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This post, by our partners at Walk San Francisco, has been made possible by the grant-funded Focus Cities California program, a joint project of UC Berkeley SafeTREC and California Walks, which supports increased safety in walking and biking.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Armed with speed detectors and surveys, Visitacion Valley seniors from the Asian Pacific American Community Center took to their local street to audit the safety of the intersection of Bayshore Boulevard and Arleta Avenue. Staff from Assemblymember David Chiu’s office, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) representatives, and local Vision Zero advocates, joined the seniors to document the daily dangers of walking on their local city streets.

The Asian Pacific American Community Center is located near the high-injury intersection of Bayshore Boulevard and Arleta Avenue in Southeastern San Francisco. Most of the seniors who rely on the Asian Pacific American Community Center’s programming get to and from the center using bus lines and light rail service that stop by the busy intersection. The street audit was a perfect opportunity to invite city officials and local politicians to learn more about the seniors’ experiences using this dangerous intersection.

Walk San Francisco began the event with a training to introduce the seniors to Vision Zero and provide them with skills to advocate for safer streets in their neighborhood. In the battle against traffic violence, knowledge is power. The training not only educated seniors about the issues at hand. but also the design solutions available to make walking safe. Walk SF’s Safe Streets for Seniors presentation highlighted street engineering treatments for safer streets, so the seniors could ask for these improvements from city officials and politicians.

Following the presentation, Walk SF led the seniors on a walk audit to study the safety conditions at the dangerous, five-way intersection of Bayshore Boulevard and Arleta Avenue. During the audit, seniors split into smaller groups that were paired with city transportation officials and politicians in order to share their experiences and concerns about walking at the audit site.

The seniors raised street safety issues around the lack of crossing times, restricted access from cars parking on the sidewalk, and general navigation issues with narrow and poorly-maintained sidewalks. The walk audit also allowed seniors to share concerns about motorists speeding and blocking the crosswalk, after sighting multiple examples during the walk. Armed with the skills from the presentation, the seniors were able to make a request for larger bulb-outs and road diets to help reduce speeding traffic and make the street safer for pedestrians.

In San Francisco, speeding is the top factor in severe and fatal collisions, causing 10 times more injuries than drunk driving. Every mile per hour can be the difference between life and death. If someone is hit by a car going 20 mph, they have a 10% chance of being killed. At 40 mph, that chance increases to 80% for an average adult. For seniors, the risk is at least 90%.

During the walk audit, the seniors also used radar guns to measure the speed of traffic on Bayshore Boulevard. During the assessment, the seniors clocked cars speeding up to 42 mph on Bayshore – seven miles over the 35 mph speed limit.

After the walk audit, the seniors returned to the Asian Pacific American Community Center to review and discuss what they had noted in their small groups. SFMTA staff and Assemblymember Chiu’s staff took notes assured them that their concerns would be shared with the engineers and planners already working on longer term projects that included a redesign of the intersection. Since the training, SFMTA staff has expressed interest in returning to the Community Center to share next steps with the seniors.

The day’s training event highlighted the inequities in traffic violence facing seniors. Although seniors make up only 14 percent of San Francisco’s population, they make up at least 50 percent of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes each year. The City’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic deaths and severe-injury crashes by 2024 is a critical effort to create safer streets to address the higher risks of traffic violence for seniors.

Cross-posted at Walk San Francisco’s site.

This post, by our partners at Walk San Francisco, has been made possible by the grant-funded Focus Cities California program, a joint project of UC Berkeley SafeTREC and California Walks, which supports increased safety in walking and biking.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

So far this year, three people over the age of 70 have already been victims of San Francisco’s unsafe streets. 76-year old Jeannie Yee lost her life in Cow Hollow, 93-year-old Ka Ben Wong was killed in Russian Hill, and 77-year-old Meda Hacopian died near Lake Merced when she was struck by a car.

When seniors make up only 15 percent of San Francisco’s population, yet account for over 40 percent of all traffic deaths, it is time for the City to make its streets safe and accessible for ALL seniors and people with disabilities.

Since seniors are five times more at risk of dying from their injuries as those under 65, it comes as no surprise that the majority of those who are severely hurt or lose their lives are seniors and members of the disability community.

