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FHWA Home / Safety / Vision Zero in San Francisco

Vision Zero in San Francisco

FHWA-SA-19-009

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Image from Vision Zero San Francisco homepage shows vehicles on a road while people cross at a crosswalk.

An image from the Vision Zero SF homepage of a busy, multi-modal San Francisco street.

Problem

In 2017 and 2018, San Francisco saw historic lows in traffic-related deaths on its streets. However, every year in San Francisco, approximately 30 people lose their lives and more than 500 are severely injured while traveling on city streets. San Francisco has resolved that even one death is unacceptable, and is committed to stopping further loss of life.

Solutions

The city adopted Vision Zero in 2014 to set an ambitious strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and reduce severe injuries in San Francisco. Vision Zero reflects the city's commitment to building better and safer streets, educating the public on traffic safety, increasing enforcement of traffic laws, and adopting policy changes that save lives.

More than a dozen city agencies have signed resolutions in support of the city's Vision Zero policy, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH), the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), and the San Francisco Department of Public Works (SFDPW).

SFMTA and SFDPH co-chair the Mayor's Vision Zero Task Force. The Task Force includes city agencies, community members, and community organizations, which meet quarterly to advance projects, programs, and policy changes for Vision Zero.

City agencies report quarterly to the San Francisco County Transportation Authority's (SFCTA) Vision Zero Committee. Through this Committee, the agencies report on progress and updates related to Vision Zero and identify policies that can advance the Vision Zero goal. The Vision Zero Coalition, a community-based coalition comprised of more than 30 organizations and led by Walk SF, regularly engages with both the Task Force and city agencies to advance Vision Zero and hold the city accountable.

Interagency coordination is a key component of San Francisco's Vision Zero goal. The inclusion of SFDPH is particularly notable because it reflects the city's view that traffic injuries and fatalities are a public health crisis. For example, the SFDPH staff working on Vision Zero includes a dedicated epidemiologist whose responsibilities include coordinating and analyzing data in collaboration with Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG) trauma surgeons, staff, and the SFPD.

Vision Zero recognizes that reducing traffic fatalities on San Francisco city streets can only occur through a safe systems approach that better incorporates safety and livability into its streets. The goal of the safe systems approach is to design a more forgiving road system that takes human fallibility and vulnerability into account. Guided by the safe systems concept, designers develop a comprehensive transportation system in which, when one part fails, other parts can protect people from death and serious injury. To support this approach, San Francisco's Vision Zero policy focuses on safe streets, safe people, and safe vehicles. Highlights of recent progress in each of these areas are included below.

Safe Streets

Safe People

Safe Vehicles

Data Initiatives

Collecting data and tracking performance are critical to the success of San Francisco's Vision Zero program. The following list describes San Francisco's data initiatives:

Early Successes

The city's 2017-2018 Action Strategy includes annual metrics for tracking progress against Vision Zero and conducts evaluations on key individual projects. In 2018:

Page last modified on September 24, 2019
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000