The vision we share with many is that no pedestrian or bicyclist will be fatally injured by a vehicle in San Francisco – ever. The City of San Francisco is behind Vision Zero with a mandate to bring traffic deaths to zero by 2024. This year has been looking on track at reducing pedestrian fatalities, but we have reversed our progress for bicyclists and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has already said it is unacceptable. As bicycle accident attorneys, we agree. On Thursday, September 13th 2018, the fourth bicyclist this year was fatally injured by a vehicle in San Francisco.
To put this number into perspective, since 2009, the two times San Francisco has seen as many bicyclist fatalities were in years with over 30 total traffic fatalities: 2013 and 2015*. 2013 in particular was the year with the most overall traffic fatalities since 2010. It’s only September and we have already reached this unfortunate target. Based on traffic collision statistics, it is impossible to say that there won’t be another bicyclist fatality in San Francisco this year. Data is still being compiled for this year, but last year was a record breaking year with low numbers and this year had been low as well. Unfortunately, it is turning out to be unacceptably high for bicyclist accidents and fatalities, especially compared to the ratio of overall traffic fatalities for 2018:
Why Are Bicycle Accidents on The Rise in San Francisco?
The increase in injuries and fatalities is on the rise in the state by some data. It is harder to be certain when looking at data for 2018 as so much of it is still being aggregated. The Govenors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) which reviews road safety in all states found that in 2016 and 2017 pedestrians are now the largest proportion of traffic fatalities nationwide than they have been in 33 years. More people outside of cars are dying; it is on the rise as a nation and as a state. Year after year California fluctuates at the top of the nation for the state with the highest number of bicyclists and pedestrians killed each year in traffic collisions. Usually, we’re first in total number of deaths, but sometimes we’re second. This means what San Francisco is trying to do with Vison Zero goes against the majority of the nation, state, and metro-area statistics. It will take education, engineering, and enforcement, but as bicycle accident attorneys and advocates for safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists, we believe it is possible.
The most recent incident occurred outside of a Vision Zero high-injury corridor on the 1600 block on Howard Street near South Van Ness and 12th Streets (Hoodline). The cyclist was on his way to a bicycling rally to advocate for more protected bike lanes (SF Examiner). Studies have been showing bicyclists feel safer in these protected lanes and they are a part of Vision Zero. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is calling for quick action and asks that San Francisco do a better job to prevent more loss in their press release following this terrible tragedy.
What Can You Do To Prevent The Next Traffic Fatality?
- Don’t touch your phone! Not for a call, text, or map. Never drive distracted. In 2015, 10% of traffic fatalities resulted from distracted driving (NHTSA). This is easy for you to avoid.
- Never drive impaired by alcohol, drugs, or medications. Drivers who were impaired by drugs or alcohol in collisions resulting in a fatality has been dramatically increasing! In 2015 it was up to 42.6% (NHTSA). And the worst time for this is during the holidays… which is coming up.
- Slow down. To put it simply: speed kills. Approximately 31% of traffic fatalities are a result of speeding as the main factor (NHTSA). And experts believe the increase in fatalities is due to more people speeding… Are you really in that big of a hurry?
Rahman Law PC is dedicated to making San Francisco’s streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists because we walk and ride these streets, too! As bicycle accident attorneys we regularly attend events and advocate for pedestrian and bicyclist rights. Four deaths in one year is a setback in the progress everyone has been working so hard for, but we will not give up. Even one death is one too many.
*Data from Vision Zero SF. Some data is still under investigation.