Traffic safety is no easy fix

Examiner readers – comments
Make traffic deaths a thing of the past,”
In My View, April 18

Traffic safety is no easy fix

SFMTA Director Ed Reiskin proclaims that “each [San Francisco traffic fatality] is preventable” as though this is somehow self-evident simply because he proclaims it. It is no such thing.

As SFPD Cmdr. Mikail Ali discovered in his detailed analysis of 2013 and 2014 street fatalities, the majority of fatalities are due to “really, really bad behavior” on the part of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians. Anyone who cycles and walks in San Francisco every day, as I do, will be as confounded as I am at the notion that red-light-running, inattentive jaywalking and failures to yield at crosswalks can be prevented by “Vision Zero,” which is a slogan pretending to be a panacea.

Reiskin cites “data analysis” as the basis for ever more expensive and intrusive mismanagement of our traffic flow. Yet despite having more than 5,000 employees at his service, the SFMTA has been slow to publish its annual collisions reports so we, citizens, can review the data ourselves.

The latest canard is “speeding,” something we all know is nearly impossible to do on tight, congested inner-city streets. Yet, it will be cited as justification for massive new camera surveillance. I’m sure the vendors of the speeding cameras are pleased by Reiskin’s endorsement of their solution to a nonexistent problem, as well as Uber and Lyft, who smile upon his efforts to divert our attention away from the true current scourge: distracted ride-hail drivers.

Deane Hartley
San Francisco

Ed Reiskin has admitted that Vision Zero has failed to put a dent in traffic deaths. So, his solution is MORE OF SAME.

According to a February 7 report titled “SFMTA Board Workshop”, in 2016 there were 3 bicycle fatalities, 16 pedestrian fatalities and 11 people were killed in vehicles. Bus and rail collisions and traffic congestion was up.


U.S. DOT Adopts Vision Zero

by Elana Eden : planetizen – excerpt

“With this campaign, we’re making clear that zero is the only acceptable number of deaths on our roads.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced October 5 that it has committed $1 million a year for the next three years to a national Vision Zero program.

The campaign relies on a large coalition of safety advocates, data and behavioral scientists, community planners, policy analysts, and officials at all levels government.

Though a target date to reach zero traffic deaths nationwide is not specified, the plan identifies short-term actions in the service of long-term goals… (more)

Open letter to Supervisor Weiner

Dear Scott,

Please do not close Noe and Sanchez Streets to left turns onto Market.

There are so few ways to access Market Street; since I’ve lived here we’ve closed off McCoppin, Octavia, Buchanan, Dolores, Church, and Castro Streets to turns onto Market.
As a result, 15th St., 16th St., Sanchez and Noe are often congested 2-3 blocks to get onto Market.
Drivers flood the Duboce Triangle and the Castro trying to go around.

What problem are we trying to solve?

Pedestrian jay-walking is epidemic in the Castro as are bicycle red-light runners.  The recent brown paint  encourages pedestrian to wait in the middle of the street.  See attached photos.

But SFPD does not dare enforce, due to severe backlash from SFBC, and lack of support from both the command staff and city government (according to multiple friends who are officers, and wish to remain anonymous).  Currently peds and bikes get a pass.  But Vision Zero will only work if everyone is accountable.

• We support a left turn arrow from westbound 16th St. to westbound Market St., often backed up 2 blocks / 6 light cycles / 10 minutes.
• We also support the idea of an all-way pedestrian crossing light at Noe/16th/Market, just as we currently have in the Financial District.
• We oppose turn restrictions from Noe and Sanchez Streets.


—Jamey Frank,

Church Street Neighborhood Association


Deaths in S.F. traffic not falling despite Vision Zero efforts

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfchronicle – excerpt

The Vision Zero policy was adopted in 2014 with a goal of eliminating all deaths from traffic collisions in a decade. To that end, a collection of city departments has focused on the most dangerous streets and intersections.

The MTA has made at least 30 major renovations and scores of simpler safety improvements based on data compiled by the Department of Public Health identifying the city’s deadliest streets and intersections and most common causes of crashes. At the same time, police have stepped up enforcement efforts at deadly locations. Education campaigns focused on getting drivers to yield to pedestrians were also launched.

