cut traffic fatalities to zero in the next 10 years is critical if we’re serious about saving lives.”
If Vision Zero is adopted, San Francisco will follow other major U.S cities, including Chicago and New York City, which have already adopted Vision Zero policies to eliminate traffic fatalities on their streets.
On Thursday, January 16th at 5pm at City Hall, frustrated community members will be looking to SF Police Chief Greg Suhr to publicly commit to Vision Zero and immediate actions to make our streets safer as the SF Police Commission and SF Board of Supervisors’ Neighborhood Services & Safety Committee convene together. This special hearing is focused on the SF Police Department’s enforcement of bike- and pedestrian-related incidents, which is being questioned in light of SFPD missteps and lack of urgency in citing and investigating the city’s record number of traffic and serious injuries.
“We are looking to the leadership of the SF Police Department to do their part to make our streets safer,” says Supervisor David Campos, who chairs the Board of Supervisor’s Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee. “I called for this special joint hearing between the Police Commission and the Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee because this issue merits serious, ongoing attention. In order to prevent these tragic deaths we must strengthen traffic enforcement and improve the quality of police investigations of traffic collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians.”
Groups that work with low-income residents in the SoMa and Central Districts especially understand the importance of Vision Zero in keeping residents safe.
“The low-income community is home to many seniors and disabled people and it’s unacceptable for the law-enforcement to let these fatalities go unnoticed. There is a trend here and that trend is a danger to pedestrians and community members. I’ve seen residents in wheelchairs absolutely refuse to cross the street from fear of getting hit by a car. We need to prevent such fears and take action against those who commit the crimes that instill those fears in the minds and hearts of many in the first place,” said Priya Sawhney or the Central City SRO Collaborative.
“Lack of traffic safety disproportionately impacts people in low income communities like the Tenderloin. We have lost too many friends and family to a tragic problem that is totally preventable, if we can bring focus and political will to solving it,” said Dan Falk of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.
“It’s been a deadly December. When three people are killed within a span of roughly one week, it is cause for alarm,” said Phil Chin of Chinatown TRIP.
“It’s been so heart-breaking to see a little girl, a senior, a senior riding bike and my good friend all killed by vehicles recently in San Francisco. Enough tears have been shed. Let’s do something together to slow traffic down and make it safer – now!” said Rev. Norman Fong of Chinatown Community Development Center.
The San Francisco School District has also signed on to Vision Zero, recognizing the importance of creating safe streets for our youngest residents, and ensuring a safe, thriving city for the next generation.
“Every day 55,000 students make the trip from home to school and back again. Because of their size and relative inexperience, kids are the most vulnerable street users. Improving the safety of our streets is therefore an investment in the future of our students,” said Nik Kaestner, SFUSD Director of Sustainability.
San Francisco groups who support Vision Zero:
CA Walks, CC Puede, Central City SRO Collaborative, Chinatown Community Development Center, Chinatown TRIP, Community Housing Partnership, Excelsior Action Group, Folks for Polk, Friends of Monterey Blvd., Livable City, Mission Community Market, Mission Economic Development Association, North of Panhandle Neighborhood Association, Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, SF Housing Action Coalition, SF Bay Walks, San Francisco Unified School District, Tenderloin Housing Clinic, Tenderloin Neighborhood Development, Walk SF, Yerba Buena Alliance