Pedestrian Night + Safety

The South of Market is a neighborhood full of children and seniors, but to many it is the thoroughfare to the freeway. For this reason, many cars zip through the streets, not seeing the density of families accessing their neighborhood services and homes. SoMa streets are also among the longest in the City, leaving few safe crossings for pedestrians.

SOMCAN has organized neighbors and community partners, and worked wit the City to improve pedestrian safety in key corridors by:

  • increasing signage, including school signs,

  • changing streets to one-way,

  • advanced signals for pedestrian crossings,

  • mid-block crossings. 


Right of Passage: YOHANA's Pedestrian Safety Campaign

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For the past year, SOMCAN’s Youth Organizing for Home and Neighborhood Action (YOHANA) has been leading a campaign around pedestrian and night safety, in response to young people and families feeling unsafe while walking around in their own neighborhood.

Through meetings and interviews held with various community stakeholders, YOHANA determined that many SOMA residents and workers feel that their neighborhood streets are designed moreso for vehicles and bikers than for pedestrians. Additionally, street lights during nighttime are too dim, especially for workers coming home late. Since then, YOHANA has adopted the issue and presented their findings to key agencies, including the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, with recommendations for how to redesign the streets to be safer and friendlier for SOMA children, youth, families, seniors, and people with disabilities.

On April 23, 2018, YOHANA presented their Pedestrian and Night Safety Campaign to the Housing Environment, and City Services (HECS) committee of the Youth Commission. At this meeting, YOHANA gained full support from the committee. HECS adopted the campaign into their 2018–19 Budget and Policy Priorities and passed YOHANA’s presentation along to be heard at the following full Youth Commission hearing on May 7, 2018, where they gained unanimous support from all the commissioners. Not long after, the Youth Commission was contacted by Supervisor Norman Yee’s office. Yee’s office fully supported the Youth Commission’s pedestrian safety priority. He invited the commissioners and YOHANA to turn out at a Board of Supervisors committee hearing regarding updates on Vision Zero– the City and County of San Francisco’s commitment to reaching zero pedestrian fatalities by 2024. Youth Commissioners presented on May 25, 2018 to the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee with the following recommendations:

  1. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and PG&E commit to replacing LED lights at 50% done or more. Since 2015, only around 1% of street lights in SF have been updated to LED. 

  2. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and PG&E commit to incorporating light fixtures designed specifically for pedestrians. Currently, most light fixtures are meant for passing cars; having LED lighting won’t be bright enough if they are too high up. 

  3. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and PG&E commit to monthly maintenance of light fixtures. Low lighting and/or broken fixtures can cause numerous safety issues.

  4. The San Francisco Planning Department, Public Works, and Municipal Transportation Agency commit to increasing the size of sidewalks. Due to high-density and overcrowding, SOMA blocks are barely enough room for two people to walk side-by-side, particularly in residential areas. 

  5. The San Francisco Planning Department, Public Works, and Municipal Transportation Agency commit to adding more mid-block crossings and increasing crossing times for pedestrians. This could slow down speeding cars, as well as allow more time for children, seniors, and people with disabilities to get safely across. 

  6. The Board of Supervisors hold a hearing on the impacts of pedestrian and night safety in San Francisco, focusing on areas most impacted by fatalities, stalking, and loitering. YOHANA thanks Supervisor Norman Yee for introducing File No. 180401 [Hearing – Senior Pedestrian Injuries and Fatalities, and Targeted Implementation of Vision Zero Improvements].

District 6 Youth Commissioner Mary Claire Amable and YOHANA representative Ramon Bonifacio attended a Board of Supervisors Public Safety and Neighborhood Services committee hearing on July 25, 2018. Supervisor Yee called for this item to be heard, citing two unfortunate incidents of senior fatalities in his district in early April. Since then, eight more fatalities have occured citywide; two of the victims were seniors. Various city agencies were present for this item, among them the Department of Public Health, the Police Department, the Municipal Transportation Agency, and the District Attorney’s Office. Each department updated the public on what proactive steps they have been taking to ensure the realization of Vision Zero. Amable and Bonifacio made public comments in support of Supervisor Yee’s leadership around the issue, and conveyed to the Supervisors how critical pedestrian and night safety are to the SOMA community.