“The goal of Vision Zero is that nobody should be dying on our streets just trying to get around town,” said Ed Reiskin, transportation director for the MTA. “While lots of good things have been put in place, it is troubling and tragic that people are dying.”…

Nancy Sarieh, a Department of Public Health spokeswoman, said the early spate of deaths, as well as serious injuries, is tragic but it’s too soon to tell statistically if Vision Zero is losing ground…

This year’s fatal crashes have occurred at or near the intersections of Leavenworth and Ellis streets, Broadway and Powell streets, Athens and Geneva streets, Market and Seventh streets, Dolores and 30th streets and Post and Divisadero streets. Of those, only Seventh and Market has seen any Vision Zero improvements

Merchants’ alternative

The merchants have suggested that instead of installing boarding islands, the MTA should paint bold diagonal stripes in the street at Muni stops and post signs telling drivers to stop outside the zone when streetcars are present. The plan would allow curbside parking to remain(more)

We see a fight brewing between the merchants and the SF Bicycle Coalition. Who will City Hall choose to support? How long will the citizens of SF put up with the Vision Zero plan to remove parking and slow traffic and displace merchants once they hear that the number of fatal accidents has remained constant. The Vision Zero improvements at Market and 7th failed.

SFMTA vs. Lyft and Uber Drivers: Forget About Turning Left or Right onto Market Betwixt 3rd and 8th – Orwellian SMS

sfcitizen – excerpt

Let’s see if I can pay off on the headline here.

This is the Safer Market Street proposal, which used to be called, I believe, Better Market Street. I suppose the name got changed to support Vision Zero 2024? (That’s the promise of absolute transportation safety that will fail only after the terming our of our Interim Mayor and all the Members of the Board of Supervisors. Not a single promoter of Vision Zero actually believes we’ll get to zero transportation death, / injuries within nine years or ever at all…)

And here’s what I’m talking about not being able to make turns – all those red arrows show what you won’t be able to do anymore:

Captureggg copy

Will TNC drivers be banned? Yes – at least that’s the plan last I heard. Will taxi drivers be similarly banned? No, the SFMTA wants to promote taxis and the SFMTA hates, just hates, TNCs.

Note that when the SFMTA calls this proposal a proposal, that means it’s a done deal…(more)

Continue reading

Safety Course Not Required For Uber, Lyft, Others

hoodline – excerpt

In the wake of an Uber driver arrested after allegedly hitting and injuring a cyclist in Fisherman’s Wharf on Sunday, more questions are being raised about driver safety requirements.

Specifically, taxis are regulated by SFMTA and are required to take 28 hours of classes through one of four approved private driving schools, and another day of training through the SFMTA. An hour of the SFMTA training includes instruction on sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians, is taught by a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. At least two hours of testing is required. And as part of the city’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to eliminate traffic deaths by 2024, SFMTA is instituting a large vehicle urban driving safety program for all large vehicle drivers who work for the city.

All told, as Central City Extra covered in their latest issue (PDF), there are 71 pages of dense regulations for cab drivers to follow.

Not so for drivers working for Uber, Lyft, Sidecar or limo companies, which are not regulated by the SFMTA – they only have 28 simple regulations to follow.

And the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, among others, is concerned about this gap in safety mandates. “We need to ensure everyone knows how to share the road safely,” said Tyler Frisbee, policy director at the organization. Many of the drivers, she said, aren’t used to driving in a city as busy as San Francisco.

“Whether cab, Uber, Lyft—they’re pulling over to the side frequently, they’re loading and unloading, they’re driving through crowded areas” such as Market Street, SoMa and the FiDi, Frisbee said. “The reason SFMTA hires us is they want to protect peoples’ lives,” she added. “There’s no similar training for Uber. Their drivers take a couple of very short safety classes that are taught online.”… (More)

Walking tour highlights efforts to cut traffic fatalities in S.F.

