Thursday News Roundup
City Officials, Pedestrian Advocates Call For Safer STREETS ON WALK TO WORK DAY
San Francisco city officials and pedestrian advocates said during today’s celebrations of Walk to Work Day that additional safety precautions are still needed to end pedestrian fatalities in the city.
Nicole Ferrara, executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Walk San Francisco, said in order to encourage people to walk more, the city needs to make it safer and more enticing.
This year’s Walk to Work Day coincides with the Market Street Prototyping Festival, in which over 50 art installations are in place by various community groups re-envisioning the Market Street corridor.
Market Street is transformed with ping pong tables, lawns and unconventional art pieces today through Saturday.
Supervisor Jane Kim, who represents the city’s District 6, including the South of Market and Tenderloin neighborhoods, walked along Market Street this morning with fellow supervisors, District Attorney George Gascon, police Chief Greg Suhr and numerous other city officials admiring improved pedestrian safety features and the new temporary art installations.
Kim said her district sees the highest rate of pedestrian-vehicle collisions in the city, despite the fact that the vast majority of Tenderloin residents don’t own cars.
She said she is excited about daylighting projects in her district.
Daylighting is a pedestrian safety measure that makes pedestrians more visible at intersections by removing barriers, such as parked cars, from within at least 10 feet of a crosswalk or intersection, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The simple safety measure allows pedestrians, especially children, to remain on the crosswalk until it’s safe to cross, instead of having to walk out past the parked vehicle and into the street to see if vehicles are about to enter the intersection. Motorists are also able to see if someone is waiting to cross.
According to the SFMTA, since almost all the streets in the Tenderloin are considered high-injury streets, already 80 intersections in the neighborhood have been improved with daylighting.
Ed Reiskin, the SFMTA’s director of transportation, said today that in a city with more than a million trips made on foot everyday, it is important that pedestrians are made more visible and that vehicles slow down.
According to Walk SF, 18 pedestrians died in traffic-related incidents last year, in addition to 10 non-pedestrian traffic-related deaths that same year.
Supervisor Norman Yee said today it’s important that the city remembers that “walking safely is not a privilege, it is a right.”
Pedestrian advocates continue to urge the city to create bulb-outs, pedestrian medians, wider sidewalks, and other infrastructure improvements to further protect people walking through crosswalks.
Reiskin said today that vehicles in San Francisco strike roughly 800 people each year and that about 100 of those struck are seriously injured.
While Gascon said his office prosecuted all eight vehicular manslaughter cases that crossed his desk last year, he said today that he believes preventative measures, such as engineering and public awareness, are the real solutions and could greatly decrease the number of traffic-related deaths in San Francisco.
2-ALARM MISSION FIRE DISPLACES 10 RESIDENTS, CAUSES MORE THAN $650K IN DAMAGES
Ten San Francisco residents were displaced on Wednesday when a two-alarm fire at a Mission District apartment building caused over $650,000 in damages, a fire spokeswoman said today.
San Francisco fire spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge said the blaze, located in the 500 block of Bartlett Street near Cesar Chavez and Mission streets was reported around 12:45 p.m. Wednesday and affected two residential units in the two-story building.
Talmadge said the building sustained about $500,000 in property damage and about $150,000 in damage to its contents.
She said the blaze also caused damage to the siding of a neighboring building on Bartlett Street. That damage is estimated to be around $5,000.
Firefighters brought the fire under control shortly before 1:30 p.m., Talmadge said.
No injuries were reported and the Red Cross assisted the displaced residents, she said.
Talmadge said it appears the fire was mostly limited to the rear part of the building’s top floor and attic.
The blaze might have started in a dryer, but the exact cause remains under investigation, Talmadge said.
UGLIEST YARD COMPETITION RAISING AWARENESS OF DROUGHT TOLERANT PLANTS
The City of San Francisco is asking residents to compete to see who has the ugliest yard in town as a way of raising awareness for drought tolerant landscaping options.
The competition is being held as a kick off event for the newly launched SF Plant Finder database at www.sfplantfinder.org, which provides information about drought tolerant plants that do well on the Peninsula, according to the Department of the Environment.
The database is a community resource developed by the city’s Planning Department to help gardeners and homeowners enhance San Francisco’s urban ecology also while conserving water. The plants in the database are mostly San Francisco natives that are well adapted to the local climate, according to the department.
San Francisco residents are invited upload photos of their ugly yards with a caption explaining why their yard needs a landscaping makeover.
To upload ugly-yard photos, go to the Department of the Environment’s website at www.sfenvironment.org/ugliest-yard or the department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SFEnvironment.
The contest started April 2 and ends May 15.
All contestants will receive a free packet of native plant seeds for participating. Three first-prize winners will get a free consultation with the department’s senior biodiversity coordinator and enough native plant seeds to makeover a 500 square foot yard.
The grand-prize winner will receive a free yard makeover with drought tolerant native plants from Madrono Landscape Design studio.
First-prize winners will be determined based on the number of votes received by each submission. The grand-prize winner will be selected by a panel of judges, according to the department.