Pedestrian Safety

Walking is an essential human activity needed for access to daily needs. In a sustainable city, walking should be safe for all residents. Unfortunately, in many parts of San Francisco walking can be more dangerous than driving. Each year over the past decade, on average, cars and other motor vehicles have killed approximately 20 pedestrians and have injured 800 people walking. Half of fatal injuries in motor vehicle collisions in San Francisco are suffered by walkers.

Careful design of roads and enforcement of traffic safety laws can prevent most serious and fatal injuries. Known, effective safety interventions include traffic calming and automated speed enforcement. The San Francisco Pedestrian Strategy prepared by the Mayor's Pedestrian Safety Task Force (co-chaired by SFDPH and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) commits the City to the goals of reducing serious and fatal pedestrian injuries by 50% by 2021, along with reducing neighborhood injury inequities and increasing walking. Below are links and resources for the Program on Health, Equity and Sustainability activities supporting these long-range goals, including:

  • Improving data on pedestrian injuries
  • Analyzing the causes of fatal and non-fatal pedestrian injury collisions
  • Using data to inform better public policy

Improving Data on Pedestrian Injuries

Pedestrian injuries are often not reported to police. The Department is reviewing both the reporting of injured pedestrians and the collection and sharing of data among city agencies. Through the Pedestrian Strategy, we are working to enhance surveillance systems and integrate data from hospitals, emergency dispatch, the Medical Examiner’s office, the San Francisco Police Department, and SFMTA.

Data needed to effectively analyze the causes of injuries resides in many agencies. To support this work,SFDPH is developing an integrated Transportation Geodatabase--TransBASE--which includes over 200 spatially referenced variables from multiple city agencies and across a range of geographic scales including street, transit, collision, trip, land use, and population data, all linked to an intersection or street segment .

Analyzing the Causes of Pedestrian Injury Collision in San Francisco

SFDPH developed a method to identify the streets in the city with the highest intensity of fatalities and injuries, (updated in 2013 in collaboration with the SFMTA) and created a map of high injury corridors in San Francisco that now informs the city in targeting of enforcement efforts and engineering investments. An online, interactive version of the high injury corridors map can be found below. Zoom in to see the locations of severe pedestrian injuries and fatalities in San Francisco between 2005 and 2011.


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With partners at the SFMTA, SF Planning, the Controller’s Office, and the SF Transportation Authority, the Department is participating in WalkFirst, a data-driven process that will prioritize five years of capital improvements to achieve the Pedestrian Strategy. The updated high injury corridor map is informing this process, with more information available on the project website: http://walkfirst.sfplanning.org.

In 2011, the Department Chaired the Data Subcommittee of the Citywide Pedestrian Safety Task Force. The Pedestrian Safety Task Force Data Subcommittee produced a 2011 Year-End Report that summarizes the objectives and work of the subcommittee during that year in support of the near-term actions of the Mayor's Executive Directive, accomplishments, and recommendations for next steps to improve pedestrian safety and achieve the targets set forth in the Executive Directive. The report Appendices include nine comprehensive case study analyses of high pedestrian injury corridors in San Francisco conducted by the Data Subcommittee with recommendations to improve pedestrian safety on those corridors. As a part of this work, the Department also developed a report to inform targeted City efforts to reduce neighborhood inequities in severe and fatal pedestrian injuries.

In 2008, the SFDPH developed a model of neighborhood level causes of pedestrian collision, highlighting the importance of targeting efforts to neighborhoods with higher population densities and busier streets. Staff are currently analyzing the factors most important to pedestrian injuries at the intersection level.

The Department has developed the Pedestrian Environmental Quality Index to provide objective data regarding neighborhood pedestrian conditions and identify neighborhood disparities.

The Department in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control has analyzed the contribution of current traffic speeds to fatal collisions and developed a methodology to quantify the benefits of changes in speeds.

SFDPH also reviewed the international experience with automated speed enforcement technologies as well as the political and legal barriers to implementing automated speed enforcement in the United States.

Using Data to Inform Better Policy

SFDPH continues to co-chair the Pedestrian Safety Task Force which meets semi-annually.

The Department has conducted several assessments of San Francisco policies, plans, and projects that impact pedestrians. These include:

The Department advised staff of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on the selection and measurement of performance indicators for health and environmental justice as part of the regional Sustainable Community Strategy development process.

In 2005, the Department analyzed current metrics used for evaluating transportation impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act. This analysis contributed to a city process to replace current measures with ones that are more protective of pedestrian safety and environmental quality.

Contact

For questions on our work on Pedestrian Safety, contact Megan Wier, MPH, Epidemiologist and Lead for Health, Transportation and Equity at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .