SFFD Releases Tone-Deaf Pedestrian PSA on Walk to Work Day

The tweet spouts scary statistics about the dangers of distracted walking — but the data's sources are missing.

Despite the cool, grey weather, thousands took to the streets Thursday for San Francisco’s annual Walk to Work Day. Volunteers set up “hubs” to hand out coffee, treats, and stickers, and awards were given for the longest commute (7.4 miles from 42nd Avenue to Front and Vallejo streets). As always, it was an optimistic event that prioritized fun first, and pedestrian safety issues second. 

But someone didn’t get the memo that the annual event is about inspiring pedestrians and supporting their rights for a safe commute to work, not pre-judging them for their behavior. The San Francisco Fire Department sent out this tone-deaf tweet this morning:

Inappropriate timing aside, the image’s startling statistics come without a source. Twitter users hopped on it (as did this reporter), but the only thing anyone could find was this “educational” poster being sold on a K12 website. 

Casey Hildreth put it perfectly on his personal Twitter account. “This is stupid and awful and should be taken down,” he wrote. “Leave the transportation safety messages to @sfmta_muni please.”

It’s a small thing, really, a tasteless tweet. But when you have 12,900 Twitter followers and run a government organization in a city that really needs to readdress its transit priorities, it’s irresponsible to cite unsubstantiated inflammatory statistics — particularly on a day celebrating alternative forms of transportation. The last thing pedestrians in San Francisco want to feel is more fear.

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