Fire Department hindering street safety

by : sfexaminer – excerpt

San Francisco has a long way to go to become safe for people on foot. Half of all people who die in traffic crashes are people who walk — that’s about four times the national average.
What can The City do about the massacres happening on our streets, which now outweigh the number of violent crimes at a rate of 2.5 to 1? It can choose to invest in proven tools to reduce traffic crimes, like curb extensions (or bulb-outs), which increase the visibility of people in a crosswalk (tackling one of the top reasons pedestrians are hit by drivers). It can also support medians, which provide a safe place to wait, reducing the risk of a crash by nearly 50 percent. These upgrades help seniors and people with disabilities cross the street by shortening both travel distances and exposure times to traffic…

So why is the Fire Department blocking these street improvements? After all, the majority of emergencies the Fire Department responds to aren’t fires — 75 percent of their responses are for medical emergencies, often related to traffic crashes. At 2010 budget levels, San Franciscans are paying more than $200 million in taxes for the Fire Department to respond to preventable collisions….

There are state laws describing street designs for a reason. The dimensions were designed to handle the wider fire engines and trucks moving at a fast pace and making wide turns when necessary. Until you shrink the vehicles, you have to accommodate them. This is science, not a virtual reality game.

As for the argument that the bulbouts and islands are protecting pedestrians, how do you explain the recent rash of accidents? The SFMTA has been hard at work reducing lanes and lane widths for the last two years. If that was going to result in fewer accidents the number of casualties should have declined, not gone up.

The easiest way to help pedestrians and drivers avoid colliding with each other is to lengthen the duration of yellow lights and add countdown lights at the most dangerous intersections. All modes follow the same traffic signals. The short yellow lights are stressful for everyone. When the light turns yellow, people start to rush if they don’t know how much time they have. Adding countdowns will relieve some of the anxiety.

Another easy and cheap thing that can be done is to paint the stop signs on the street, and indicate where they are 2 or 4 way stops.

There are state laws describing street designs for a reason. The dimensions were designed to handle the wider fire engines and trucks moving at a fast pace and making wide turns when necessary. Until you shrink the vehicles, you have to accommodate them. This is science, not a virtual reality game. We support the Fire Department in upholding their standards.

If you think the bulbouts and islands are protecting pedestrians, how do you explain the recent rash of accidents? The SFMTA has been hard at work reducing lanes and lane widths for the last two years. If that was going to result in fewer accidents the number of casualties should have declined, not gone up.

The easiest way to help pedestrians and drivers avoid colliding with each other is to lengthen the duration of yellow lights and add countdown lights at the most dangerous intersections. All modes follow the same traffic signals. The short yellow lights are stressful for everyone. When the light turns yellow, people start to rush if they don’t know how much time they have. Adding countdowns will relieve some of the anxiety.

Another easy and cheap thing that can be done is to paint the stop signs on the street, and indicate where they are 2 or 4 way stops.

We posted a few photos of a fire truck turning into a parking lot at SF General. The truck had to slow down and wait for traffic to make the turn into the lot, and would not have been able to make it if the new Potrero plan with a median and trees where in place. https://metermadness.wordpress.com/sfpark-compaints/fire-trucks/

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