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

The walking tour that departed from the steps of City Hall on Tuesday morning traveled a route not frequented by double-deck tour buses, and it took in destinations not typically sought out by sightseers.

The group of two dozen or so, most wearing suits or dresses, strolled north to Golden Gate Avenue and then through the Tenderloin, passing the crowd gathering for lunch outside St. Anthony Dining Room, then stopping at Sixth and Market streets before heading up McAllister Street to a restaurant near Civic Center.

The visitors, from Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, were part of a state and federal delegation to learn what San Francisco is doing to make its streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the Vision Zero program.

San Francisco began its version of Vision Zero, an international traffic safety program founded in Sweden, early last year after a surge in fatal pedestrian collisions in the city in late 2013 and early 2014. The program aims to eliminate traffic fatalities in the city by 2024 using a combination of physical changes to streets, education programs and traffic enforcement…

Sixth Street changes

Standing at the corner of Sixth and Market, MTA Vision Zero project liaison and Tuesday’s tour guide Neal Patel described it as one of the city’s most dangerous intersections. He said the city wants to narrow four-lane Sixth Street to a single lane in each direction in 2017 when environmental studies are completed, even though it feeds traffic to the Bay Bridge.

“Will there be traffic impacts?” he asked. “Yes, there will.”… (more)

Question from a reader: “. . . What’s going on around here?  How is this going to make 6th Street safer?”

Answer: Ask the Fire Department and other emergency supporters how they feel about the bulbouts and street diets if you can get anyone to talk to you about it. There is a strange silence coming out of the City Departments as they battle over turf and funds. No one is talking.

Vision Zero advocates push forward as pedestrian deaths decline in 2014

By sfexaminer – excerpt

Pedestrian fatalities in San Francisco in 2014 were down slightly from the previous year, but still higher than the past several years, a figure that traffic-safety officials and advocates hope to drive down with Vision Zero projects planned throughout 2015.

According to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, 18 pedestrian fatalities and three bicyclist deaths involving motor vehicles occurred in 2014. In 2013, there were 21 pedestrian fatalities — with seven in December and three on New Year’s Eve alone, including the death of 6-year-old Sofia Liu who was hit by an Uber driver — and four bicyclist fatalities…

Prop. A allows The City to borrow up to $500 million by issuing general-obligation bonds for improving its transit infrastructure and aging roads, while Prop. B amended the city charter to allocate a greater amount of the general fund toward the transit agency each year based on population growth.

The Vision Zero coalition’s goal for this year, Schneider said, is to complete 18 miles of street-safety improvement projects on high-injury corridors, which account for 6 percent of The City’s streets and 60 percent of severe and fatal injuries on average… (more)

Safer Market Street Community Meeting #1, September 30, 2014

sfmta – excerpt

As part of the Vision Zero project, SFMTA is implementing turn restrictions onto Market Street which will decrease the number of private vehicles driving along this corridor. The focus area, a five-block expanse between 3rd Street and 8th Street/Hyde Street, is where an overwhelming number of traffic-related accidents occur. This community meeting will explain why these changes are being made. A map with the proposed restrictions can be found in the Safer Market Street Community Meeting Notice. SFMTA is still considering locations of new loading zones around the area, and meeting attendees are welcomed to provide their feedback on where best to place them.

The SFMTA will be developing new wayfinding signs to assist visitors and drivers while navigating the Market Street area.  Attendees will have the opportunity to view  the various designs being considered and assist in decision process.

Safer Market Factsheet (more)

Longtime SF Bicycle Coalition chief to step down

By sfexminer – excerpt

One of the strongest San Francisco voices in advocating on behalf of bicyclists is stepping down from her role as head of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and heading to Europe.

Leah Shahum, often seen riding around town on her orange two-wheeler, announced in a letter to the nonprofit’s members Tuesday that after 17 years with the group, 12 of which as its executive director, she is calling it quits by the year’s end.

“It’s time for me to pedal toward new adventures, including participating in a German Marshall Fund Fellowship to research the successes of Vision Zero in Europe,” Shahum said in the letter… (more)

Good news for some of us. One less anti-car voice to counter.

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