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No Turn on Red: San Francisco Moves To Expand the Ban Citywide

Written by Bay City NewsPublished Sep. 26, 2023 • 7:35pm
Supervisor Dean Preston has introduced a resolution to ban right turns on red lights citywide.   | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

City leaders in San Francisco have been scrambling to come up with ways to improve pedestrian safety, especially after a 4-year-old child was killed in a crosswalk last month. 

Now Supervisor Dean Preston has introduced a resolution to ban right turns on red lights citywide.  

The resolution introduced at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting calls on the Municipal Transportation Agency to ban turns on red lights at all stoplight intersections.  

READ MORE: No More Right Turns on Red? Safety Advocate Pushes for San Francisco-Wide Ban

Once implemented, San Francisco would join New York City in barring the turns in an effort to increase safety and save lives.   

The ban has already been in effect in the city’s congested Tenderloin District since 2021.  

Preston shared statistics related to the changes in the Tenderloin, and they show some success.  

A 2021 San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency study showed that 92% of drivers in the Tenderloin heeded the “No Turn on Red” signs, leading to an 80% decrease in close calls with pedestrians and 70% decrease in vehicles blocking or encroaching crosswalks during red lights.  

Citywide, turn-on-red crashes make up 20% of pedestrian- and bicycle-related injury crashes. SFMTA's 2012 to 2015 numbers show that 40% of collisions happen when drivers fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.  

“With the successful [no-turn-on-red] implementation in the Tenderloin, and the tragic increase citywide in traffic fatalities, we should be expanding [no-turn-on-red] to every neighborhood,” Preston said in a release from his office. “We have the tools, and we should be using these tools in a coordinated way, with urgency, to ensure we are doing everything possible to prevent serious traffic injuries and fatalities.”

Whether residents will approve of the change remains to be seen, but a letter-writing campaign posted online has generated 4,599 statements of support for No Turn On Red citywide. The campaign can be found on the Action Network site and has a goal of 6,400 letters.

The MTA has 120 days to develop and propose a no-turn-on-red plan, including how to fund it, timelines and other concerns, then it will bring its report back to the Board of Supervisors. 

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