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FHWA Home / Safety / Pedestrian & Bicycle / San Francisco PedSafe Phase II

San Francisco PedSafe Phase II

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6. Phase II Conclusions

6.1. Lessons Learned

6.1.1. Lessons Learned: Overall Project Success and Countermeasures

The project was successful in demonstrating the ability of a local government/university team to develop a data-based plan to improve pedestrian safety, focusing on higher-injury areas, and then to implement and evaluate this plan. The project catalyzed San Francisco’s consideration and use of a number of innovative, generally lower-cost countermeasures. It also provided an opportunity for the San Francisco team to learn more about best practices in pedestrian safety from FHWA and other grantees. There are numerous off-the-shelf materials and references that are directly useful (much of it FHWA-produced such as the Pedestrian Safety Campaign Planner, the Walkable Community brochure, and numerous research reports). The lessons from this project will prove very useful in numerous future projects, such as the San Francisco Better Streets Plan.

Because San Francisco had such a extensive pedestrian safety program even before PedSafe was initiated, there was limited room for the project to catalyze major citywide changes or to achieve high visibility, especially considering the project budget. For example, even before PedSafe, San Francisco assessed pedestrian injury “hot spots” and trends. Several San Francisco agencies devoted significant staff to pedestrian safety planning, engineering, education, and enforcement. Inter-agency and public advisory committees were formed outside of the project.

The federal funding (about $680,000 or $120,000 per year) was extremely helpful and appreciated. However, on a per-year or per-intersection basis it was fairly limited, even compared to some other funding sources used for pedestrian and traffic safety. San Francisco has a sales tax dedicated to transportation uses that alone provides roughly $840,000 annually for “pedestrian circulation and safety.” The separate “traffic calming” allocation from this sales tax is around $2 million annually. Typical State of California grants for design and construction of pedestrian improvements (e.g., for improvements within four blocks of a specific elementary school or rail transit station) often range from $300,000 to $800,000, with minimal requirements for data collection and evaluation.

The primary lessons learned from the project about countermeasures include the following:

6.1.2. Lessons Learned: Outreach

6.1.3. Lessons Learned: Implementation

6.1.4. Lessons Learned: Data Collection and Analysis

6.2. Comparison With Other Cities

Similar projects were carried out in the Las Vegas and Miami metropolitan areas. A preliminary final report was available for Miami, but not for Las Vegas as of publication time. The chief findings in Miami that related directly to the San Francisco experience include:

6.3. Next Steps and Further Research

The primary opportunity for additional research would be an evaluation of the actual pedestrian injury impacts of the countermeasures. This would require follow up observations 3-6 years after device installation. (Collision data are not even available in tabulated form in California for at least six months. In order to obtain a meaningful sample size, several years of post-installation data are needed.) SFMTA participated in a proposal by the San Francisco Injury Center to the federal Centers for Disease Control for funding to perform this analysis, but the application was turned down due to limited funding.

SFMTA is also interested in testing other promising devices, particularly the HAWK beacon system and/or stutter flash beacons. (The High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk system is dark until a pedestrian activates the push button. It then switches from flashing yellow to solid yellow, followed by solid red, then flashing red, allowing cross traffic to continue once the pedestrian has crossed.) The City Traffic Engineer has identified the value of converting Stop controls to traffic signals that would be subject to transit and pedestrian priority.

Some of the countermeasures could be refined. For example, red turn arrows could be added to pedestrian head start locations. The video detection logic could be adjusted to prevent vehicles encroaching on the crosswalk from triggering the signal extension.

The cost-effectiveness of innovative devices could be compared to that of more traditional traffic engineering improvements, such as improved roadway lighting and left turn signalization.

It would also be valuable to research how the findings from this study can be translated into citywide pedestrian plans. San Francisco is currently developing a Better Streets Plan, a combination of the planned Pedestrian Master Plan with a citywide streetscape plan. This may provide an opportunity to apply the findings of this project.

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Page last modified on February 1, 2013
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