Traffic Deaths Down, but 20 Too Many Died in 2017

This week, the City released preliminary statistics showing that traffic fatalities dropped from 30 in 2016 to 20 in 2017. Along with City leaders and our partners at Walk SF, your SF Bicycle Coalition gathered at City Hall to acknowledge strides made towards delivering the safe streets that San Franciscans deserve while redoubling our commitment to eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2024.

Our Executive Director Brian Wiedenmeier called on City leaders to end bureaucratic delays to safety improvements and challenged them to promptly deliver a truly visionary Better Market Street project. His remarks are below.

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In 2014, with pressure and leadership from many of the individuals and organizations here today, San Francisco officially adopted the ambitious goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on our streets. That bold commitment will be one of the enduring legacies of Mayor Ed Lee.

I know firsthand that Mayor Lee truly believed in achieving Vision Zero. He cared deeply about the safety of people walking and biking in our city, and he followed through by directing City agencies to deliver infrastructure improvements with speed and urgency. We owe it to Mayor Lee’s memory to remain just as urgently focused on delivering safer streets faster.

In 2017, San Francisco proved that progress towards an ambitious goal like Vision Zero is possible. Because of that progress, 10 more people are alive today. Ten people are biking and walking to work. Ten people are waiting for Muni. Ten people are coming home to their families tonight.

We are here today to acknowledge progress, but we are also here to recommit ourselves to Vision Zero. We will have to work even harder moving forward if we want 2017 to be the beginning of a trend and not just an aberration. Because — while we saw significant decreases in fatalities for people driving or riding in cars — those decreases were not nearly as significant for people walking and biking

In 2018, San Francisco must show even more resolve and urgency, and that will start with the individuals here in City Hall today.

Plans are in the works for Vision Zero safety improvements on 11th Street, along the Embarcadero, on Turk Street, Upper Market, for stretches of Folsom and Howard, and more. But without strong leadership, those plans will remain just that.

We also need strong leadership to see one of the city’s most-traveled, and most dangerous, streets transformed. The Better Market Street project will transform 2.2 miles of San Francisco’s arterial boulevard into a safe, comfortable and inviting place to walk, bike and take transit.

We have watched as this project, too, has experienced delays and setbacks. We cannot afford to wait any longer. For the safety of the thousands who travel down Market daily, construction must begin as soon as possible. We disrespect the memories of Thu Phan and Mark Heryer, who both died on Market Street in recent years, by permitting further delays.

As we look ahead, we must prioritize the construction of safe streets, dismantling the old barriers and throwing out the old excuses. There is no other way to continue our progress in this New Year.

The lives of our friends, family and neighbors hang in the balance, and there is not a moment to waste.

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