Over the past five years, the 13th and Mission Street intersection has seen more collisions than any other in San Francisco. Image from Google Earth.

Over the past five years, almost 2,000 vehicle collisions were reported in the Mission, according to TransBASE data. This is probably a significant underestimate of total crashes, as the data only includes collisions reported to police, but it can still show us patterns in where crashes are happening.

Around three-quarters of collisions in the Mission happened at intersections, and the most dangerous were clustered at the northern end of the neighborhood.

The intersection at 13th and Mission streets has seen 33 crashes since 2017, meaning it had more collisions than any other intersection in the city. And intersections in the Mission do appear to be slightly more dangerous than the city as a whole. Citywide, intersections in the TransBASE dataset had around 3.5 collisions each in the past five years, while those in the Mission had 4.9.

Scroll down to see the ten intersections in the Mission with the most collisions, and to explore the kinds of crashes that happened there.

Over the last five years, there were almost

2,000 reported collisions across the Mission.

These intersections saw the highest number of collisions.

13th St. and S Van Ness Ave.

13th St. and Mission St.

Howard St.

Otis St.

13th St.

Duboce Ave.

13th St.

Mission St.

S Van Ness Ave.

20

5

8

0

20

3

2

0

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

16th St. and S Van Ness Ave.

16th St. and Potrero Ave.

S Van Ness Ave.

Potrero Ave.

16th St.

16th St.

Franklin

Square

Gas

station

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

13

5

3

1

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

13

8

2

0

12th St. and Van Ness Ave.

Market St. and Guerrero St.

Laguna St.

12th St.

Mission St.

Hermann St.

Otis St.

Market St.

Van Ness Ave.

Guerrero St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

16

1

2

1

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

11

5

4

0

Market St. and Octavia Blvd.

16th St. and Guerrero St.

Octavia Blvd.

Guerrero St.

Valencia St.

16th St.

Market St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

16

2

1

1

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

10

0

9

1

Market St. and Van Ness Ave.

14th St. and Valencia St.

Van Ness Ave.

Valencia St.

Oak St.

11th St.

14th St.

Market St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

7

1

9

2

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

8

5

3

2

= position of intersection in Mission

Over the last five years, there

were almost 2,000 reported

collisions across the Mission.

These intersections saw most collisions.

13th St. and Mission St.

Otis St.

13th St.

Duboce Ave.

Mission St.

20

5

8

0

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

13th St. and S Van Ness Ave.

Howard St.

13th St.

S Van Ness Ave.

20

3

2

0

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

16th St. and Potrero Ave.

Potrero Ave.

16th St.

Franklin

Square

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

13

8

2

0

16th St. and S Van Ness Ave.

S Van Ness Ave.

16th St.

Gas

station

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

13

5

3

1

Market St. and Guerrero St.

Laguna St.

Hermann St.

Market St.

Guerrero St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

16

1

2

1

12th St. and Van Ness Ave.

12th St.

Mission St.

Otis St.

Van Ness Ave.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

11

5

4

0

16th St. and Guerrero St.

Guerrero St.

16th St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

16

2

1

1

Market St. and Octavia Blvd.

Octavia Blvd.

Valencia St.

Market St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

10

0

9

1

14th St. and Valencia St.

Valencia St.

14th St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

7

1

9

2

Market St. and Van Ness Ave.

Van Ness Ave.

Oak St.

11th St.

Market St.

Vehicle-to-vehicle:

Vehicle-to-pedestrian:

Vehicle-to-bike:

Other:

8

5

3

2

position of

intersection

in Mission

=

Data from TransBASE. Based on crashes in the Mission between 2017 and 2021. Boundaries of the Mission and definition of an intersection crash from TransBASE and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

About 56 percent of Mission crashes were purely between motor vehicles, typically passenger cars. Around 21 percent involved motor vehicles and pedestrians, while 20 percent involved motor vehicles and bicycles.

Although collisions between cars are the most common, they are not necessarily the most harmful. In the Mission, a much larger proportion of car-to-pedestrian collisions resulted in severe injury or death than other types of crashes.

Collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians led

to severe injuries more often than other types of crash.

Fatal injury

Severe injury

Other visible injury

Complaint of pain

Vehicle-to-bike

Vehicle-to-vehicle

Vehicle-to-pedestrian

Collisions between motor vehicles

and pedestrians led to severe injuries

more often than other types of crash.

Severe injury

Fatal injury

Other visible injury

Complaint of pain

Vehicle-to-vehicle

Vehicle-to-pedestrian

Vehicle-to-bike

Data from TransBASE. Based on crashes in the Mission between 2017 and 2021.

“I would prioritize improving intersections with lots of pedestrians and bicyclists involved in crashes, rather than cars as much,” said Marta Lindsey, communication director for Walk SF. “Because they are at more risk in a crash.”

Lindsey said that the city has been using the extensive data gathered on crashes to hone in on spots where collisions and injuries are more likely, and focus resources there. Particularly effective improvements include lane reductions, barriers to slow down left turns, and preventing corner parking, she said.

Since the city signed up to Vision Zero in 2014, pledging to aim for zero traffic deaths within a decade, a range of changes have been made to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety in the city. But advocates have sometimes criticized the pace of change, and traffic fatalities have not dropped significantly in the city since the scheme began.

Since 2014, traffic deaths have not

fallen significantly in San Francisco.

