S.F. traffic fatalities dip, but not bad behavior

By Heather Knight : sfgate – excerpt

Last January, this column proposed a rather modest, practical citywide New Year’s resolution: “However you traverse the city’s streets — be it in a car, on a bicycle or using your own two feet — calm down. Look around. Pay attention. Be considerate.”

After all, 21 pedestrians and four bicyclists were killed on the city’s streets in 2013, the highest total since 2001.

So how’d we do? Like probably most resolution makers, the city did a little bit better — but not a whole lot.

In 2014, 17 pedestrians and three bicyclists died, according to the San Francisco Police Department. Nine people on motorcycles or in cars also died.

Last year, we griped about the inconsiderate behavior of all users of our streets where speeding, honking, blowing through red lights and stop signs, swearing, showing off a certain finger, using a cell phone and just being completely oblivious seem increasingly to be the norm.

Police Commander Mikail Ali keeps records of all the traffic collisions and deaths and said the majority of them share something in common.

“A lot of it is just really, really bad behavior,” he said…

He shared a Police Department list of the circumstances behind each traffic death in San Francisco in 2014, and it’s true. The behavior — by drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians alike — is often downright shocking.

The list also makes clear that while many city drivers are awful, the collisions are not only their fault. The Police Department found that in the 17 pedestrian deaths, drivers were responsible for eight and pedestrians were responsible for nine. Bicyclists were responsible in all three instances when they died…

“This is not Star Trek, where some invisible force field is going to be created around people by the likes of city government,” he said. “The public has to do its part, and that means adhering to the rules of the road.”

He said he’s told constantly by people that they cross streets against the light or commit otherwise seemingly minor infractions.

“It’s kind of like playing Russian roulette,” he said. “Eventually something bad does happen.”… (more)

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