Pedestrian Safety Stalled by SF Politics

By Matt Baume
|  Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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Pedestrian Safety Stalled by SF Politics

NBCChicago.com

People are dying as Nat Ford's SFMTA drags its feet on implementing pedestrian safety measures, according to city officials.

In the last week alone, three pedestrians were killed by motorists on city streets. Senior citizens are particularly at risk of being killed.

It doesn't have to be this way. Traffic planners know of some simple measures that can make streets safer: countdown timers at crosswalks, bulb-outs at the corners that ensure drivers are traveling at a safe rate of speed, and high-visibility crosswalks, according to Streetsblog.

By just reducing drivers' speed by five miles an hour, serious injuries could be reduced by 50 percent.

So why is it taking so long? According to observers and officials, it's because nobody's quite sure who's in charge, even though the SFMTA is supposed to be leading the effort. Although the agency has implemented some improvements over the years, other city departments have moved much faster.

That includes the Department of Public Health, which has created a Safe Routes to School program and the Safe and Active Walking Program. The Department of Public Works maintains the actual sidewalks and roads. The Planning Department draws up plans for street design. And the SFPD enforces traffic rules.

But even with all those people and resources, the city's stuck in a perpetual analysis cycle. Despite having tons of data on pedestrian safety needs, but the city still wants to collect more before it develops a coherent plan.

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