SF puts $17 million toward pedestrian safety

Mayor Ed Lee along with other city agencies announced Thursday that San Francisco will invest $17 million over the next five years on pedestrian safety projects.

The City will start focusing on the most dangerous intersections and corridors, which include the Tenderloin, North Beach, Financial District and SoMa neighborhood.

Several of the city’s agencies, including the Municipal Transportation Agency, Planning Department, Transportation Authority and Department of Public Health created WalkFirst — a data-driven program that included ideas from the public on where they would like see pedestrian improvements.

The program mapped out 170 “high-priority” locations that the mayor said The City will focus on with pedestrian safety projects using the $17 million.

Some of measures could include adding speed humps, pedestrian countdown signals, signal timing changes and protected left turns.

The City could get a boost in funding of $50 million if voters pass transportation ballot measures come November put forth by the mayor. The $50 million would cover 265 intersections.

Lee as unveiled his public awareness campaign “Be Nice, Look Nice.” Ads on Muni buses, print, broadcast and social media will have safety messages reminding the public to not be distracted while driving or walking.

Enforcement will also play a big role in pedestrian safety, said Lee:

“I’ve asked the police department that while I do have an awareness campaign that says be nice look and twice, I’m asking my officers to not be so nice. Enforcement is about that discipline that we have to have in people’s behavior.”

Police Chief Greg Suhr said in a statement that the department is focusing on the five most dangerous intersections in each district and the five most common violations related to traffic collisions:

“The SFPD is committed to the aggressive enforcement of traffic laws as part of The City’s collective approach to eliminate serious pedestrian injuries and fatalities.”

Lee also mentioned the site of a pedestrian fatality last month near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Yorba Street. Isaak Berenzon, 78, was struck and killed by a car while crossing the intersection.

Two weeks later, another pedestrian was struck at the same intersection. He survived.

The intersection does not have a traffic signal expect for blinking yellow lights to tell drivers to yield to the pedestrian crossing.

Lee said The City is placing a traffic signal at the intersection by the end of the year. Until then, a dedicated police officer is assigned to that location.