On Monday, August 18, kids all over the city get back to their school year routine of walking, bicycling, busing and being driven to classes.
This year, Walk San Francisco expects these family morning routines to be safer thanks to increased enforcement around 15-mph school zones and the City’s adoption of Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities in 10 years.
Two years ago, Walk SF lead the effort to install 15-mph school zones, making San Francisco the first major city in California to slow speeds citywide around 181 schools. Earlier in 2014, with the launch of Vision Zero earlier, Walk SF led the call for safer streets, urging the San Francisco Police Department to increase traffic enforcement, targeting citations on the five most dangerous driving behaviors, including speeding.
During the first week of classes, SFPD will be conducting extra enforcement around schools, in addition to ongoing enforcement throughout the school year. With speed being the number one cause of traffic deaths, the message this back-to-school week will be to slow down, or pay up.
“At SFPD we know that enforcement is a key component to achieving Vision Zero,” said San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr. “As kids head back to school, the Police Department will be doing our part to make sure they get to and from school safely.”
Walking to school is a cherished time for families, that’s why Walk SF, as a member of the San Francisco Safe Routes to Schools Partnership, works to support and encourage walking and biking to school.
A parent, Nikolai Kaestner notes, “Walking to school allows us to share a quiet moment with our son during an otherwise hectic day. After his morning exercise, he arrives at school ready to focus and learn.”
Yet according to the SF Safe Routes to Schools Partnership, while 42% of all elementary school students live within walking distance of school, only 26% of students walk.
The top three concerns cited by parents who choose not to walk or bike with their children to school are related to traffic safety. To encourage and support families to walk and bike to school, the City must make its streets safer — the goal set by Vision Zero. As a member of the SF Safe Routes to Schools Partnership, SFPD was the first City agency to commit to this goal of zero traffic deaths in ten years.
Through their commitment to safety, SFPD have written 61% more traffic citations in the first half of 2014 as compared to the first half of 2013.