New legislation aims to protect pedestrians in SF

June 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Disturbing new statistics released Monday show that about three pedestrians are hit by cars in San Francisco every day.

A major pedestrian improvement project is under way on Jefferson Street involving wide pedestrian boulevards and improved intersections. And, one city leader believes that with better communication between city agencies, more projects could make it off the drawing board.

San Francisco is always at the top of the list when it comes to the nation's most walkable cities, but it can also be dangerous for pedestrians. "The police just announced that 964 people were hit and either injured or killed by cars in San Francisco in 2012. That's way too many," says Walk SF Executive Director Elizabeth Stampe

Walk SF promotes safety improvements like the widened sidewalks on Valencia Street, the tree and traffic light stand where the sidewalk used to end before the upgrades.

With pedestrian accidents all too common, Mayor Ed Lee recently announced a strategy to zero in on the meanest streets, but Supervisor Scott Wiener calls the current process for implementing improvements dysfunctional.

"We have something like five, six different city departments that have to sign off on pedestrian improvements and they don't always coordinate with each other. So, this legislation will first and foremost force coordination," Wiener said.

Wiener's measures, which include modifying city codes, were scrutinized at a hearing Monday. If approved, big projects like the one to widen the sidewalks along pedestrian-heavy Fisherman's Wharf might not get tangled in so much red tape and smaller ones like the community effort to narrow a street in the Mission could be streamlined.

"Cars speed down this street. They go the wrong way and the way the parking is angled, it creates a pedestrian danger," said Jeremy Shaw at the Mission Community Market.

Keith Patterson thinks the city definitely needs to do more. "Two years ago, I got hit by a car over here crossing the crosswalk. People just didn't care," he said.

Wiener's legislation could go before the full board for a vote next week.


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