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‘You joking?’: Pedestrians and drivers respond to argument that SF needs less traffic enforcement

In a city street scene, several people wait to cross while a blurred vehicle speeds past in the foreground, creating a dynamic contrast between motion and stillness.
Source: Tâm Vũ/The Standard

A recent opinion piece by Chris Tolles, arguing that more traffic enforcement isn’t needed in San Francisco, received dozens of comments from readers. Here, The Standard is publishing a selection of these responses received via email and Instagram, which have been edited for clarity and brevity. 

Watchful drivers are now the police

I disagree. Traffic is CRAZY. I see people running red lights and stop signs every day. I see near-crashes every day. Statistics may say all is well, but driving/walking/biking in San Francisco is not safe. It is only the extreme caution of those of us who are watching every driver, trying to guess what they will do next that is keeping the stats down. 

And someday, someone will guess wrong, and there will be a horrid accident. 

—Kathy Howard

Time for a reality check

I don’t know in which part of the city the author of this piece lives, but it must be some Pollyanna area of which I am unaware.

I live in Ingleside, where, over the years, I’ve seen Ocean Avenue and the other streets turn into a speedway that requires me to wait to cross the street because, inevitably, someone is going to speed through a red light only to be stopped by the red light on the next block in a vain attempt to gain a few seconds’ time.

I would prefer that I not need to wait to step off the curb simply because speeding and running red lights haven’t yet registered enough deaths for my neighborhood to become a “high-risk” area. 

This guy needs a reality check.

—Patrick Batt

Police do nothing

It’s very dangerous for pedestrians. I crossed a green light and a large scooter fully drove through a red light between cars, almost running me over. I got very scared. A police car was at the opposite side of the intersection, saw it and did absolutely nothing. Now I know why! It’s outrageous.


Anxiety on our streets

I largely agree with the article and I certainly agree that using humans to hand out tickets is a waste of money.  

But it’s hard to calculate the fear and anxiety of crossing streets when 90% of people are speeding. It has a palpable effect on people. For instance, are we safer because I won’t let my kids go outside because I’d be called reckless as a parent for not understanding the obvious, that the streets are dangerous? 

It’s telling that we don’t have more low-speed vehicles like other cities with larger elderly populations: People don’t feel safe on the streets unless they are in a tank. 

—Andrew Harding

Sketchy driving on the rise

Are you joking? I see far more sketchy driving, speeding, running red lights and stop signs, motorcycles speeding and cars doing doughnuts these days—literally every day.


Drivers and pedestrians both reckless

SF drivers know they won’t be ticketed so they run red lights and stop signs basically anywhere they are encouraged to slow down. I’ve also been in San Francisco for 30 years, mostly walking, but driving more lately.

Jaywalkers (though that term doesn’t actually exist in SF) walk wherever and whenever they please. This is a dangerous combination. Many drivers are also stupid and don’t pay attention. This is beyond out of control. Accidents and injuries will continue at an increasing rate.

—Jeff Gamble

Try taking a walk these days

The author of the article about the lack of police enforcement of traffic laws is obviously not a pedestrian. I am solely a walker and have to avoid my own street (Lincoln Way), which is a death trap—drivers use no signals, speed, do not yield, run lights and signs and turn right without stopping or looking. Likewise, everywhere I go. 

It is anarchy and incredibly dangerous. Don’t even get me started about giant electric bikes racing down the sidewalks. Take a walk to the intersection of 9th Avenue and Lincoln toward Golden Gate Park. The light-runners are legendary. 

—Linda Nelson

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