San Mateo’s push for improved traffic safety and transparency has progressed since the start of the year, with the recent creation of an accident data map providing detailed traffic collision information the city will use to make improvements.
“This is an excellent example of how the city can marry our data and our policy initiatives and focus our resources in a way that will really make our streets safer through public education and police department’s enforcement efforts and Public Works engineering. This is really a culmination of a great collaboration, and I think really good policy at work,” Councilwoman Amourence Lee.
A traffic collision data map went live in January, enabling residents to see where and what type of collisions occurred in the city over the last three years. It provides information on DUI-related, hit-and-run, private property and injury collisions for residents to see when and where specific traffic incidents occur. The city has its own larger data set used internally and compared to previous outside information. The city began mapping collisions after November direction from City Council. The map will help provide context to residents about city and police decision-making regarding enforcement and traffic infrastructure improvements.
Councilwoman Diane Papan asked at the Tuesday study session if the city and police department will use the traffic data to identify trends and possible solutions to traffic issues.
In response, Bethany Lopez, a senior engineer with the city, said one of the main reasons the city wanted the larger data set was to identify more location-specific information and use it to identify enforcement, educational or physical engineering improvements for implementation.
“That is ultimately the goal,” Lopez said.
The data can also provide specific thresholds for how the city wants to define where it can make specific traffic improvements, something it wants to study further.
“I think all of the data is driving us towards how we prioritize and what those actual improvements are,” Lopez said.
The data map can also capture what neighborhood it took place in, the primary collision factor, date range and probable cause of the collision.
It is a work in progress and will be improved over the next year to map all collisions from 2017 to 2020, according to police Sgt. Craig Collom. The map went live Jan. 14 for 2019-2020 collision data and will have 2017-2018 data starting March 1. Pedestrian and bicyclist information will be added in the spring, age demographics in the summer and a citation map later in the year. People can find the collision data map at http://gis.cityofsanmateo.org/traffic or on the city or police website.
“We definitely want feedback if anybody finds any issues. We would definitely like to know it, and we will fix it,” Collom said.
Deputy Mayor Rick Bonilla said the data was a great safety improvement to provide residents with better information to make more environmentally friendly transit decisions.
“This is something that, for years, we’ve been looking at traffic safety in different neighborhoods and throughout the city as a whole, and one of the missing links has always been the data. So this is a great step forward. The public will really appreciate this. It will help all of us to understand,” Bonilla said.
The city is conducting public outreach on pedestrian safety through its Safe Streets San Mateo educational campaign via social media and other outreach methods, which it launched this year to improve pedestrian safety, a top priority for the city in 2021. The campaign asks pedestrians and drivers to be aware of each other and to share roads.
“I think it’s pretty amazing how much progress that we’ve made in just a couple of months in terms of just improving our overall transparency as a city and its various departments. I think it’s a great thing for not only the public and the neighborhoods but also reach individual departments,” Mayor Eric Rodriguez.
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