ABC 7’s “I-Team” #DidntLook at the Real Dangers for Pedestrians in SF

ABC 7’s “I-Team,” lead by reporter Dan Noyes, had a major opportunity to give viewers an accurate picture of what’s causing pedestrian deaths,” as the headline of its latest segment suggests. But Noyes didn’t let the facts get in the way of producing a pedestrian-shaming piece, at the end of which he asked viewers to tweet about self-endangering pedestrians with the hashtag #DidntLook.

Image: ABC 7

ABC did put some of those pesky facts in the segment, like the SFPD statistics that two-thirds of pedestrian crashes are primarily the fault of the driver. (Noyes, however, made no mention of the fact that driver error accounts for the top five most common violations.) But why should the I-Team’s “investigation” allow rigorous data to spoil the slant of the segment — which was mainly focused on shaming people crossing the street against lights and outside of crosswalks?

As it happens, #DidntLook backfired. Search the hashtag on Twitter, and you’ll find across-the-board criticism of the segment. Noyes tried to counter some of the jabs himself, arguing that it’s just pedestrians’ turn for an I-Team segment, since they’ve done pieces on drivers and bicycle riders. Because that’s how journalism is supposed to work — everybody gets a turn. Next up for the I-Team: a hard-hitting look at the menace of babies in strollers.

By the way, Noyes is capable of better stuff. His most recent bicycle-related segment, “I-Team gets street view from cyclists,” wasn’t as egregious, telling stories through footage submitted by cyclists.

Here are some prime cuts from the #DidntLook discussion:





  • velopal

    @dannoyes I’m a regular bike commuter & for years have ridden up Market st. from the ferry to civic center. I have seen many pedestrians stare at their phone on the sidewalk, then look up at the light rather than oncoming traffic, creating close calls. But by FAR the largest number of near misses I’ve watched have come from drivers who #didn’tlook before they turned, opened a door, changed lanes or all too commonly ran red lights to beat the traffic. The worst are drivers who DO look and try to edge bikes and pedestrians off the road.

  • murphstahoe

    No comment from Noyes about the reporter looking at the camera instead of the white truck that cuts right behind him at 2:26?

  • machoman510

    I wonder if there are any studies on the impact of having a countdown timer with respect to pedestrian safety.

  • jd_x

    It is so irritating to watch yet another mindless report by crappy local news outlets. I’m amazed at just how bad — and how ridiculously car-centric — local news is, time and time again. It’s unbelievable to me that we can even think that the punishment a pedestrian should get for not paying attention or doing something technically illegal (which is still the minority of the time based on the data, which by the way, we know is biased against pedestrians) is death or serious injury. Is that really the kind of city we want to have, one where 4000 lb hunks of steel with drivers whose senses are dulled are allowed to dominate? It’s utterly irrational to me that in 2014 we can’t expect a more nuanced and progressive view on the issue from local news.

  • Gang of One

    Anyone who lives in San Francisco knows that drivers texting or talking on their phone is more prevalent and a far greater and traffic and safety hazard than distracted pedestrians.

  • Greg

    It’s not a punishment – it’s simply the result (sometimes) of illegal ped action. What’s your solution? Car accidentally kills ped due to ped illegal action. How do you suggest we prevent that? Let me guess, your solution is to ban all cars/buses/trucks from SF.

  • murphstahoe

    Things like lowering the speed limit or eliminating right on red wold not ban cars and would prevent pedestrian deaths due to both illegal ped action (by lowering speeds) and illegal car action (unless that illegal car action happened to be “speeding”)

    The reaction from those who drive a lot might be “why am I being punished because the pedestrians are doing something illegal”, the counter argument of course is that *most* of the pedestrian involved accidents are due to motorists doing something illegal.

    I mean jaywalking sure but we have cars spinning off of MUNI rails and ramming into schools. I’m just more worried about that sort of thing. Because if I decide I am going to be a super careful pedestrian, and never break any laws, that’s not going to save me from a car careening onto the sidewalk.

  • caryl

    It seems to me that these efforts are focusing on pedestrians who might intentionally be distracted or crossing illegally, but don’t address at all those who are disproportionately represented among pedestrian injuries and fatalities: seniors, children, the disabled (mentally as well as physically). As @jd_x:disqus says, do we really want streets where the ‘result’ of making a mistake or not being able to keep up is serious injury or death? How are streets like that livable for anyone? Much as I would love to live in a city without the noise, pollution, and bodily harm that motorized vehicles cause, I’m not advocating that they be banned. However, we know for a fact that slower vehicle speeds give *all* pedestrians – even those who are slow, impulsive, distracted, or otherwise impaired – a fighting chance of survival. As an added bonus, slower vehicle speeds also reduce the risk of death and injury for people on bikes *and* in cars. So why aren’t we focused on that as a way to make our streets safer?

