Less than 5 months into 2013 and already 5 pedestrians have been killed by motorists on San Francisco’s city streets. If this tragic trend continues at this rate through the end of the year, than more people will be killed this year than last year. This is a frustrating statistic for many pedestrian advocates who have been waiting for the comprehensive pedestrian reform Mayor Gavin Newsom called for in 2010. The proposed reform would reduce pedestrian injuries and fatalities by 25 percent by 2016 and 50 percent by 2021.
Many people, including Elizabeth Stampe of Walk SF, blame the Mayor’s Office for its lack of leadership on the issue. However, Jason Henderson, an urban planning professor at San Francisco State University, says that the Board of Supervisors also shares in the blame. In general, the stifling bureaucracy at City Hall stalls any actual safety improvements.
The tragic deaths over the last four months may be the catalyst for actual change. Or they could become just another yearly statistic, a tragic commentary on the lack of progress in pedestrian safety in the City.