Beginning in 2014 when the City adopted Vision Zero – the goal to end all serious and fatal traffic-related crashes by 2024 – community members have begun to speak up and consistently demand progress towards this life-saving objective. Nonprofit organizations like Senior and Disability ActionChinatown Community Development Center, and Mercy Housing have partnered with Walk San Francisco and the Vision Zero Coalition to challenge legislators and policymakers to experience what it’s like to try to get around local streets every day as a senior or a person with one or more disabilities. At rallies, public hearings, and through organized formal appeals, safe street advocates have repeatedly urged elected leaders and decision makers to engineer streets that prioritize people walking and the safety concerns of the city’s older population.

After 68-year old Priscilla “Precy” Moreto was hit and killed by a tour bus in a crosswalk in front of City Hall, advocates pushed for and won legislation to prohibit tour bus drivers from simultaneously acting as tour guides.

In 2015, after Ai You Zhou, 77, was killed while crossing the intersection of Kearny and Clay streets, Chinatown advocates pushed for and won a “pedestrian scramble,” an engineering solution that stops traffic in all directions while allowing pedestrians to cross in all directions, including diagonally. This simple solution removes all vehicle-pedestrian conflict.

Less than a year later in 2016, Thu Phan, a 38-year-old Department of Labor employee, was killed while she was crossing Market Street in her wheelchair. Following an emotional rally at the site of her death, the Vision Zero Coalition formed a Senior & Disability Workgroup to focus specifically on policies to shape engineering, education, and enforcement efforts to increase the safety of seniors and people with disabilities.

This Workgroup has won key changes including:

  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs), walk signals that provide people crossing with a head start, at six intersections along Market Street, including 7th
  • More visible turn restriction signage at Market & 7th Street where Thu was killed
  • A City Administrator’s policy memo that explicitly states that City drivers are NOT exempt from turn restrictions (a key factor in Thu’s death)
  • A new required driver training and education program for ALL City staff that specifically highlights how to drive safely around seniors and people with disabilities

How to Build Safe Streets for Seniors and People with Disabilities
While the senior and disability advocates have won great progress, much work remains to be done. The Workgroup is now actively urging the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to respond to the primary safety challenge faced by seniors in San Francisco — the lack of adequate crossing times at dangerous intersections.

In addition, the group is supporting solutions to address the leading cause of serious and fatal injuries in traffic crashes: speeding, which is responsible for 10 times the number of injuries as drunk driving. Moreover, a senior that is hit by a car driving 40 MPH has only an 8 percent survival rate, compared to 20 percent for the average adult, making speed exponentially more dangerous for seniors and people with disabilities.

Solutions to protect seniors and people with disabilities who are at higher risk from unsafe speeding include concrete bulb-outs and medians, which shorten crosswalk lengths and reduce the time that seniors spend in the street, increase visibility between drivers and pedestrians, and slow down turning vehicles; leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs), which activate the walk signal for pedestrians before vehicles are given the green light signal; and raised crosswalks and intersections, which slow traffic moving through intersections, where most crashes occur.

Cross-posted at Walk San Francisco’s site.

This post, by our partners at Walk San Francisco, has been made possible by the grant-funded Focus Cities California program, a joint project of UC Berkeley SafeTREC and California Walks, which supports increased safety in walking and biking.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Folsom and Howard are currently two of the streets on the city’s high-injury network (the 12% of San Francisco’s streets that account for over 70% of all crashes). If you don’t already know what a high-injury corridor is, learn more here.

Earlier this year, a 58 year-old man was hit and seriously injured on Folsom, adding another victim to at least 308 other people who have been hit and hurt on these streets since 2011. Moreover, three people have lost their lives on these dangerous, fast, one-way streets, including 44 year-old Melissa Kitson who was walking on Howard, 26 year-old Katherine Slattery who was bicycling, and 24 year-old Amelie Le Moullac, who was killed on Folsom while riding her bicycle.

On Folsom and Howard, 89% of pedestrian and bike collisions with motorists were at intersections and 59% of collisions were caused by unsafe motorist behavior such as running red lights, speeding, and encroaching on pedestrian right-of-way.

Data tell us both where AND why crashes happen on Folsom and Howard.

