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Let’s greenlight a no-turn-on-red policy in San Francisco

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We need to reduce conflict in the crosswalk

Crossing the street at a crosswalk should be as safe as using the sidewalk. Sadly, that’s not always the case in San Francisco. Close to 40% of collisions happen when drivers fail to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk according to an SFMTA report.

When we need to cross the street, we look to the red stoplight to make a break in traffic, the crossing signal to tell us when it is safe to walk, and the countdown timers to see if we have time to cross. But if vehicles are allowed to turn at the same time we have the “walk sign,” we’re at risk.

That’s where no-turn-on-red can make a big difference. This pedestrian-first solution gives both people and cars their dedicated time, preventing dangerous conflict in the crosswalk.

Last month, SFMTA Director Amanda Eaken suggested that San Francisco should pursue a comprehensive no-turn-on-red policy in order to improve crosswalk safety. Walk San Francisco agrees. New York City has a citywide no-right-on-red policy; we want to see SFMTA enact a similar one on the high-injury network, the 13% of San Francisco streets that account for 75% of crashes.

Some of the busiest and most dangerous intersections have no-right-on-red already, but this simple solution should be at all of them. It’s also cheap – just the cost of a new sign – as well as easy for both drivers and pedestrians to interpret. Thanks to amendments to the City’s transportation code passed by the SFMTA Board earlier this month, adding no-right-on-red happen faster, too (which they need to!).

It’s going to take some really big, transformative policies to truly create safe streets for all and a San Francisco that puts people first on our streets. But in the meantime, we absolutely must use every tool available. So let’s greenlight a “no-turn-on-red” policy, San Francisco!