Protect pedestrians, crack down on red light runners

Some of WalkFirst's pedestrian safety design options.

It’s good to see City Hall finally focusing on pedestrian safety in San Francisco, where the streets are more dangerous than ever for their most vulnerable users, with the number of pedestrians and cyclists killed by motorists spiking last year.

Better streetscape design is part of the solution, and the advocacy group WalkSF will be holding the latest in its series of focus groups this Saturday seeking solutions to the problem. It is working with city agencies on a program called WalkFirst to address the issue.

But there’s another solution that’s even more obvious and immediate, and Sup. Scott Wiener hit on it at yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting when he said (according to the Examiner), “It’s remarkable how little traffic enforcement we have...I’ve never been in a place with less traffic enforcement than in this city.”

Actually, it isn’t that the San Francisco Police Department doesn’t do traffic enforcement, as we learned this fall when officers pulled over dozens of cyclists slowly cruising through stop signs on the Wiggle. The problem is that SFPD ignores the most obvious and dangerous violations: motorists running red lights and otherwise driving recklessly.

Everyday on my commute home up Market Street, I see at least three anxious drivers running red lights. Everyday! This morning, on my way to work, a driver ran a red light right in front of an SFPD cruiser, and that officer ignored it. These drivers are speeding up within reach of pedestrians, who often wrongly assume green means they are safe to cross.

So drivers need to take a breath and realize the seconds they save isn’t worth the risk they’re taking with other people’s lives. And the SFPD needs to ticket more of these drivers and start sending the message that such selfishness won’t be tolerated.  


when a cop gave him a warning for riding his bike illegally.

Two laws for all!

Posted by Matlock on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 7:04 pm

I think that we should require pedestrians to take some sort of competency test for access to the sidewalk and that should they pass, further conditioning pedestrians' access to the sidewalks to the strict requirement that they are to look both ways before crossing the street at all times, all circumstances, always.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 7:32 pm

"to the strict requirement that they are to look both ways before crossing the street at all times, all circumstances, always."

Good luck with that! Most pedestrians in this city don't look any direction from what I've observed. They look down at their gadget---scrolling through endless profiles on some sex app while crossing the street and then go home and jack off alone---or look straight ahead. Even though the city painted these:


notices on the street years ago. From what I see, most pedestrians in this city put all responsibility on the motorists and cyclists to not hit them (pedestrians). Most pedestrians seem to have reneged all responsibility for their behavior as a pedestrian, mainly because of their gadget addiction. Clearly they would rather be hit by a car or a cyclist than to take a moment and look up (in both directions) and away from that all-important screen.

Posted by Nonpartisan Guest on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 7:54 pm

used to test the traffic waters.

Posted by Matlock on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 11:59 pm

otherwise not paying attention are taking greater risks.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 7:45 am

"I’ve never been in a place with less traffic enforcement than in this city.”

Well that doesn't mean anything. They had more in southern New Jersey where he's from?

"This morning, on my way to work, a driver ran a red light right in front of an SFPD cruiser, and that officer ignored it."

Yes, I've seen that happen too.

Posted by Nonpartisan Guest on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 7:40 pm

It's a serious question. Because if you're serious about pedestrian deaths, there's a growing body of evidence in plain sight that shows how you can dramatically reduce red light violations (maybe by a whopping 90%): longer yellow lights.

The great thing is that this solution saves pedestrians, doesn't hurt drivers (i.e. ordinary San Franciscans going about their daily lives), and doesn't involve a police crackdown. It's the classic win-win solution, and much more progressive than calling for police crackdowns. You should do a story on that.

We have a growing problem with abuse of red light cameras in this city. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is pretty much an antiquated concept in today's judicial system. And we have a city that looks upon traffic tickets as a method of revenue generation -Twitter gets a tax break, and the people of San Francisco get higher parking and traffic fines.

There's a better way, and it doesn't involve cops busting more people. Why isn't the Guardian advocating for this very simple, proven solution?

Posted by Greg on Jan. 08, 2014 @ 8:17 pm

Why don't you lead by example and stop at every red light and stop sign?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 7:46 am

If I ride my bike through a red light at 5 mph, that's not going to kill or seriously injure anyone. Motorists wield deadly weapons and should bear a greater responsibility for the hazards they pose, particularly when speeding up as the light turns red. The statistics clearly show the greater danger to pedestrians is cars, so if you want to improve pedestrian safety, focus on the real threat. 

Posted by steven on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 2:45 pm

But the real reason to stop at a red light ot stop sign is because it is the law and you are trying to further respect for the law. It starts with you.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 4:00 pm

No, I'm arguing that we should respect one another and protect the most vulnerable road users. And the two cyclist-pedestrian fatalities you referenced were in the last three years, and they were both rare aberrations (I can't even find a reference to the last one that occurred before the one from 2011 you referenced). By comparison, 20 pedestrians were killed by cars in San Francisco in the last year. I know you have emotional issues with cyclists, Guest, but if we're talking about protecting pedestrians, the real danger comes from cars.  

