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SF pledges to eliminate traffic deaths; car collisions surge immediately

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Eight major crashes leave two dead as city re-ups promise to do away with auto deaths by 2024

An orange sign on a street corner indicating where pedestrians should cross near a construction zone, as a car passes. Photo by ZikG

Last Thursday, San Francisco released its updated plan to eliminate traffic deaths in the city within five years.

One day later, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) reported that major car collisions in Forest Hill, Pacific Heights, the Tenderloin, and Excelsior killed two people and left at least two others seriously injured.

A driver in West Portal injured a 96-year-old pedestrian Monday, marking eight serious vehicular crashes in just one week, at least by SF Weekly’s count, even as the city renews its goal of zero annual traffic fatalities by 2024.

On Saturday, SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin said in response to the rash of collisions that the city “has made significant progress in reshaping our streets and reshaping how the public thinks about traffic safety” while also conceding that “fatal crashes continue to occur.”

Reskin referred to Friday’s driver-related fatalities as “a tragic day.”

According to the city’s official count, SF suffered 23 traffic deaths in 2018, 15 of them pedestrians and three of them cyclists.

That number was up from 22 the previous year, but down from every previous year since 2010.

SF implemented its Vision Zero Plan in 2014, a year that saw 31 deaths on city streets. That number stayed flat in 2015 and then jumped to 32 in 2016 before finally declining the following year.

Note that these counts do not include the results of collisions on state-controlled corridors that pass through the city.

In the new Vision Zero plan released February 28 (the city produces a new strategy document for the program every two years), Mayor London Breed noted that “just 13 percent of San Francisco’s streets account for 75 percent of the city’s severe traffic injuries and fatalities.”

SF’s deadliest streets.
Some of SF’s deadliest streets.
Image via SFMTA

The new Vision Zero plan calls for additional fixes such as more automated red lights and speeding cameras—”although some red light cameras [...] exist in San Francisco, state legislation is required to authorize automatic speed enforcement”—at key corridors.

The Vision Zero Task Force also suggests tolls for certain busy roads “to manage demand for driving on the most congested streets,” and new speed limits standards based on “safety and mobility goals.”

The report notes that Boston reduced collisions 29 percent by decreasing speed limits five miles on certain streets.

Possibly most provocative, the plan suggests subjecting drivers for ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber to city driver training and fleet inspection.

For the full policy plan, including a complete map of the 13 percent of SF roadways where most collisions happen, go here.