SFPD enforces safety of city walkers
September 14, 2010 8:58 PM
The San Francisco Police Department announced its month-long plan to improve pedestrian safety at dangerous intersections throughout the city.
The operations will take place during peak traffic hours at Geary Street, San Bruno Ave, Sixth Street, Bayshore Boulevard and Cole Valley to protect walkers from the leading causes of pedestrian fatalities such as right-of-way and speed violations. The police will also be ticketing pedestrians who improperly cross streets.
"We have the problem of high density [in San Francisco]," said Ana Validzic, Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Coordinator for the Department of Public Health. "Ten percent of people walk to work."
The enforcement plan is part of a yearlong police program that battles the climbing number of pedestrian injuries in the city and "will compliment current pedestrian safety efforts conducted, including proactive enforcement," according to a press release from the SFPD.
Undercover operations to catch traffic violators, car seat enforcement, aggressive driving patrols, and extra Driving Under Influence checkpoints are additions to current police traffic regulation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, San Francisco ranks first statewide in pedestrian fatalities and fourth on the national level. In a police press release from earlier this year, pedestrian deaths have been on the rise citywide with 70 fatalities between 2006 and 2009.
Reports by the health department showed the highest concentration of pedestrian injuries in the past six years occurred in the Mission, Tenderloin, and SoMa Districts. Last month, the hit-and-run death of a man on 19th and Folsom Streets in the Mission District marked the seventh pedestrian fatality this year.
While this represents a decline from 2009, pedestrian safety remains a pertinent issue.
"If there is a high number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the city year after year, it's time to do something about it," said Validzic.
According to Validzic, the health department and the SFPD applied for grants individually from the California Office of Traffic Safety and were rewarded a $200,000 joint grant. The health department will give their portion of the grant to community groups to work on pedestrian safety and to families to purchase child car seats.
The money distributed from the health department will help Portola Family Connection, a family support and community building center that will disperse reflector arm bands and flashing lights to the neighborhood to condone pedestrian safety.
"The grant made it possible for us to create awareness about the issue," said Erica Rendon, Family Support Manager for the Center. "[Pedestrian safety] is not what we normally do."
The SFPD, the lead agency in the program, will use the money to conduct research on dangerous intersections in the city.
Herbert Coteya, the crossing guard at 19th and Holloway Streets takes his job seriously. Wearing a yellow vest, Coteya provides extra protection every weekday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. by helping students cross the street holding up a stop sign at the congested intersection.
"My job is important because without me, people wouldn't pay attention to the light," he said.
Last year, Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) passed a bill that lowered the speed limit to 30 mph on 19th Avenue and designated the multi-lane street as a "double fine zone" for all traffic violations.
The new laws improved walking conditions, but the street still needs pedestrian countdown signals and more stop signs, said Coteya.
"We have a lot of walkers," said health department Project Coordinator Validzic. "We owe it to them to improve their safety."
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University