Posted by steven on Jan. 13, 2014 @ 1:30 pm

Had the per looked both ways prior to crossing the street, he'd be alive today if he'd not expired naturally of old age.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 13, 2014 @ 2:17 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2014 @ 4:07 pm

I'd link it but your deeply flawed CAPCTCA would self-destruct.

Google it.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 13, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

A bicycle going 5 mph is going pretty slow. Walking pace is 3 mph.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 4:14 pm

I am fairly certain that the six year old girl who was killed in a crosswalk last week while walking with her mother and little brother was not "looking at her device"...

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 11:20 am

It's at least worth asking the question.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 11:47 am

They were crossing With the green light.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 4:08 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 4:20 pm

Um, no he wasn't.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 5:10 pm

and was speeding and riding carelessly. That is why he was prosecuted.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 5:30 pm

Look, some drivers are careless. Even some careful drivers have accidents. Some pedestrians are also careless. As someone who travels a lot, I've definitely noticed that pedestrians in San Francisco have been trained in this mentality that you can cross anywhere, anytime. Cars will often (not always, but often) come to a screeching halt the moment I step into the street, even though it is my intention to wait for them to pass. There is no denying that in countries where the rules of the road say that cars have the right of way and it's incumbent on pedestrians to watch out, the net effect is that pedestrians watch out.

But barring changing the rules of the road, which won't happen, I put forth a practical, scientifically proven solution to reduce both pedestrian deaths and other accidents. It's simple, doesn't rely on blaming one group or the other, doesn't cost a dime to implement, and doesn't involve police crackdowns. And it doesn't seem to be on the radar of any of the groups that purport to care about pedestrian safety.


Posted by Greg on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 12:22 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 1:22 pm

On both sides. The bike haters just want to screw bikes. The car haters just want to screw drivers. And it is about screwing other people. It's not even about making things better for their side anymore; it's just about taking it out on the "other." Witness the absence of logic in blaming bikes for pedestrian deaths, when any objective observer can see that bikes are only a tiny piece of the problem. Witness GPD's vindictive hatred toward cars, calling for 20mph speed limits and aggressive camera enforcement, without any regard for liberty or even effectiveness. Both sides use the rhetoric of pedestrian safety, but neither side seems to care about anything other than pushing their narrow ideological agenda. The city doesn't care either. They just want the revenue. So the path of least resistance is to get cops to bust more people, even if it does nothing for pedestrian safety.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 11:01 pm

How many did cyclist kill? Let's start with the people doing the slaughtering here, rather than focus on some miniscule problem.

All streets except expressways need to have 20 MPH speed limits, enforced by automatic ticket issuing cameras.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

Cyclists can show an example here.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

20mph speed limit is a litttttttle too low. But mainly, no one would ever follow it, just like no one ( hardly anyone, I'm sure there's a few that do) ever follows current speed limits. It would just make the city of San Francisco a bunch of extra money for when the SFPD actually decided to enforce the speed limit.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2014 @ 10:35 pm

Cameras would never fly for such an idea, which is why I mentioned the sfpd

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2014 @ 10:38 pm

7 of these were caused by Pedestrians (running red lights, jaywalking, etc). More than 1/3. Plus yesterdays at Grant and Pine.

Posted by Richmondman on Jan. 14, 2014 @ 4:31 pm

If you cross the street gazing into a screen, bad things happen.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 14, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

My close calls have been with drivers not paying attention, or simply running red lights. Yet whenever City Hall talks about making streets safe for people walking they go on about careless walkers, not drivers.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 4:12 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 09, 2014 @ 4:21 pm

So why is the San Francisco Police Department not issuing tickets to drivers who run red lights and stop signs? Why do they not make this issue a priority. Drivers running through stop signs happens all day long in my neighborhood (West Portal).
The city could make a fortune of of these careless drivers!

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2014 @ 12:11 am
Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2014 @ 6:31 am

Here's two ways many California red light cam tickets can be beat:

1. Check to see if it is a Snitch Ticket, the fake/phishing camera tickets California police send out to bluff car owners into ID'ing the actual driver. Snitch Tickets say, at the top, "Courtesy Notice-This is not a ticket," and you can ignore them! Skeptical? Google: Snitch Ticket.

2. Were you down in the LA area? Even a REAL red light camera ticket from ANY city (or the sheriff) in LA County can be ignored, as the LA courts do not report ignored camera tickets to the DMV. This was revealed in LA Times articles in 2011. Skeptical? Google: Red light camera no consequence.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 10, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

My dad was pulled over by a police officer for the reason "not letting pedestrian cross" along with a Ford Mustang in front of us. The police officer was originally pulling over the Ford Mustang and my dad honked by mistake and he decided to pull us over as well. He states that there was a yellow FLASHING light that we were going through when a pedestrian tried to cross. We went back to check and that was a total lie. Then we saw 3 other cops pulling other people over. I then saw the same cop pulling three other cars over at once. They keep pulling people over for the same reason out of no where.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 25, 2014 @ 8:16 am

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