  • Greg

    As much as it would annoy me as a part-time driver, they really should just ban right on red in SF. The current speed limits are OK, in my opinion, if they were just enforced.

  • jd_x

    Here’s an analogy: on Highway 1, motorists sometimes make mistakes and fall off the cliff, so government installs guard rails. Here’s another: cars on freeways are going 65 mph and there are lots of big, dangerous trucks, so government installs/adds medians so if a motorist makes a mistake, the likelihood of a head-on collision is reduced. Do you agree with these measures? According to the opinion you’ve expressed, you don’t right? I mean, live and let live; why should the government build our roads to protect people from their own stupid mistakes, right? If motorists aren’t doing anything wrong, why should they be going off the road (except barring freak accidents which are a tiny minority of car collisions).

    Of course, I’m willing to bet you agree with these measures, in which case you have a classic case of car bias: it’s okay to continual improve our roads to protect *motorists* from mistakes, but not pedestrians (or cyclists).

    You’re also being extreme to set up a straw man argument: you don’t have to ban cars to massively reduce pedestrians injuries and deaths. Instead, you just need to design the roads in a city like SF to prioritize the safety of the most vulnerable *assuming* mistakes will be made because we all make mistakes and it’s a cold, dark place that thinks pedestrians should be snuffed out for trying to use the streets as they were meant to be used for thousands of years before the last century and the introduction of the automobile. There are all kinds of ways to design streets so the safety of vulnerable road users is given priority rather than (the current situation where) the speed/convenience of the automobile. We also need enforcement by police when motorists break the rules and thereby the trust that they are given when they are allowed to operate anywhere near completely unprotected pedestrians and cyclists. So again, no need to paint this in such an extreme light where somehow the only solution is to ban cars. We can do much, much better as a society.

  • murphstahoe

    Data shows a drastic reduction in the percentages of crashes that are fatal as speeds drop from 30 to 20.

  • EastBayer

    Sure, not every pedestrian is paying attention, but not every pedestrian CAN pay attention, so that’s not a realistic standard or strategy – and frankly, it’s the latter group that is getting killed. Conversely, every driver MUST pay attention, as basic driving skills are, rightly, a requirement of the privilege.

  • Greg

    What infrastructure do we need to put in place to protect the 8,768 peds in SF that cross in the middle of the street each day in front of cars that can’t be bothered to walk 30 feet to the light?

  • jd_x

    Read this blog a bit to learn how you can make streets safe for pedestrians. Northern European cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen have a fraction of the pedestrian injuries and deaths we have. In fact, even in the US, SF is one of the worst cities for pedestrians injuries and deaths. To act like there is nothing more we can do is unacceptable.

    First step: lower speed limits: “20 is plenty”. If a car is going slow, even if they hit a pedestrian, odds are greatly improved that the pedestrian will have much less severe injuries and fatalities are very rare. You can search the internet for such info, but here’s one for you:

    And if you’re going to get into the whole “pedestrians are lazy because they don’t want to walk 30 extra feet”, well that applies 100-fold to motorists who are too damn lazy to move themselves even zero feet while risking the safety of all those who choose to do so (not to mention trashing the planet). Using the lazy argument against pedestrians is a non-starter.

  • Dave Moore

    SF is one of the worst cities for pedestrians injuries and deaths

    Citation please.

    The last time I saw any data on this we looked to be in the middle for the US, and maybe even low given our density, the amount of walking done and the large number of commuters and tourists. Perhaps you mean worldwide, but even then I’m not sure where we would rank.

  • Agree with pretty much all the earlier comments! I don’t see the point in “pedestrian shaming”, when drivers are so disproportionately the cause of such incidents. However, I will say- if someone wants to make the point that pedestrian behavior is one piece of the puzzle, the following performance piece video is a better model- I could see its humor and non-histrionic tone having a better effect in the long run.

  • Dan Noyes

    Not true. I answered the post and said I looked at the beginning of my appearance on camera, saw the truck stopped and walked across.

