Moving from Vision to Action: What Will it Take to Reach Vision Zero?

by Leah Shahum February 1, 2017 in Case Studies, U.S. Vision Zero Cities

A New Resource from the Vision Zero Network

Vision Zero. The words are intriguing…captivating even. The bold concept appeals to many people. After all, who would be against the goal of reducing the number of needless traffic deaths to zero? And, the urgency is unambiguous, given that more than 35,000 people were killed (and millions more injured) in traffic crashes in the U.S. last year alone.

Yet, words and good intentions will not be enough to ensure that Vision Zero succeeds. So, what will be?
This is the question being asked by an ever-increasing number of people across our country. Today, mayors, police chiefs, transportation and public health professionals, community leaders, loved ones of victims, and many more people are stepping up to declare that “enough is enough” of the preventable tragedies on our roadways. More than 20 U.S. cities have committed to the goal of Vision Zero – eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users – in the past three years alone. This is a significant step in the right direction.

Moving from Vision to Action

Now, it is critical that we support these forward-looking communities and their leaders in transforming a shared vision into action and results that will save lives.

The Vision Zero Network has developed a new resource to assist policymakers, community members, professionals and others in setting and reaching their Vision Zero goals. We are pleased to share this document: Moving from Vision to Action: Fundamental Principles, Policies & Practices to Advance Vision Zero in the U.S.

This document lays out the fundamental principles of Vision Zero, as well as the key policies and practices most relevant in the U.S. context. We recognize that it is appealing to support Vision Zero in principle. It is far more challenging – and worthwhile – to take the bold steps necessary to implement it effectively.

Vision Zero is a fundamental shift in philosophy toward safety on our streets, sidewalks, and bikeways. When done well, Vision Zero can galvanize a thorough and lasting shift in how we design and use our transportation systems in order to prioritize the preservation and quality of human life. But if not done well, Vision Zero runs the risk of becoming a short-lived trend or a watered-down slogan that provides only lip service toward real, life-saving change.

While we take inspiration from other nations that have succeeded in significantly reducing traffic fatality rates while moving more people, we also recognize that our approach in the U.S. will, at times, need to be different. We are defining a uniquely American version of Vision Zero that fits our cultural, legal, political, and historical contexts. While we adapt this powerful idea to U.S. communities, it is critical that our efforts embrace the fundamental principles of Vision Zero and not shy away from the core activities that will advance safe mobility for all.

This work will be neither easy nor quick. But ask any of the loved ones of those lost in traffic crashes whether it will be worthwhile, and the answer is undeniable.

Read the full report.

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