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Action Needed to Match Vision Zero Ambition in Philadelphia

Philadelphia's succeeded at reducing traffic fatalities in the first years after adopting a Vision Zero goal. That success didn't last, and one writer is calling for the city to back up its ambitious talk with actions.
January 23, 2020, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Market Street, Center City
Justin Wolfe

Claire Sasko checks in with Philadelphia's Vision Zero goal, which started off strong but has recently been heading in the wrong direction:

In 2017, the city’s first year under Vision Zero, a decrease in crash fatalities made the impossible look … possible. But during 2018, the program’s second year, traffic deaths actually jumped by 17 percent, for an increase from 78 to 91, continuing a general upward trend in people killed by vehicles on Philly streets.

The Vision Goal is ambitious, writes but Sasko, but the actions of the city have not matched that ambition when it mattered.

The city has failed to follow through with the kinds of game-changing infrastructure projects that can permanently alter a city’s street-safety culture. One example? Bike lanes. In 2015, New York’s second year of Vision Zero, that city added 12.4 miles of protected bike lanes — more than double Philly’s total protected bike-lane network.

While Sasko's focus is trained squarely on Philadelphia's ambitions for traffic safety, the same story can be found in every city talking Vision Zero talk but not walking Vision Zero walk. The stories picked up by Planetizen on this same theme are numerous:

The question remains whether it's better to live in a city that has made a Vision Zero promise it had no idea how to keep, like the cities above, or to live in a city that can't muster the political will to make the promise in the first place, like Cincinnati and Phoenix.

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Published on Saturday, January 18, 2020 in Philadelphia
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