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

Scott Lucas | January 17, 2014 | Story

The New Year's Eve death of a six-year-old girl 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 Jane Kim's "Vision Zero" plan, introduced on Tuesday, which calls for cutting pedestrian deaths to zero by 2024. Separately, Mayor Ed Lee also introduced an awareness campaign and police announced 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, agreement between city officials seems to be 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 walkers.

In 2013, San Francisco suffered 20 pedestrian fatalities, the highest number since 2007. That puts our deaths 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 led 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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