San Francisco's streets are perilous ones for pedestrians, we all know that to be true. But a blog post by the head of San Francisco's transit agency warns that they are about to get even more dangerous, as he says the upcoming end of Daylight Saving Time is linked to a sharp increase in collisions.
According to a blog post by SFMTA Executive Director Ed Reiskin posted to the agency's "Moving SF" blog, the period when we switch from Daylight Saving to Standard Pacific Time is also "when collisions tend to spike as our bodies adjust to the new sleep patterns and people are out on the streets in the dark more often."
It's worth nothing here that San Jose Assemblyman Kansen Chu has repeatedly attempted to abolish DST for that (among other) reason, advocating that California adopt Standard Time year-round. His bill proposing that voters approve the change was killed in fall of 2016, most vocally opposed by SF Assembly member turned mayoral candidate Mark Leno, who said at the time that "there's some real unintended consequences" if CA voters agreed to pick one time and stick with it.
But it appears that Reiskin is suggesting that there are also unintended consequences if we keep on switching back and forth, as "historically" the weeks following the fall back are when vehicle collisions with pedestrians are most likely to occur.
"This is a good time to call on all of us to be even more aware and step up our safe driving skills," Reiskin writes, as "...traffic safety is a major problem in San Francisco."
Reiskin also says that the SFMTA is taking steps to protect pedestrians like "updated or new crosswalks, protected bikeways and traffic calming" as well as an ongoing campaign of "radio and digital media ads to raise awareness that speeding is a leading cause of death in San Francisco."
(Do you think a radio ad would have kept this driver from allegedly "flooring it" as the light changed while 90-year-old David Grinberg was still in the crosswalk at Baker and Fell, striking and killing him at the scene? What digital ad would have kept a still at-large driver from running down Gus Vardakastanis? I mean, you can't fault the SFMTA for trying, I guess, but it seems like all the "traffic calming" measures and ad campaigns in the world won't work if people insist on driving like jerks.)
So far, "fifteen people have died on our streets this year, just trying to make their way around town," Reiskin writes. 30 were killed in 2016, he says, and 31 died in 2015 and 2014.
This year, Daylight Saving ends at 2 a.m. on November 5. Will the subsequent weeks see Reiskin's predicted spike in traffic deaths, or will those digital and radio ads do the trick? Perhaps, Reiskin suggests, if we also "all remember to be alert." And the emphasis appears to be on all, he says, reiterating elsewhere in the post that "we must all do our part by making the streets safer" as "lives depend upon it."