Vision Zero Success Story: Fremont, California

While traffic fatalities continue to rise nationwide, Fremont has drastically reduced its crash rates in the five years since it launched its Vision Zero project.

Read Time: 2 minutes

October 20, 2021, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Five years after committing to a bold Vision Zero plan, Fremont, California is seeing impressive results. As Brian Hendershot reports, the city "has an average fatality rate of 2.1 traffic deaths per 100,000 residents annually — significantly fewer than California and the U.S., where rates have risen to 9.1 and 11, respectively."

The Fremont Public Works Department — which includes Transportation Engineering, Pavement Maintenance Program, and Street Maintenance — made extensive use of inexpensive, temporary, 'quick-build' projects to improve safety for drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users alike in a relatively short period of time. The department also restriped 47% of the city’s arterial roadways, built protected intersections, upgraded dozens of crosswalks with short-term, reduced speeds in more than 50 street segments, converted its streetlights to use 'white' LED lights, and decreased the number of lanes in several roadways.

"Initially, Fremont’s Vision Zero was achieved with zero new funding commitments or dedicated staff positions. Instead, existing resources were redirected from projects that did not serve the city’s new goals." Later, "[t]he city was able to build on the success of those early years and attract grant funding for higher-cost projects, such as raised cycle tracks and protected intersections.

For its efforts, Fremont received the 2021 'Transportation Safety Achievement' award from the National Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) organization and 'Project of the Year' award from the Western ITE District.

Hendershot attributes Fremont's success to its "strong internal, cross-agency partnerships" and its reliance on "high-quality quantitative and qualitative data" in decision-making. For example, thanks to a robust crash mapping program, the city's transportation engineers "typically receive crash reports within 30 days of a crash — far quicker than in many other cities, where the wait may be a year or more after a crash occurs." This data-driven, proactive approach to Vision Zero allowed the city "to dramatically increase traffic safety at a time when traffic fatalities were increasing regionally and nationally."

For another example of Vision Zero progress (amid numerous examples of failures) see also Hoboken, New Jersey. For a reminder what measures can make Vision Zero a reality, see a Planetizen article written by Angie Schmitt earlier this year.

Friday, October 1, 2021 in Western City


The Top Urban Planning Books of 2022

An annual list of the must-read books related to urban planning and its intersecting fields.

November 28, 2022 - James Brasuell

The  Rue Sainte-Catherine in Bordeaux is crowded with pedestrians in a lively European scene.

European Cities Act on Density

The sprawling mass of suburbia has been a disaster for the environment. But now smaller, denser cities herald a renaissance in city living.

November 20, 2022 - Wired Magazine

Victorian two-story buildings with retail shops in downtown Nashvile, Tennessee

Nashville Sets Downtown Parking Maximums

Nashville is the latest city to enact a substantive change to the parking requirements set by the city’s zoning code—doing away with parking minimums and setting parking maximums in the city’s Urban Zoning Overlay.

November 20, 2022 - The Tennessean

Dark parking garage, empty except for one car covered with a red tarp

Advice for a Post-Parking Mandate World

After abolishing parking requirements, what can cities do to make the most of new space and revenue and avoid backlash?

November 29 - Next City

View of park ranger with tan hat from behind, ranger looking out at Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Western Voters: Yes to Conservation, No to Extremism

Voters in Western states generally favored candidates who support public land conservation in this November’s election and rejected extremist rhetoric.

November 29 - High Country News

The Boring Company

Detailing the Boring Company’s Poor Track Record

Elon Musk’s promised solution for congestion—the Boring Co.—has proven most successful at disappearing on the governments that trusted them.

November 29 - The Wall Street Journal

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.