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San Francisco Needs to Prioritize Pedestrian Safety Infrastructure

Kudos to Manish Champsee, President of Walk San Francisco, for working with Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership to pull together some statistics behind the argument for improving pedestrian safety infrastructure in order to decrease the number of preventable pedestrian injuries and deaths in San Francisco and elsewhere.

Dangerous By Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (And Making Great Neighborhoods)” ranks the nation’s 52 largest metro areas based on a calculated Pedestrian Danger Index (PDI) and reveals how investment in pedestrian infrastructure could save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of crashes each year.

The San Francisco Examiner has a story about the new report in today’s paper.  Please see Walk San Francisco’s press release and take action by asking Secretary LaHood to make pedestrian safety a priority.

In the Rincon Hill neighborhood, one stark example of the lack of pedestrian safety considerations by the City and County of San Francisco is Harrison Street where the core of residential units stand in Rincon Hill at the moment.  Between Fremont Street and Main Street, the sidewalk on the north side forces people with baby strollers and all folks in wheelchairs to get off the sidewalk and into the street (as if that’s even possible for most people using a wheelchair) because the stairwell down to Beale Street in front of the Embarcadero Postal Center and a parking meter only leave about a foot of space to pass through via the sidewalk.  On the south side of Harrison, there is no sidewalk for a portion between Main and Fremont Streets, also forcing folks to walk in the street.  For neighbors living in Avalon Towers, One Rincon Hill, and future residents along Fremont who want to go to the closest public open space – Rincon Park on The Embarcadero – traversing Harrison Street is a natural choice, but it is a dangerous or impossible choice for some neighbors (baby strollers, wheelchairs).  Part of the problem on the north side is that the property is owned by the U.S. Postal Service … the property on the south side is owned by the State of California at the moment (Caltrans), and neither can be told by the City to fix things for Amercian Disability Act accessibility compliance (at least that’s my understanding).

I’ve said it to the SFMTA Board and I’ll say it again … San Francisco is negligent when it comes to pedestrian safety in South of Market.   The focus is moving cars through the area as quickly as possible, especially on those one-way streets with 4 lanes or more. I hope that this will change, but in the meanwhile, be careful about crossing the streets and please slow down and pay attention when driving.

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