Are San Francisco’s Streets Dangerous by Design?

New Gov 2.0 tool shows where preventable pedestrian deaths are concentrated. How can we use this data to make our streets safer?  “When you get tired of walking around San Francisco, you can always lean against it.”

The quote is anonymous, but the sentiment is a familiar one for most San Franciscans. The resonance comes both from the hills, which often feel as if they’re leaning into you, and from the sense of community we have here. We pride ourselves on living in the world’s most beautiful, walkable city – and on having a citizenry that genuinely looks out for one another.

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Which is why the release this week from Transportation for America is such an eye opener. In a classic example of Government 2.0, TFA has created an interactive map that lays out where pedestrian fatalities have occurred. Enter ‘San Francisco,’ and a troubling graphic of individual, clickable tragedies appears. 

We’ve always known that too many people die each year in traffic related accidents in San Francisco – but now we know, and can see, exactly where and when. 

We’ve always known that too many people die each year in traffic related accidents in San Francisco – but now we know, and can see, exactly where and when.

Our challenge is to use this information to make our streets safer and prevent future tragedies. We can each do our part individually – by staying vigilant, looking both ways and not getting lost in the latest from @SFGiants (Buster Posey - ouch!) while crossing the street. But we should also find a way to use this data to identify dangerous corridors and make them safer. 

For example, the block of Sixth Street between Market and Mission, where six people have been struck and killed in seven years. Or on Geary between Fillmore and Gough, where four elderly people were hit and killed in just three years.

TFA’s map gives us new information about the safety of our streets – and with knowledge, of course, comes responsibility. 

Log in and join the conversation. How do you think we should use this information to make our city safer?

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Looking through the data

Looking through the data reveals (to me) that SF and our accompanying metro area is actually one of the safest for pedestrian fatalities. Considering that we can walk to work 100% of the year (compared to the northern climates) and that we have to include Oakland/Fremont in our statistical averages, it makes us look pretty good!

MartinZehr's picture

Freeways needed through city

San Francisco has dangerous streets when pedestrians walk across its streets oblivious to traffic. A driver has a difficult time assessing pedestrian intentions and often miss pedestrians out of the line of vision. The idea of pedestrian right-of-way is all well and good except it has not worked. Many San Francisco streets downtown have pedestrians crossing against the light or on yellow. In a situation between a car and a pedestrian, the pedestrian is inevitably the loser, with disasterous consequences. Pedestrians routinely cross the street without looking both ways with an assumption that they are so entitled. This becomes dangerous when you have a reaction time for drivers that cannot stop the vehicle in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian. There is no principle here but pedestrian safety and how to improve it. The streets do not belong to the people. Like it or not, pedestrian safety really rests on their ability to be alert as to what is happening on the street that they are crossing. Admittedly, there are particulars of certain streets at certain times of the day where pedestrian traffic is increased or auto traffic is increased. One can see that from the map above where pedestrian fatalities are higher downtown. Since the Embarcadero freeway was demolished, auto traffic is being channeled through streets filled with pedestrians thereby increasing the risks. Planning can reduce these accidents only if it provides arteries through the city outside of downtown streets. No one is trying to hit pedestrians but the record indicates that the city is not responding to what is obvious to drivers and pedestrians alike. Reset San Francisco , make it safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.

kelly4nia's picture

6th - btwn Market and Mission

This stat caught me because if you know that stretch of 6th, you know it's one of the grimiest, sloppiest, crack-addict-ridden, drunk blocks in the entire city, Bayview included. It's a leak from the Tenderloin, created by one-way traffic and diagonal crossstreets. It's one of those streets you set personal rules for: dont' talk on your cellphone while walking down, don't walk down alone at night, especially if you're a woman, don't look at the two wild-haired crazy-eyed addicts directly while the beat at each other as you try to walk past or you're going to become part of the chaos. Sorry I ramble.
My point is that the statistic for that piece of road might need to be looked at in context as it's the only place where you see several extremely inebriated folks stumble down across and into this street in one sitting. Not to discount the absurdity of the traffic that comes down GG and I think Taylor to merge into that one vile roadway. I was once almost struck on my bike by a civic that tried to pass a semi trick ON THE RIGHT SIDE!!!
I just thought that it was worth noting. Thanks.

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