  • s4p

    I believe the report highlighted that 2/3rds of accidents are caused by cars… 1/3rd stemming from pedestrians is still a substantial amount. So bottom line? Pedestrians should also be as safe as possible when traversing the streets of San Francisco or any other locale. Nowhere in this report did I see Dan Noyes discount the impact of sloppy driving. He is literally just highlighting the pedestrian portion of the accident equation. He is not absolving any party of blame. I too am a cyclist and often pedestrian on our streets and yes, neither parties are particularly perfect. Drivers aren’t either. Be safe. Give right of way if you can. Take it if available/safe. Live another day…

  • jd_x

    First, the person operating the vehicle with the most power and weight has the greatest responsibility — it’s ridiculous to say that pedestrians and motorists are the same. We all make mistakes regardless of mode of transit, but doing so inside a 4000 lb vehicle with 200 hp causes way more problems than when using your own legs (walking or bicycling). To present the situation, as this news report did, that pedestrians somehow have equal responsibility as motorists is an anachronistic, car-centric idea form many decades ago that needs to end.

    Also, do you think these horrid news channels have 2 programs about distracted driving for every 1 about pedestrians? Of course not, because they suffer from classic windshield perspective. And god forbid they should actually do some research on the livable streets movement and try to figure out how we are slowly waking up to the fact that we can’t build our cities around cars and stop acting like it’s 1970.

  • s4p

    Nobody is constructing a hierarchy of “responsibility”. In a perfect world… sure, your point makes sense. Unfortunately this is not a perfect world, nor are we perfect individuals. The program was being shot from the perspective of the individual pedestrian. What are the risks the individual pedestrian take? That’s how I believe they were presenting it. Sure, your interpretation may differ, but I don’t believe they were making a value judgement about assigning blame or responsibility. Clearly, responsible parties should look out for themselves. People should try to be as safe as possible irrespective of mode of travel. Though we’d like to think we can trust others (and we can to a certain degree) the only real thing you can rely on controlling is yourself. I’d add that this shouldn’t detract us from considering a “livable streets” approach. Anything that promotes the safety of all via effective policy is welcome.

  • murphstahoe

    You might be right Dave but it’s a red herring from my point of view, I consider 20+ deaths a year unacceptable.

  • Greg

    Thank you jd_x for saving the planet! You are so special and great.

  • jd_x

    It’s naive to pretend like this sort of disproportionate focus on pedestrians without a proportionate focus on the much bigger problem — careless drivers — is not part of the problem. It creates a distorted view in the public of what is actually happening and hence contributes to a misinformed public. This is also exactly what SFPD says; they play the same “blame the victim” card saying, “How can you argue that pedestrians shouldn’t pay attention?” And again, it’s not that there isn’t value in telling pedestrians to be careful, but that it must be massively tempered with telling motorists the same thing. When this doen’t happen, as this the case in our society currently, then you create a bias.

  • s4p

    I get where you’re coming from jd_x. But it seems to me you’re doing exactly what you’re saying you’re trying to avoid. I get it… My issue really revolves around the response people might have given the possible perceived tone your responses give. It seems clear to me that we agree on most levels (if not all). I believe I can summarize your perspective as. >> (Yes, pedestrians can be a part of the problem. However, let us not forget that drivers are typically the problem over 66% of the time and that should be of real concern to the public at large. ) We can agree on this I’m sure…

  • FL

    Greg is right. That is why 25 mph is just fine. It is the balance between drivers who want to get to their destination in a reasonable time and the decrease in possibility of a fatality if struck by a car.

    A 20 mph speed limit is an realistic speed limit that drivers will not obey except for the narrow residential streets.

  • murphstahoe

    A 20 mph speed limit is an realistic speed limit

    Sounds good to me.

  • John

    I drive, walk and bike San Fran. This is a great effort in creating awareness. It is a well-balanced look into who all need to take more and more responsibility.

    Pedestrians in San Francisco have a great sense of entitlement and often show middle finger and curse at drivers who honk at them for jay walking. Nowhere else can you find such rude pedestrians who are so out of their minds. Can you imagine slamming a passing car with the palm of your hand in Texas? It happens in San Fran all the time! Pedestrians are too aggressive and stubborn.

    Bicyclists are worse than ever breaking any and all rules at their own discretion.

    All drivers need to get GPS devices and stop using their cell phones for directions.

    SFPD needs to give a ton of tickets to pedestrians and bicyclists, not just drivers.

  • John

    Disagree completely. You are one of those pedestrians who does not want to address a true cause of concern.


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