2016 was a monumental year for Vision Zero across the United States.
The number of cities committing to Vision Zero more than doubled, and interest in adopting meaningful, action-driven policies for safe streets has spread from a few early-adopter, big, coastal cities to communities large and small across the country. As we roll into 2017 with a challenge that is as big as ever, it’s helpful to look back at the trends — both promising and troubling — that shaped Vision Zero progress in 2016.
Cross-departmental collaboration is one of the necessary elements for effective Vision Zero efforts. Traffic safety is not the purview of any single department, and Vision Zero projects often demand buy-in and leadership from multiple agencies within a city structure, including Transportation, Public Works, Police, and Public Health, among others. While it’s not glamorous or even visible to most of the public, one of the most important things a city can do is make sure its internal processes allow for – and even incentivize – strong cooperation between agencies to advance Vision Zero.
Looking at trends in the short term doesn’t always paint a complete picture. Nevertheless, we can’t help but be discouraged by the direction of traffic safety in the U.S. described in two recent reports — one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and another from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Both reports analyze recent data to answer a similar big picture question: When it comes to traffic safety, how are we doing? Unfortunately, the answer is “not good enough.”
We’re pleased to announce the launch of the Vision Zero Network Resource Library. The Library contains some of the best emerging practices and samples of Vision Zero legislation, case studies, implementation plans, studies, campaigns and more from cities in the U.S. and around the world.
One of the defining characteristics of Vision Zero is the fundamental focus on breaking down silos and uniting local stakeholders behind common goals. Cross-departmental collaboration isn’t simply advisable — its importance cannot be emphasized enough as a critical foundation to a successful Vision Zero commitment. Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and New York City have found ways to bridge unintentional but long-standing gaps between key local agencies and identified innovative means to build new organizational architecture to advance Vision Zero.
If 30,000 people were killed each year in the United States by a curable illness, we would call it a public health crisis. We would deploy resources, vaccines and interventions to address the spread and bring the death toll to the only acceptable level: zero. Yet, every year 30,000+ people are killed in preventable traffic collisions in this country. Vision Zero asks us to see those traffic deaths like polio or cholera: epidemics that, with an urgent health framing and public response, can be eradicated. In this case study we explore how San Francisco, New York City and Chicago are using the tools of public health — including epidemiology, research and a focus on the root causes of health inequities — to advance their Vision Zero efforts.
In many cities, thousands of taxi and for-hire drivers log millions of miles on our roadways each year. With the increasing number of on-demand car services, these drivers can play a key role in creating safe streets and advancing Vision Zero. In this case study, we explore gains in New York City. Read and download the full case study.
Last week, we were excited to join hundreds of Vision Zero leaders in New York City for the second annual Vision Zero Cities conference, hosted by Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets. It was a whirlwind two days full of inspiring presentations, a-ha moments, deepening discussions and sharing of successes from communities nationwide. It was difficult to distill, but we’ve identified 11 of the top take-aways from the jam-packed event.
American cities are adopting Vision Zero, drawn to its departure from traditional approaches to traffic safety. But what makes Vision Zero an innovative road safety policy with the potential to make our streets safe? In this case study — the first in a series — we identify the key elements that distinguish Vision Zero.
The headline was deeply disturbing — though not surprising: 87 Percent of Drivers Engage in Unsafe Behaviors Behind the Wheel. That was AAA’s top take-away from a 2015 poll of drivers conducted by its Foundation for Traffic Safety, released late last month. Unfortunately, the results showed a continuing trend: Motorists readily identify behaviors like speeding or distracted driving as unsafe but still do it themselves. The poll adds urgency to the growing Vision Zero movement, but it also reveals American drivers’ support for many of the strategies that cities are using to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries — and puts the spotlight on an important Vision Zero partner: the nation’s largest organization representing motorists.