Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pedestrian safety and the UC study

From a Chronicle article (In S.F., pedestrian deaths shine light on street safetyabout pedestrian safety on city streets:

Collisions are especially a problem on the city's wide, fast streets such as Geary Boulevard and Van Ness Avenue, where cars often approach freeway speeds. The Police Department changed traffic collision database systems last year, allowing the department to get detailed statistics more quickly and work with public health epidemiologists to better understand when, how and why collisions are happening.

This the first mention I've seen of a "changed database" system, though change is surely needed in the wake of the UC report that the Chronicle---along with the Examiner, the Bay Guardian, and the SF Weekly---has studiously ignored for more than a year. As far as I can tell, only District 5 Diary has written about it here in the one-party city-state I call Progressive Land. Does working with "public health epidemiologists" mean that the SFPD is now checking SF General records to provide the public with an accurate count of accidents on city streets? That's not clear at all.

The UC study found that cycling accidents were under-reported because City Hall has been relying entirely on police reports and ignoring cycling accidents recorded at the city's primary trauma center, SF General Hospital.

And in a front-page story on an alleged "spike" in pedestrian fatalities, why the reference to Geary and Van Ness? As the city's Collision Report (page 21) tells us, most pedestrian accidents happen downtown, particularly in the Tenderloin, South of Market area.

We can always rely on the Bicycle Coalition to provide a distorted account of what's happening on city streets:

Last year saw a near-record number of fatalities of people biking and walking. In 2013, 21 pedestrians and four bicyclists were hit and killed by drivers. This is the highest number since 2007.

The coalition can get away with this because their True Believer membership won't bother to actually verify the "near-record" claim, which can be checked on page 19, where we learn that 21 pedestrian fatalities a year is a typical total.

But the thing to remember is that even these numbers are now questionable, since the UC study shows that city's methodology for counting all accidents is flawed.

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