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San Francisco Is One of the Most Deadly U.S. City for Pedestrians

City government is aiming for zero deaths. They have a long way to go.

Pedestrians in San Francisco. 

The New Year's Eve death of a six-year-old girl (and the accident this afternoon in which an Uber car hit a pedestrian) hit and killed by a car, has focused City Hall's attention on traffic safety. Last night at a joint hearing of the Police Commission and Board of Supervisor's Neighborhood Services and Safety Committee, city officials continued to signal widespread support for Supervisor Kim's "Vision Zero" plan introduced on Tuesday, which calls for cutting pedestrian deaths to zero by 2024.  Separately, Mayor Lee also introduced an awareness campaign and police said that a crackdown on unsafe driving had produced 55 citations within a two hour period on Thursday. Though there are many competing attempts at a solution, there is relatively clear support across city politicians and government officials that the pedestrian death rate is dangerously high.

They're right. A review of the data indicates that, per capita, San Francisco is one of the most dangerous cities in America for people who are walking. 

In 2013, San Francisco suffered 20 pedestrian fatalities, the highest number since 2007. That puts our death rate per capita at 0.0024%. How does that compare to other cities in the United States?

Poorly. New York City had the overall highest number of pedestrian deaths in 2013, with 173. (That number lead incoming Mayor Bill de Blasio to issue his own zero traffic deaths plan.) But New York's much-higher population left it with a pedestrian death rate of 0.0021%—slightly lower than our own. Similarly, San Jose had 24 pedestrian deaths, leaving it with a rate of 0.0024%. By contrast, the numbers in Chicago were just 22 and 0.0008%. Nearing the top of the list was Las Vegas with at least 40 and 0.0067%.

It's no wonder, then, that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration declared back in August that San Francisco was one of the 22 most dangerous cities for pedestrians in America. Let's hope we can get ourselves off of that list as soon as possible.

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