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San Francisco

New Pedestrian Safety Banners Urge Drivers To Slow Down Along Dangerous Corridors

In a neighborhood well-known for its tech offices and leather bars, it's easy to overlook the many children and families that call SoMa home. Yesterday, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim held a press conference to highlight a key safety concern for SoMa families, with the unveiling of new banners that urge city drivers to slow down for pedestrians.

"When I walk to school, I want to be safe and comfortable," said Leon Mills, a fifth grader at Bessie Carmichael School in SoMa.

The banners are part of the education component of San Francisco's Vision Zero program, which aims to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by the year 2024. Developed in collaboration with the Department of Health and funded by Kim's office, the 300 banners have been installed on streetlight poles on the city's highest-injury corridors, mainly located across SoMa and the Tenderloin.

Kim said she worked with the community to identify local residents and business owners to feature on the banners, with the hopes that using real faces would drive home the message that "people live here."

One SoMa resident featured on the banners is Debi Gould (pictured on the banner above, with her dog). Gould became a pedestrian safety advocate after her friend was struck and killed by a semi-truck driver while walking Gould's dog in the neighborhood. At the press conference, Gould said that drivers and pedestrians are too concerned with watching for cars and need to remember to look for people. Her advice for pedestrians: look both ways and make eye contact with all drivers before crossing.

Ana Validzic, pedestrian safety project coordinator for the Department of Health, and Nicole Ferrara, executive director of Walk SF, also underscored how decreasing speeds will help the city reach its Vision Zero goals. Validzic noted that one out of 10 pedestrians dies from being struck by a vehicle traveling 20mph, while nine out of 10 die when struck by a vehicle traveling 40mph.

In addition to driver education, the city has installed a crossing guard at the corner of Folsom and Seventh streets, and will create a new crosswalk at Howard and Russ streets, Kim said. SFPD's Traffic Division and Southern Station are also visibly enforcing speed limits in the area.

Sergeant William Murray monitoring traffic on Folsom Street with a radar gun. 

The SFMTA is also a key collaborator on Vision Zero implementation. John Knox White, a senior traffic planner with SFMTA's Sustainable Streets program, told us that the department is working with the SFPD and DPH on an education and enforcement campaign targeting speeders. Rolling out next spring, the campaign will target drivers citywide, as well as specific corridors with high rates of pedestrian injuries and deaths.

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