Change the Rules to Make Pedestrian Safety a Priority

Posted Thursday May 30, 2013 by Natalie

Change the Rules to Make Pedestrian Safety a Priority
Walk SF Supports Supervisor Wiener’s Efforts to Reduce Pedestrian Project Delays

Sidewalks and street conditions in many of San Francisco’s neighborhoods don’t have the capacity to safely carry their current pedestrian traffic.

The City needs to focus on implementing pedestrian safety projects to improve its streets, like the sidewalk widening on Castro Street and the bulb-outs and pedestrian plaza at Dolores and Market. However these projects often get tangled up by outdated codes and interagency bureaucracy.

To combat this bureaucratic inertia, Supervisor Scott Wiener has introduced pedestrian safety legislation that will be heard at the Land Use and Economic Development Committee on Monday, June 3.

“While our city policies identify pedestrian safety as a priority, our actual rules undermine pedestrian safety by causing projects to get tangled up by interagency bureaucracy, conflicting policy priorities, and outdated codes,” Supervisor Weiner said in a statement. “As a result, projects that do get built are unnecessarily expensive while others are either watered down or killed through death by a thousand bureaucratic cuts.”

The proposed legislation consists of four parts:
  • an ordinance that mandates interagency coordination by creating a centralized Street Design Review Committee;
  • an accompanying resolution calling for city agencies to modernize street code provisions, better coordinate their efforts around public projects, and formulate clear procedures to do so;
  • an ordinance making it easier for developers to build pedestrian safety projects and gift them to the city; and
  • an ordinance amending the Fire Code to ensure that pedestrian safety projects are not unnecessarily impeded by the code’s definition of minimum street width.

In April, Mayor Ed Lee released the Pedestrian Strategy – a plan to fix 44 miles of the city’s most dangerous streets to reduce pedestrian traffic fatalities by 25 percent by 2016, and 50 percent by 2021.  The proposed ordinances would require cooperation between city departments that each currently have the power to veto pedestrian improvement projects — ensuring the city’s goals can be met more effectively.

Walk SF’s Elizabeth Stampe agrees: “From Valencia to Fell and Oak to Broadway, there are examples of this on almost every street-improvement project in the city, plus many more that never happened at all, despite clear community demand. It is critical to reduce the delays and vetoes behind closed doors that drive up costs, weaken projects beyond recognition, or kill them entirely.”

Support these rule changes to make pedestrian safety a priority — join Walk SF in supporting these ordinances:

Land Use and Economic Development Committee 
Monday, June 3 at 1: 30 p.m. (agenda)
City Hall, Room 263 

If you can’t attend the hearing, send your feedback:

Email Supervisors on the committee at  Scott.Wiener@sfgov.org, Jane.Kim@sfgov.org, andDavid.Chiu@sfgov.org.

Join the growing movement for a more walkable, livable city. Start or renew your Walk SF membership as a Sustainer; $10 a month will help win change on the streets!