Skip links

The life-saving potential of tackling speed in San Francisco is real

 In Uncategorized

Slower streets are safer streets

I just got back from New York City. Everywhere I went in Brooklyn and Manhattan, I saw signs like the one in the photo above: “CITY SPEED LIMIT 25 – PHOTO ENFORCED.”

Each time I saw one of these signs, I thought about San Francisco, where speed is the #1 factor in severe and fatal traffic crashes. Maddeningly, for San Francisco to lower speed limits on residential and commercial streets, a state law must be passed. The same holds true for bringing speed safety cameras to our city (New York City will have more than 2,000 in 2020).

That means we have some big hurdles to overcome before we can see signs like those in New York City. But thanks to the generosity of so many people over the past several weeks, Walk SF has launched the Slow Our Streets campaign.

The Slow Our Streets campaign will push for every possible way to end unsafe speeds, including winning lower speed limits, speed safety cameras, and the kinds of safety improvements needed on dangerous streets to encourage safer, slower driving. We’ll also hold the SF Police Department accountable on enforcement, which has plummeted in the past two years.

Slower streets are safer streets, it’s as simple as that. But slower streets are also so much more pleasant and humanizing.

It was unexpected and notable how I felt walking in different areas in New York City. Vehicles for the most part did seem to move slower on average than they do in San Francisco; this was true even on residential streets with no congestion. I was able to relax a little, enjoying a break from what I feel so often in San Francisco: my heart racing from both fear and anger when someone speeds by.

New York City obviously hasn’t reached Vision Zero yet, and like San Francisco, saw a jump in traffic fatalities in 2019 after several years of notable progress.

But the life-saving potential of tackling speed in San Francisco is real. And together with voices like yours, we intend to realize that potential with the Slow Our Streets campaign in 2020.

Want to read more about what slower streets can mean in San Francisco?