District Attorney George Gascón, Walk SF and SF Bicycle Coalition Call for Safer Streets this Holiday Season

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CONTACT: Stephanie Ong Stillman, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-1167 or (415) 740-5134
Omid Talai, DA Gascón’s Office, (415) 553-9272

San Francisco – District Attorney George Gascón, was joined by representatives from Walk San Francisco and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition to call for safer streets this holiday season. Over the last six months, the District Attorney’s Office has seen 4 cases involving pedestrian fatalities. In most of these cases, the accident could have been avoided with more vigilance.

“The District Attorney’s Office does not relish having to prosecute people for these incidents,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “We would all be better off if the accident never occurred. These deaths are tragic, tearing apart the victims’ families and haunting the lives of the accused. We can do better as a city to avoid these tragic consequences.”

As the holiday season approaches and San Francisco’s high traffic areas and shopping districts become more impacted, District Attorney George Gascón is asking the public to be aware of safety rules and to help prevent avoidable tragedies. “San Francisco is a destination place for holiday shoppers and we want to ensure our streets and sidewalks are safe for everyone,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “This holiday season, whether you’re a motorist, bicyclist or pedestrian, we encourage everyone to be alert, obey traffic laws, and be vigilant about your surroundings.”

According to data obtained from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, high shopping areas such as Union Square and the Market Street corridor are also the areas with the most pedestrian injuries. "The holiday season is a time of sharing, and that applies to our streets too,” says Elizabeth Stampe, Executive Director of Walk San Francisco. “As the days get shorter, drivers need to slow down and look out for folks on foot -- especially children, seniors, and people with disabilities. We're glad the District Attorney is committed to helping everyone walk freely and safely through our city's streets."

Among California cities, San Francisco has historically had the highest per capita vehicle-pedestrian injury collision rate. While pedestrian injuries & fatalities in San Francisco have declined over the last decade, it remains high. And while bicycling continues to boom, we can and should do better to make our streets even more welcoming for bicycling, particularly the growing number of families and seniors on bicycles.

“We encourage everyone to give the gift of respect this holiday season, as we do throughout the year,” says Kit Hodge, Deputy Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is thrilled to be giving the gifts of free adult bicycle safety courses, bike lights to keep riders visible to everyone, and youth bicycle safety classes in schools throughout the city during the holidays. We can all pitch in to ensure that every child and every senior can safely enjoy the holidays.”

The District Attorney is asking the public to respect pedestrians’ right-of-way and to avoid behaviors that could lead to accidents. Drivers should avoid speeding, cell phone use and obey traffic laws – and pay special attention at intersections and when making turns. Bicyclists are encouraged to ride responsibility, predictably and obey the rules of the road. Pedestrians are encouraged to be mindful of their surroundings, to limit texting while walking or crossing the street, and to cross streets at intersections and designated areas.

For information on pedestrian safety: http://www.walksf.org. For information on bicycle safety: http://www.sfbike.org/edu.