Pedestrian safety in San Francisco is a hot topic, and with good reason.
In 2013, 13 pedestrians were struck and killed on the streets of San Francisco; many others injured. In the first 6-1/2 weeks of 2014, 3 more fatalities have occurred, including one last night on Van Ness at Pacific Avenue.
Equally dangerous conditions exist in suburban areas, like El Camino Real in Atherton, Redwood City, San Carlos and elsewhere where fast-moving traffic doesn't expect pedestrians crossing the road.
As both an auto driver and a daily pedestrian I know how important increased awareness is, whether you live in San Francisco or elsewhere.
As a driver, I:
- don't run yellow lights - expect pedestrians and bicyclists to start to cross the second the light turns
- take extra care if vehicles in other lanes slow suddenly or are stopped - someone just might be crossing
- try to expect the unexpected
- realize some pedestrians and bicyclist wear dark clothing and are hard to spot especially on a dark, foggy or rainy evening
As a pedestrian, I make it a practice to:
- wear light colored and reflective clothing at dusk, dawn, and night
- carry a headlamp/flashlight at night - an additional way of helping me be seen more easily
- look over my shoulder to make certain cars making turns are aware of me as I cross the street
- try to make eye contact with drivers before I step out - necessary even if the driver has a stop sign. I might have the right of way, but I am the most vulnerable party!
Here's one last tip for bicyclists, and pedestrians alike -- acknowledge the driver who courteously gives the right of way (the law here in California) with a smile, a nod of the head, a wave. Reinforcing good behavior might just lead to more of it, making our streets safer for all.