From our Assemblymember

Pedestrian safety must be a priority

Anyone who’s crossed 19th Avenue knows how harrowing being a pedestrian can be in San Francisco. In fact, according to a study conducted by Transportation for America in 2011, more than half of the total traffic fatalities in San Francisco are pedestrian accidents — that’s four times the national average. That’s why pedestrian safety is a top priority of mine, and I’m proud to be working with Senator Leland Yee on the issue.

From 2003 to 2007 there were a total of 10 pedestrian deaths along 19th Avenue and another 5 along Van Ness Avenue. In response, Senator Yee introduced legislation in 2008 that would impose double fines for reckless driving on 19th (State Route 1),Van Ness Ave and Lombard St (U.S. Route 101). Since the law went into effect in 2009, there have been only two pedestrian fatalities on either corridor — down from 15 in the previous four years.

These double-fine zones have been an effective component in the robust approach taken to promote safety for pedestrians in our city. Unfortunately, the double-fine status is scheduled to expire in 2014. That is why I am co-sponsoring Senator Yee’s bill, SB 219, to permanently extend the double-fine zones along these two corridors.

In a busy, urban setting such as the one in which we live, it is crucial that we have laws and policies that protect pedestrians in our city. But when those laws are egregiously violated, we need to give law enforcement the proper tools to seek justice. I have also co-authored another measure this year, AB 184, that would extend the statute of limitations for hit-and-run incidents that result in death or serious injury to three years after the offense or one year after the suspect is identified, whichever one is later.

Perpetrators who flee the scene can simply run out the clock to avoid justice. Under current law, if a motorist is not identified within three years of the incident, he or she cannot be prosecuted. Hit-and-run offenses are difficult to prosecute. This bill would give law enforcement more time.

Pedestrian safety is at the heart of a safe and livable community and is a priority for my office. If you have any concerns, ideas, or questions, contact my office at 415-557-2312; e-mail me at [email protected].

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