Managing speeds is a critical – if not the critical – strategy to advance Vision Zero. Recognizing this, communities are looking for ways to more rapidly pilot and implement effective actions to reduce speeds. And, fortunately, funding – including from the new federal Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant program – is increasingly available to speed up local and regional efforts to slow down dangerous driving.
In our October 24th webinar, we talked with Vision Zero practitioners about how they’re prioritizing speed management in their everyday roadway safety work, including using safety analytics tools to prioritize top needs, test solutions and build support for change.
Watch the recording of our one-hour discussion with our panelists Virginia Lynn, Staff Analyst at Houston Public Works, Multimodal Safety & Design Branch; Sean Stephens, Project Manager at the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Mobility and Infrastructure; and Nat Gale, Head of Product for Safety View at INRIX and who has led several cities’ Vision Zero programs.
As those working on roadway safety efforts likely know, recognizing the importance of speed management does not always translate to an easy path to actually implementing the speed reduction strategies that are proven to work. There is often public – and related political – pushback to changes such as lowering speed limits, redesigning roadways to encourage safer speeds and using in-vehicle and other technology.
Both Houston and Pittsburgh see the benefits of using safety analytics to help their Vision Zero teams pinpoint the most optimal areas for safety projects, including quick-builds, and assess projects’ effectiveness in reducing dangerous speeds and severe crashes.
It’s clear that there is no one perfect, single way to solve the “speed” problem, so panelists talked about a myriad of tools they’re using, including lowering speed limits and instituting traffic calming measures, such as speed cushions, mini roundabouts, curb extensions, chicanes and diagonal diverters – many of which can be installed as quick-builds (read more about what the Federal Highway Safety Administration calls Proven Safety Countermeasures).
While these are not brand new ideas in many communities, they are gaining more acceptance, as there’s more recognition that slowing speedy drivers is key. And using data insights to guide a speed management program, (whether it’s explicitly called out or simply integrated into ongoing roadway safety work), can be another tool in the toolbox to build greater understanding and acceptance of what works where and when.
Spending years studying every problem location in a community is just not responsive enough to today’s roadway safety crisis. We need more tools to hasten change and, as one panelist, implored “get out there & do it!”
Watch the full recording to learn more about Houston’s and Pittsburgh’s experiences and INRIX’s safety analytics tools to tackle common challenges, such as working productively with fire departments on street design changes and addressing state- and county-owned roads, which often boast a disproportionate amount of safety problems within a community.
And we encourage communities to think about how to integrate speed management strategies into their work consistently, including leveraging funding, such as SS4A, for quicker turn-around improvements by conducting demonstrations and pilots.
Thank you to INRIX for their support of Vision Zero Network. If you’re interested in learning more about sponsorship opportunities, contact leah (at) visionzeronetwork.org, and see ways to contribute to our work here.
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