Just when we thought that San Francisco has seen enough pedestrian injuries and fatalities, a new study is released indicating that this trend is continuing and unfortunately pedestrian fatalities are on the uprise.
I am pleased to report that San Francisco plans to implement new measures to improve pedestrian safety. This effort, however (in part), overshadows the fact that
"the number of pedestrians killed this year is on pace to surpass the death toll from each of the two previous years."
It's a bitter pill to have to swallow; according to the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco, a contemporary city--with a modern infrastructure as well as sophisticated and intelligent population--has already had 10 pedestrian fatalities this year (and we are only half way into 2012). This pedestrian fatality figure compares to 2011's 17 and 2010's 15.
As a San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Attorney, I know that before this very recent upward trend, San Francisco has averaged 17 pedestrian deaths per year.
One of the more commented-about pedestrian incidents occurred this year when Chris Bucchere, a 36-year-old bicyclist, struck and killed 71-year-old pedestrian Sutchi Hui in the Castro on March 29. While this bicycle pedestrian fatality has gained much notoriety here in the City, we should remember that bicyclists usually do not present much of a threat to pedestrians in comparison with cars, trucks and buses. And although Mr. Bucchere is being prosecuted by the SF District Attorney's office, we do not hear nearly as much about the pedestrian deaths caused by MUNI buses, trucks, buses or other motorists.
For instance, Sena Putra, 47, an accountant at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute, was hit and killed by a gasoline tanker while reportedly walking in a crosswalk at Folsom and 13th streets at lunchtime on May 17.
The list goes on... Whether these collisions are the motorist's fault or the pedestrian's (or a combination of both), the streets of San Francisco are clearly not as safe as they should be for pedestrians. I am blogging here with the hope that I can help to spread the word to keep an eye out for pedestrians. And to pedestrians, even though you have the right of way, don't cross before you know that the bus, car or truck is stopping for you.
It is not as if the City of San Francisco has not tried to improve pedestrian safety. Two years ago, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced in a press release that he was implementing short-term priority pedestrian safety actions to create and implement a longer-term Pedestrian Action Plan to make it safer to walk in San Francisco, targeting a reduction of serious and fatal pedestrian injuries and creating a citywide target of a 25% reduction in serious and fatal pedestrian injuries by 2016 and 50% reduction by 2021. His Pedestrian Safety Task Force, however, is said to have fallen short on results, unfortunately.
I concur that more needs to be done to help pedestrians feel safe, such as issuing higher fines for speeders and those who do not honor the pedestrian right of way in crosswalks (with more regularity) and more control over the timing of traffic lights to optimize traffic flow.
About the author: Claude Wyle is an aggressive advocate for San Francisco pedestrians. Claude has decades of experience representing those harmed by the wrongful conduct of others, and, as a Bay Area personal injury attorney, has fought to protect the rights of injured adults and children throughout his legal career.