San Francisco Injury Attorney Predicts Fewer Injury Accidents on San Francisco's Streets

September 25, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Apropos my last blog, there are two other projects underway in the City of San Francisco that focus on the safety and well-being of both its residents and visitors. One project, adopted by the Board of Supervisors on February 6, 2006 and appropriately called Better Streets, is a joint effort by several city agencies to improve the design of San Francisco's streets and sidewalks and was. Since that time, Better Streets has created a collection of street types which are a great improvement over our current automobile-centered street scheme and focus on the appropriate use of land (i.e. residential, commercial and industrial), the efficiency of street width and the street's role in the transportation system. The highlights and benefits that stand out most to us here at the Brod Law Firm are the ones that focus on safety, though there are many others--such as its support of neighborliness, civic interaction , community identity, and the enhancement of the quality of life for San Francisco’s residents and local businesses—and they are:
• The Design of sidewalks and medians, pedestrian safety and accessibility features, ways to mange storm water in the right-of –way, design and placement of streetscape elements such as street trees, lighting ,benches, and more
• Decreased likelihood of pedestrian/auto collisions injuries and fatalities
• Increased accessibility for all street users, create settings that make it safe and easy to be physically active and enhance the everyday quality of life for San Francisco Residents.
• Increased Space for public life, including safe useable public seating for neighborhood gathering, generous curb extensions for seating and landscaping , reclaiming of excess street space for public use, space for outdoor café and restaurant seating and merchant displays.
• The Integration of pedestrians with transit and available transit rider amenities at key stops.
• Safe convenient pedestrian routes to transit mutual features that benefit pedestrian safety and comfort and transit operations such as bus bulb outs and boarding islands.
• The promotion of public safety, an ‘eyes on the street ‘ approach that will enhance residents sense of safety and security from crime and violence.

The other project called the Valencia Streetscape Improvements Project spans from 15th Street to 19th Street and is intended to provide a safer, more inviting environment for its users. Back in 2004, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) secured an Environmental Justice Grant from Caltrans to develop a Pedestrian Safety Plan for Valencia Street. The MTA held four meeting in 2004-2005 in the community, whereby the community expressed a strong desire to widen the sidewalks along Valencia Street and improve the streetscape. Then in spring 2006, MTA Planning and the Department of Public Work’s (CPW) Great Streets Program teamed up to create a collaborative vision for all users of Valencia Street. Eventually the project secured funding through a multi-year federal transportation bill, two federal Transportation for Livable Communities (TLC) grants and local support. Last month the project began and will move block by block over the next nine months, during which time the Department of Public Works crews will: remove the striped center median, widen the sidewalk, add bulb-outs at some intersections and in the middle of some blocks, and add pedestrian scale lighting, art elements, bike racks (assuming the injunction mentioned in my last blog is lifted), and new street trees, widen Parking lanes to prevent dooring of bicyclists, and add curbside loading zones for trucks.
As we move into the future, a future concerned with global and environmental issues, we consider all these changes to our city’s streets—especially those concerned with safety-- critical not only for our city but for the all communities everywhere that want to create sustainable living environments . By redesigning our city around public transportation and creating walkable and bikeable streets, we can change our city into a safe, healthy, livable and affordable one, thereby providing an example to other cities here and around the globe interested in doing the same.

The Seemingly Endless Conversation on the Need for San Francisco Street Safety and Improvements

September 21, 2009 by Gregory J. Brod

Recently, friends from Europe stayed with me and my family. During their time here they spent their days touring San Francisco by bicycle. I asked them if they felt San Francisco was as bike friendly city as most European cities. They said that they felt drivers were really aware of bicyclists and looked out for them. But they felt that bus drivers were not very considerate, if not hostile, toward bicyclists. I explained how cyclists have fought hard, with the help of the San Francisco Bike Coalition (SFBC), educating motorists as well as buses on being both cautious and vigilant as they share the road with cyclists. At the same time, I also explained how some bicyclists seem to have less interest in following the vehicle rules of the road and believe that red lights and stop signs are meant only for motorists. My friends agreed with me when I pointed out that there is a victim attitude among some bicyclists who feel --because buses are bigger, and can kill bicyclist, and most streets are not designed for bikes-- that they are at a disadvantage on the road and should make their own rules. Bus drivers who encounter bicyclists with the victim attitude usually end up developing the same victim mentality and, as a consequence, ignore the safety of all cyclists. One might think there may never be a middle ground for bus drivers and bicyclists. Every story has at least two sides, though. The bottom line is this: If either bicyclists or bus drivers make their own rules on the road, that can, and usually does, lead to dangerous situations. But buses and bicyclists can coexist as long as bus drivers and motorists act professionally and bicyclists follow the rules of the road. Each year there are more bicyclists on the road, and everyone on the roads would follow the laws of the road, as well as use a little courtesy, our streets will be far less dangerous.
Since cyclists will be increasingly populating the roads and asking for more space in the years to come, we need, now, more than ever, the creation education campaigns that foster safety and respect among cyclists as well as bike network improvement projects that keep our city streets a safe place for all. There is good news. The SFBC has spent years planning and appearing at public hearings in an effort to get the city to implement improvements for cyclists and motorists on the road called the SF Bike Plan. This summer, 3 years after a lawsuit and injunction that barred any improvements and the city’s Bike Plan, the SFBC is celebrating their biggest victory: on June 26th, 2009 the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency voted to adopt their bicycle plan. Once the injunction is lifted, the vote gives a green light for 45 new bike lanes throughout the city. The plan also includes the implementation of on-street bike parking corrals, experimental colored pavement treatments and thousands of new bike racks. Another bit a good news for the SFBC is Mayor Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement that he will implementing a package of trial improvements to market street beginning September 29th, modeled on Projects for Public Spaces –which is in partnership San Francisco Great Streets Project and SFBC. As we collectively move forward during these planned changes, go safely and considerately out there, people!