Traffic deaths

35

Since 2014, 20 people

have died in traffic

crashes in District 9

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Since 2014, traffic

deaths have not fallen

significantly in the city.

2014

2015

2016

Since 2014, 20 people

have died in traffic

crashes in District 9

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

35

20

25

30

0

5

10

15

Traffic deaths

Data from San Francisco Vision Zero.

Stephen Chun, spokesperson for the Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), outlined a swath of street improvements that have been made and are planned in the Mission.

For example, building work is scheduled to start next month on 16th Street, which saw more than 250 police-reported collisions over the past five years. The $67 million scheme involves adding transit-only lanes and new traffic signals. Planning for the project began in early 2015.

South Van Ness Avenue, another road with high numbers of collisions, has recently been overhauled. As part of the SFMTA’s Quick-Build initiative, which aims to speed up the addition of road safety measures, the road was altered with a lane reduction (from four to three) and separate lanes for left turns, among other changes.

Chun wrote over email that the city’s strategy for improving safety is at the level of corridors, rather than intersections, but that several Mission arterial roads, including 16th Street, Guerrero Street, and 13th Street, are being prioritized because of the injuries that occur on them.

This has meant many dangerous intersections are getting attention. For instance, the city increased the timing of pedestrian crossings at 13th and Mission streets in 2019, and this intersection will be part of the upcoming 13th Street Safety Project. At 16th Street and South Van Ness Avenue, the city barred parking at the corners, installed continental crosswalks, and increased pedestrian crossing times.

As well as changing infrastructure, “slowing vehicle speeds is essential to protecting against collisions,” Chun wrote. “Under new legislation, San Francisco is moving to reduce speed limits on key commercial corridors, like Valencia Street, and these efforts will continue to scale up.”

It is hard to tell exactly how effective many of these interventions have been, in part because many of them are still in their evaluation stages (which last two years after building is completed). But the Mission has followed the city’s trend in seeing little change in severe or fatal injuries in recent years.

As San Francisco’s self-imposed 2024 deadline — to have zero traffic deaths throughout the city — rapidly approaches, SFMTA is seeking more money for street safety in the near future. A $400 million measure, with $110 million earmarked for street improvements, will be on the June 7 ballot. It needs a two-thirds majority to pass.

“They are putting their attention in the right places,” said Lindsey. “It’s just taking a little longer than we had hoped.”

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DATA REPORTER. Will was born in the UK and studied English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism in New York. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

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8 Comments

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  1. I agree that San Francisco has a lack of traffic enforcement all over the City. The main point is that if you hit a pedestrian while travelling in your auto at a speed greater that 25mph, the person will be dead. Drivers need to learn to be more sedate unless you are on a road that is meant for speeds greater than 25mph and most are not. I also don’t understand why the use of speed humps are not more widely used. They certainly slow one down.

  2. Drivers have gotten worse with introduction of smart phones.
    When ever I notice some of the drivers doing strange things, I often find them looking down at their phones while their vehicle is moving forward.
    At all those intersections I’ve not had much issues as a person bicycling, or driving a car. That’s because I don’t use phones to navigate or worse text and do social media.
    The police in SF could and should be issueing tickets to those people that fails to use turn signals, or that are down at their phone. See what happens when those 2 things get enforced properly.

  3. The risks in San Francisco are not so much corridor based but site specific. There are well known intersections that are engineered as dangerous conditions for cyclists. South Van Ness, Howard and 13th Street is one example.

    Instead of focusing on whole corridors, or boutique play streets in the park, or relatively safer lower Valencia, we should acknowledge that SFMTA is capacity challenged and triage its work from most dangerous and easily fixable up to less urgent corridor treatments.

    One problem is that newcomer urbanists fear cycling on city streets without the “concrete training wheels” of separated lanes.

    1. I’m not sure that separate bike lanes are “training wheels”- I’ve been riding in the city since 90’s and appreciate the expansion of the bike lane network. In retrospect the whole bike road-warrior/survival of the fittest stance seems like Stockholm Syndrome.

  4. We’d likely cut crashes and injuries down to a small fraction of where they are now if we actually enforced the traffic laws against all users of our roads. We have essentially no traffic law enforcement – SFPD doesn’t believe in routine enforcement, they’ve said – and every day I witness countless violations – running red lights, rampant crosswalk violations, bicycles and scooters on sidewalks, etc.

    Routine enforcement would probably be revenue-neutral or might even make money, and would go a long way toward reducing the chaos and creating an environment where drivers, cyclists and pedestrians knew and respected the rules, which would result in much safer streets for all. I can’t figure out why we are so unwilling to enforce the law in SF.

    1. Driving in S.F. has become a blood sport. There are rampant violations everywhere. I’m no shrinking violet, I drove a taxi for years, but you really need to be hyper vigilant and aware of your surroundings these days. I sometimes wonder if they issue the paper coffee cups at the police academy because I see more cops around Starbucks than on the streets.

  5. As a cyclist, I’ll be interested in seeing what they propose for the 13th and Mission intersection. It’s truly terrible, and while I make a point of avoiding it there are occasions when passing though is unavoidable (Discount Builder!). The freeway off ramp puts it over the edge in terms of merging traffic lanes and speed differences- it’s all very unpredictable and confusing to be on foot or bike there. The number of bike incidents at the intersection is extra shocking given that it is not on any of the bike routes and I suspect local riders largely steer clear of it.