Gascon issues holiday plea for safer streets

November 29, 2011 5:46:07 PM PST
San Francisco's district attorney is cracking down on people who break traffic laws this holiday season. The city has already seen four traffic fatalities in the past six months. District Attorney George Gascon says that's too many.

"Every year, over 800 people in this city get hit by cars on our streets," said Elizabeth Stampe of Walk San Francisco. "That's unacceptable."

So unacceptable that it's giving San Francisco a terrible rep.

"San Francisco has a higher rate of injuries of pedestrians and cyclists than other cities do and fatalities," said Gascon.

Gascon is asking everyone to slow down and follow traffic laws, especially during this holiday season -- and he means everybody.

"About 36 percent of the drivers that are involved in collisions with pedestrians involve people from other parts of the region," he said.

There will be more shoppers, traffic and shorter days. The holiday message? Slow down!

"If you're going 30 miles an hour, you're six times more likely to kill that person than if you're going just 20 miles an hour," said Stampe. "Just 10 miles an hour slower."

Jaywalkers and drivers aren't the only offenders. Bicyclists are the culprits, too.

"Just in the last four years, the number of people biking has increased by 58 percent," said Leah Shahum with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The district attorney is prosecuting Randolph Ang, a bicyclist who ran a red light and killed a pedestrian along the Embarcadero. He's been charged with misdemeanor manslaughter.

Meantime, the mayor's task force on pedestrian safety is almost ready with a plan to increase safety on the streets.

"The mayor's already set out the goal of reducing serious and fatal injuries by a quarter in five years and by half in 10 years," said Stampe.

Gascon says most accidents can be avoided, you just have to follow the rules of the road.

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