San Francisco: Vision Zero for Traffic Safety


By prioritizing safety for road users, San Francisco has a radical vision to improve the quality of life in the city.


San Francisco is a city that moves. However, in 2013, a near-record 21 pedestrians and 4 bicyclists were killed in traffic collisions – the highest number since 2007 – while other fatal collisions exceeded 12. Safety is a serious concern for everyone as they walk, bicycle, take transit and drive throughout the city.

In early 2014, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), San Francisco Department of Public Health, and the City’s leadership, adopted Vision Zero, which tasks the City to eliminate all traffic-related deaths by 2024.

First developed in Sweden, Vision Zero is guided by the principle that no mobility-related loss of life is acceptable.

With this challenge, SFMTA and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) are seeking engineering innovations to enhance the 5 E’s the City has defined to deliver Vision Zero – Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement, and Evaluation.

The City is currently incorporating treatments that focus on engineering improvements such as selected corridor planning/design, pedestrian detection systems, curb extensions and signal re-timing. They are looking for solutions that involve lighting and/or technology, such as smart poles – combinations of lighting, traffic signaling, and safety displays that sense traffic and alert police of incidents.  A solution that could answer multiple E’s would be invaluable; for example, a mechanism to collect data for evaluation for a solution that primarily addresses engineering, education or enforcement.

Fatality rates in Vision Zero states have fallen over 25% faster than in the nation since 1997. SFPUC and SFMTA are committed to ensuring that this life-saving goal becomes a reality in San Francisco.

SFPUC street light design criteria and requirements:  http://sfwater.org/index.aspx?page=714

For more information on the current list of engineering treatments: http://sfmta.com/projects-planning/projects/vision-zero