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Reflecting on ten years of Vision Zero – and what’s next

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San Francisco just marked ten years since adopting Vision Zero: a proven, preventative approach to end severe and fatal crashes.

While Vision Zero continues to be the right approach and the right goal, it is not yet a success story here. But it can be. San Francisco can become a city that prioritizes safety over driver convenience and a truly transit-first city. San Francisco can be a place where our streets bring us together instead of threatening our lives.

That was part of my message at the press event that Mayor London Breed held on the steps of City Hall last week. I’m grateful to everyone who was there to show that we need to see meaningful change now, and that the next decade of Vision Zero must be transformative.

Mayor Breed launched a new transportation vision, and said this at City Hall:

“My message to all the street safety advocates here – that want to see bold, courageous change in the streets of San Francisco – is that we are prepared to be aggressive in implementing that change, to do what’s necessary in order to make a difference.”

The City must do what’s necessary. If you’re reading this, I know you share that feeling of desperation for change to protect precious human life, plus prevent the hundreds of often debilitating and traumatic severe crashes happening each year.

Vision Zero this year

There is crucial work that Walk SF is eager for the City to complete in 2024 in support of Vision Zero. This includes:

  • Getting basic safety fixes on 900 dangerous intersections. Walk SF continues to closely monitor the SFTMA’s progress on this. Mayor Breed specifically gave a directive for this to be completed on-schedule by the end of 2024.
  • An aggressive plan to expand daylighting. Mayor Breed asked the SFMTA to create a plan and policy within three months for how the SFMTA will implement the new state daylighting law, which makes it illegal to park or stop within 20 feet from a marked crosswalk. Walk SF has already been thinking about this opportunity and we’ll push for SFMTA to think big.
  • Moving speed cameras forward quickly – and with key actions to amplify their effect. We have spoken in strong support of the SFMTA’s data-based approach to getting speed cameras on the ground. But we need drivers to slow down everywhere, not just on the 33 streets getting speed cameras, so we’re asking for three key actions in 2025. Join us on Tuesday, April 16 at City Hall to echo our message to #SlowOurStreets.

Mayor Breed also issued a directive to move forward a citywide No Turn on Red policy within three months that goes beyond a planned expansion to downtown and SOMA. No Turn on Red is a pedestrian-first solution Walk SF supports.

And on Thursday, April 25, there will be a Public Safety and Neighborhood Services hearing starting at 10AM at City Hall on the SF Police Department’s revised plan to enforce dangerous speeding, which has plummeted in recent years. Walk SF will be there, and you’re welcome to join us.

Vision Zero going into the next decade

As I said in my op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, it’s time for Vision Zero to get the focus, funding, and full authority needed to succeed.

That means more solutions applied at a faster pace, at a broader scale, and in a much more layered way. Yes, some changes need to happen at the state and federal levels (like vehicle safety standards and speed-limiting technology), but most of the tools needed are in the City’s hands already.

It’s about priorities and political will.

Ten years ago, Walk SF was the leading voice for San Francisco’s adoption of Vision Zero. Today, the safe streets movement is so much bigger and stronger, which is wonderful.

We’ve also had historic wins like JFK Promenade, Slow Streets, and car-free Market Street start showing people what’s really possible. Because Vision Zero is also about becoming the kind of city we want to be. Safe streets make our neighborhoods stronger and healthier, and more equitable, joyful, and connected.

So join us in working together – in fighting together – for our lives and the future of San Francisco’s streets. Walk SF will soon announce how we’re bringing every voice possible together to shape a new, bolder vision for Vision Zero. And that means you!

Because as City Attorney David Chiu said at City Hall, “We collectively believe that the right number for the number of deaths that happen on our roads is zero. We believe in zero.”

Are you involved with a neighborhood or community group that cares about safe streets? Consider joining the Vision Zero Coalition. Learn more and attend the next meeting.

Banner image: Emily Huston