Guidelines for Creating an Effective Vision Zero Action Plan

by Jenn Fox June 21, 2022 in Case Studies, News

Across the country, a growing number of communities are committing to Vision Zero – the goal of zero traffic deaths or severe injuries among all road users. Making progress toward this vital goal entails far more than setting a goal, of course; communities must recognize and commit to a fundamental shift in how they think about and act on roadway safety.

A Vision Zero Action Plan should identify priorities for roadway safety, as well as provide transparency and accountability for the public. While the goal is important, the process of developing the Plan is also critical, as it should align stakeholders – including agency staff and elected and community leaders, who should be deeply involved in the process and feel ownership over the Plan’s development and commitments.

Plans should center a Safe System approach and evolve beyond the traditional E’s of roadway safety (engineering, education, enforcement, etc.), including reducing the need for police-led traffic stops.

Vision Zero Action Plans should lay out actionable, measurable strategies, emphasizing design and policy solutions, including designing Complete Streets and lowering speeds for safety. Each strategy should identify the lead agency responsible, along with supporting/partner agencies, a projected timeline, and budget needs. Work on the Plan and its components should be underpinned by a process of continued community engagement and attention to equity (more described here).

And setting the goal of zero matters. While the goal of zero roadway fatalities and severe injuries among all road users is a bold and sometimes-daunting goal, setting that goal publicly is important to making real change. A bold goal demands bold action. And this starts with setting a clear, common goal to guide plans, policies and practices.

This guide by the Vision Zero Network, in partnership with Livable Streets Alliance and the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition, is designed to help communities develop Action Plans that are meaningful and action-driven, while also being responsive to the context and needs of the community.

The guide lays out two key areas for a strong Action Plan: Foundational Elements and Actionable Strategies, which are both underpinned by a process of continued Community Engagement and attention to prioritizing Equity. Model policies and examples from Vision Zero cities are included throughout, as well as how-tos for maintaining a focus on equity. (Note that this guide was published in 2017. More recent resources are linked here and elsewhere on the Vision Zero Network’s website.)

We recognize that each Vision Zero community is unique and needs will vary, though many strategies and approaches are fundamental to Vision Zero for communities of all sizes and types (rural, urban, suburban). These guidelines should help communities develop an effective road map for action and serve as a tool for measuring and assessing progress towards the bottom line goal of safety for all on our roads, sidewalks, and bikeways. Download a PDF.

If you or other key stakeholders in your community are new to Vision Zero, please view and share Where to Start on the Road to Vision Zero for responses to frequently asked questions and more about the foundational elements of Vision Zero.

Now is the time to help your community get serious about Vision Zero and, to bring in new resources for your work. Learn more about applying for Vision Zero funding from the federal Safe Streets and Roads for All grant program (deadline September 15, 2022).

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