Vision Zero’s Ambitious Safety Plans Face Implementation Realities

The program’s outcomes in different cities show varying levels of success and some failures.
September 24, 2018, 2pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Laura Laker takes a closer look at Vision Zero, a traffic safety program designed to decrease, and ultimately eliminate, traffic deaths and injuries. In 2014, New York was the first large American city to adopt a Vision Zero program. The city lowered traffic speeds on particularly dangerous streets, installed features that slowed traffic, and put in speed cameras. Road fatalities decreased by over 25 percent and pedestrian deaths by almost 50 percent by 2017.

Los Angeles, on the other hand, ran into problems when it started up a Vision Zero program last year, and road fatalities eventually increased by 80 percent, reports Laker:

On Temple Street, where 34 people were killed or severely injured within 2.3 miles in eight years, a “road diet” expected to reduce crashes by up to 47% met backlash from residents and drivers. Local city leaders downgraded lane removals to things that wouldn’t interfere with motor traffic: sidewalk repairs, new traffic signals and crosswalks.

London recently adopted its own Vision Zero plan, and it is also facing resistance. “In June, mayor Sadiq Khan’s flagship pedestrian safety scheme, the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street, was blocked by the local borough, Westminster city council, following local concerns about traffic displacement,” says Laker.

Advocates say Vision Zero programs need strong political leadership to push through the kinds of infrastructure and design changes necessary for creating a safer urban landscape. In addition, policing needs to focus more on drivers and less on pedestrians and cyclists, they say. 

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Published on Monday, September 17, 2018 in The Guardian
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