Elevating Equity in Vision Zero Communications: A New Report

by Leah Shahum | January 11, 2017 | in Case Studies, U.S. Vision Zero Cities

Vision Zero is, at its core, about equity. It is about setting and achieving the morally imperative goal of ensuring that everyone can move about their communities safely.

We’re pleased to share a new report onthe subject, which frames the communications-related opportunities and challenges for cities working to advance Vision Zero. We hope the recommendations will serve as a resource for leaders working toward Vision Zero, as well as a reminder that we must place equity front and center in our words and actions.

It is encouraging to see a growing number of mayors, police chiefs, transportation directors, community leaders and others embrace Vision Zero commitments across the country. Along with that, more of these leaders are recognizing and vowing to address the alarming equity disparities in so many transportation systems today. We know that, in too many of our cities, some communities suffer the results of traffic crashes more often and more severely than others. And we know that many neighborhoods have been woefully underserved by traffic safety investments. Across the nation, we see that it is too often children, seniors, people with disabilities, those in low-income communities, people of color, and those who walk and bicycle who are most negatively impacted by unsafe conditions on our streets, sidewalks, and bikeways.

For many, Vision Zero has served as an opportunity — for some, even, a wake-up call — to reverse these damaging trends. This can be seen as a positive step toward righting wrongs, and change can’t come soon enough. But, it is also the case that Vision Zero, implemented inappropriately or carelessly, can exacerbate existing inequities, particularly as they relate to traffic law enforcement. We have challenged ourselves and other Vision Zero leaders to think about the equity impacts of our work — whether directly intended or not — and take responsibility for being part of the solution, not a passive continuation of the problem.

Special thanks to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency for their leadership and their willingness to share this resource, and to our partner in this work, the Berkeley Media Studies Group. BMSG recently released a related report analyzing news media coverage of Vision Zero.

Updated 1/18: A companion report outlining New York City’s Vision Zero Communication Strategies is now available.

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