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. In 2010, Mayor Gavin Newsom established a city goal of reducing serious and fatal pedestrian injuries by 50% by 2021 and directed City agencies to coordinate the development of a pedestrian action plan towards this end. The SFDPH is co-leading this effort along with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). 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
- Research on best practices for pedestrian safety
- 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 Action Plan, we hope to make recommendations for enhancing surveillance systems and integrating 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. The Department is building an integrated Pedestrian Safety Geodatabase which combines data on environmental, social, and demographic factors that contribute to pedestrian injuries with data on the spatial location of pedestrian injuries.
Analyzing the Causes of Pedestrian Injury Collision in San Francisco
SFDPH developed a method to identify the roads in the city with the highest intensity of fatalities and injuries, 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, intereactive 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 2010.
With partners at the SFMTA, the Department is conducting detailed analysis of high-injury corridors to focus the application of engineering and enforcement countermeasures.
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.
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.
Research on Best Practices for Pedestrian Safety
SFDPH 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 co-chairs the Pedestrian Safety Task Force which is developing San Francisco’s Pedestrian Action Plan.
The Department has conducted several assessments of San Francisco policies, plans, and projects that impact pedestrians. These include:
- Road Pricing HIA
- HIA on the Treasure Island Community Transportation Plan
- Health Impacts of Traffic in the Excelsior
- HIA of the HOPE SF Public Housing Redevelopment
- Jewish Home of San Francisco: Existing Conditions and Recommendations
The Department is currently advising 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.
Staff from the Program on Health, Equity and Sustainability are participating in the SFDPH-led Walk First partnership which developed an approach to target pedestrian investment to areas both with the greatest opportunity for walking and the highest numbers of pedestrian injuries, including severe and fatal collisions.
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.