At this morning’s Walk to Work Day press conference, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin announced a plan to implement 24 bike and pedestrian safety projects over the next 24 months [PDF]. This is the most concrete safety plan unveiled so far, ever since city leaders pledged to pursue Vision Zero.
The projects (listed below) include bulb-outs, traffic signal changes, road diets, turn restrictions, and even a conceptual “raised cycletrack” on upper Market Street. Half the projects are funded (one “partially”), and the SFMTA hasn’t assigned an order to them yet. Some of the projects have already been in planning, like the Second Street and Polk Street redesigns, and at some locations the “WalkFirst improvements” have yet to be designed.
Vision Zero “is something that we’re united around as a city family,” said Reiskin on the steps of City Hall, surrounded by a full roster of elected officials and department heads, minus Mayor Ed Lee.
The 24-project list wasn’t heavily discussed at the city’s second official Walk to Work Day press conference, where city leaders re-iterated the urgency of Vision Zero — the goal of ending traffic deaths within 10 years. Every member of the Board of Supervisors and other officials walked to City Hall, starting at points around the city. The furthest trekkers included Reiskin, who walked from west of Twin Peaks; Supervisor Eric Mar, from Arguello Boulevard; and Supervisor John Avalos, from the Excelsior.
Walk SF also presented a “report card” grading pedestrian safety in San Francisco:
- Overall progress towards Vision Zero: C+
- Walkability: A+
- Pedestrian Safety: D+
- Funding: D+
- Engineering: C+
- Enforcement: B
- Education and Outreach: B-
“We have the fabric of a walkable city,” said Walk SF Executive Director Nicole Schneider. “But unfortunately, we have a relic of an older generation with our transportation system. We have streets that were designed for speed and not for safety… This isn’t something that our current administration came up with, but it’s going to take a lot of funding and a lot of work to change.”
Supervisor Jane Kim, who participated in Walk to Work Day before it was even made official, noted that just yesterday, a three-year-old boy was critically injured by a pickup truck driver while riding his bike in a crosswalk at Fulton Street and 43rd Avenue in the Outer Richmond.
“This is impacting lives right at this moment,” said Kim. “There’s nothing that highlights this more than going to a funeral and holding the hands of grieving family and friends who unnecessarily lost the lives of their loved ones.”
The speeches, from city supervisors and from leaders in transportation and law enforcement, showed a keen understanding of the urgency of making streets safer, both through engineering and through enforcement that targets the most dangerous traffic violations.
“We’re in a place today where we haven’t been before — we have a commitment across the board from our community and our city family to make [Vision Zero] a reality,” said District Attorney George Gascón, who announced plans in February to create a dedicated vehicular manslaughter unit. “We’re committed to ensuring that those that can cause the most harm, which are obviously the ones who are operating motor vehicles, understand that sharing the road when driving carries a much greater responsibility.”
Even Mayor Lee and and SF Fire Chief Johanne Hayes-White seem to be grasping that. Although Lee didn’t attend the press conference (he was with Nancy Pelosi, announcing that Salesforce will occupy the Transbay Tower), he and Hayes-White are two of the city officials featured in a new series of TV spots released for the “Be Nice, Look Twice” campaign. Lee, Hayes-White, and SFPD Chief Greg Suhr are shown in the ads listing the top three causes of pedestrian injuries: drivers’ failure to yield, red light running, and speeding.
One ad in the series also features Supervisor Norman Yee saying that he was hit by a driver in 2006 “and still [has] yet to fully recover,” and another two versions of the ads feature the family of 21-year-old Dylan Mitchell, who was killed while riding his bike by a truck driver at 16th Street and South Van Ness Avenue.
Here’s Lee’s TV spot, followed by the list of 24 projects. Read more from the Walk to Work Day event at SF Appeal.