Street safety (or the lack of it) has recently been at the heart of San Francisco news. In a city that logs 20 percent of its daily transportation by foot, a fatal accident on Tuesday marked the 6th pedestrian death in less than a month, leading Mayor Ed Lee to bore down on pedestrian safety.

“I’ve got no less than three proposals on my desk right now that I’m reviewing this afternoon [Wednesday] with the police chief and the fire chief on culturally competent campaigns that we can do right now,” Lee said in an interview with KCBS on Wednesday.

Other safety-improving measures take much longer – like the two years of street improvements to Cesar Chavez that will finish in the upcoming weeks.  The Cesar Chavez Streetscape Project has added over 300 street trees, medians, widened sidewalks, pedestrian refuges, upgraded LED street lighting, permeable concrete, and 20 stormwater infrastructures to the seven-block stretch between Hampshire and Guerrero.

The construction aims to generally increase pedestrian and cyclist safety through traffic-calming measures (that’s important for the city’s goal of  increasing daily bike commutes to up to 10% of all transportation trips by 2018.). It also boosts the green infrastructure of the city on this previously highway-like stretch of endless concrete.

It turns out that making drivers slow down has less to do with the speed limit than the visual cues – things that convince a driver they’re on a residential street versus an extended 280 onramp – pedestrians beware.

Mission Local took a look at some of the science behind making a safer Cesar Chavez.

Block-by-block street additions can be viewed here.

Sources include: Cesar Chavez Streetscape Improvements Conceptual Plan, Urban Street Trees and SF Better Streets Plan.

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Courtney Quirin is a trained wildlife ecologist turned environmental journalist with a knack for photography and visual storytelling. Though her interests span many topics and disciplines, she's particularly keen on capturing multimedia stories pertaining to the global wildlife trade, human-wildlife relationships, food security, international development and the effects of global markets on local environments and cultural fabric. Courtney completed a MSc in Wildlife Management at the University of Otago, New Zealand, where she not only learned how to catch and tag fur seals (among many things) but also traveled to the highlands of Ethiopia to identify the nature and extent of farmer-primate conflict and its linkages to changes in political regime, land tenure, food security, and perceptions of risk. From New Zealand Courtney landed at The Ohio State University to investigate urban coyotes for her PhD, but just shy of 2 years deep into the degree, she realized that her true passions lie within investigative journalism. Since moving into the world of journalism, Courtney has been a contributor to Bay Nature Magazine, a ghostwriter for WildAid, and the science writer for While at Berkeley's J-School Courtney will focus on international environmental reporting through the lens of documentary filmmaking and TV.

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  1. Friends of the urban forrest give residents the choice of what tree they want. There were a ton of choices. I personally wanted a palm tree as I didn’t want the tree to block the sunlight from coming in the house. I think a lot of folks choose palm trees for this reason. The city probably chooses them because the are low maintenance. Obviously I’m guessing but it would be good to know who gets to choose the trees.

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  2. I wish the city would stop planting palm trees which do nothing to help fight green house gasses. There are so many trees to choose from yet they constantly plant these useless trees.

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