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SFMTA Board approves location of 33 new speed cameras

The approved locations for 33 speed cameras in SF
The approved locations for 33 speed cameras in San Francisco

For years, San Francisco has been rolling out its “Vision Zero Quick-Build Program” — SFMTA’s attempt to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and reduce pedestrian deaths. But it’s been criticized for being not quick enough.

Last year, California passed AB-645, a pilot program that would allow Los Angeles, Oakland, San Jose, Glendale, Long Beach, and the city and county of San Francisco to establish a “speed safety system.”

So far, San Francisco is the furthest along in implementation of the program: on Tuesday the SFMTA Board approved the locations of 33 new “speed cameras” across the city.

“These cameras are not like other surveillance cameras in that they're not always monitoring. They must be triggered by the internal radar system in the camera. So we can't just peek in to see what's happening on a street if the radar system is not triggered.”

This is Shannon Hake, the speed safety camera program manager for SFMTA. She spoke to the Board about how the data will be used and other privacy concerns.

“We intend to keep this data internal to SFMTA and we do not plan to share it unless required by a court order. We worked with several advocacy organizations in drafting this policy, and some of the key feedback that we heard, uh, was that this data should not be shared with law enforcement agencies, particularly in a way that could harm undocumented San Franciscans.”

According to Hake, all 33 cameras are going to be placed in “high-injury network” areas, spread across all parts of the city. Drivers going 11 miles per hour over the speed limit are supposed to trigger their radar.

The SFMTA Board overwhelmingly supported the project.

California has passed a number of new measures aimed at preventing pedestrian deaths, from removing parking spots that obstruct drivers' views of intersections, to changing the infrastructure of roads and sidewalks.

That’s because, according to data from The Office of Traffic Safety, California has the most pedestrian deaths in the nation. The problem is particularly pronounced in the Bay Area: In the last decade, almost 300 pedestrians were killed in San Francisco.

But there are a few things that need to happen before the cameras are installed: Next, the Board of Supervisors has to approve the project, then a vendor who will build, own, and operate the technology needs to be selected.

The cameras are expected to be installed by early 2025.

You can check out the full presentation here.

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.