Armed with this analysis, crashes are no longer ‘accidents’ — they are predictable and preventable!

As part of the broader Vision Zero effort to end all traffic deaths by 2024, Walk SF is leading a campaign to transform Folsom and Howard (from 2nd to 11th) into safe, walkable, bike and transit-friendly streets  — and YOU can be part of it!

If it gets community support from members like you before it goes to final design in 2018, the Folsom-Howard Streetscape Project could be a great win for SoMa. Your voice can make these streets safe and greener for everyone, who lives, works, or travels on these streets, including the students at Bessie Carmichael Elementary and Middle schools.

If you don’t already know about the project, download the Folsom Howard Streetscape Project fact sheet, or refer to the project boards from April’s Open Houses.

How to Build Neighborhood-Friendly Streets
To redesign this pair of fast, one-way freeway feeders tell the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to include ALL of the following improvements:

  • Reduce four lanes of traffic to two (instead of three) and narrow traffic lanes from 11 ft to 10 ft to reduce speeding
  • Make intersections safe for people walking with head start signals, pedestrian scrambles (where people can cross in all directions at once), corner bulb-outs or “daylighting” at corners with painted safety zones, and highly-visible painted crosswalks
  • Widen sidewalks and add street amenities like benches, people-scaled lighting, and trees and gardens to make walking more pleasant, and add decorative paving, public art and plazas to create a sense of neighborhood and promote community
  • Build raised crosswalks/intersections to promote yielding by slowing traffic and signalized mid-block crossings to make it easy to travel by foot
  • Add strong safety treatments around Bessie Carmichael School at 7th and Howard, near family housing at 6th and Howard and 7th and Howard, by The Arc Community Center at 11th and Howard, close to the SoMa Family Resource Center at Mabini and Folsom, as well as between the Moscone Center and the Yerba Bunea Center for the Arts, which should have a pedestrian scramble
  • Prioritize transit and bicycling access to reduce traffic congestion with Transit-only lanes and boarding islands, and incorporate parking-protected bicycle lanes to significantly improve safety
For the latest Folsom-Howard Streetscape project news and events, sign up today.
Questions or comments? Contact Neighborhood Organizer Josie Ahrens.

Cross-posted at Walk San Francisco’s site.

Assemblymember David Chiu Announces Automated Speed Enforcement Legislation Alongside San Francisco and San Jose Colleagues and Advocates

California Assemblymember David Chiu joined San Francisco Mayor Lee, San Jose Mayor Liccardo, and state and local advocates yesterday to introduce important state legislation needed to achieve Vision Zero. Assembly Bill (AB) 342—also known as the Safe Streets Act of 2017—amends the California Vehicle Code (CVC) to authorize the use of Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) systems to enforce excessive speeding violations over the posted limit in the City and County of San Francisco and the City of San Jose for a five-year pilot period.

California Walks, Walk San Francisco, and the San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets support this legislation and stand with the family members, loved ones, and friends of those who have suffered from preventable traffic crashes. Unsafe speed is the single highest factor of fatal and severe injury collisions in both cities, and it is a fundamental predictor of crash severity. In particular, seniors, youth, and people walking and bicycling, bear disproportionately greater risks of injury or death in speed-related crashes.

“Too many people are losing their lives or living with life-altering injuries from traffic collisions,” said Tony Dang, Executive Director of California Walks. “This safety legislation would enable cities to adopt a proven technology that will make our streets safe for everyone.”

“Automated Speed Enforcement can play a key role in helping make our cities safer, particularly for our pedestrians and bicyclists, seniors and children,” said Mayor Sam Liccardo. “We need to explore all opportunities to protect the most vulnerable users of our streets, and I’d like to thank Assemblymember Chiu, Mayor Lee and our many other partners for their support of piloting this proven technology in our two cities.”

California Walks and its partners, locally and across the state, are committed to working toward zero traffic deaths and serious injuries through safety initiatives which build better and safer streets, enforce the most dangerous traffic violations, educate the public on traffic safety, and adopt policy changes in order to eliminate traffic deaths and reduce severe injury collisions. Assemblymember Chiu’s introduction of AB 342 is a bold declaration in support of safe streets in California.


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