Vision Zero For Active Transportation

Many cities recognize the need for drastically reducing the number of fatalities caused by motor vehicles, either in collisions with other vehicles, or with “vulnerable road users” such as pedestrians and bicyclists. “Vision Zero” is the term for this, originating in Sweden in the 1990s and gaining momentum in Europe and now the US. In the US we have made some progress, overall traffic fatalities have decreased over the past few years. But for pedestrian and bike fatalities involving automobiles, unfortunately the trend is up, not down. I think fixing this is crucial for increasing the number of people using “active transportation”, such as walking or biking. I am pleased that my town is taking it seriously:

Here is Morgan Hill’s description of vision zero: “Vision Zero is a traffic safety improvement initiative that began in Sweden in 1997 and has been credited with reducing traffic fatalities. The core principles are building better and safer streets, educating the public on traffic safety, enforcing traffic laws, and adopting policy changes that save lives. The goal is to create a culture that prioritizes safety, creates livable streets, and seeks to eliminate traffic fatalities”

I discussed the role of active transportation in healthy living in a previous post. You’ll often see the advice to park further from your destination when commuting or running errands, so you can get some exercise in, with which I agree. But in the US, for example, approximately one half the motor vehicle trips are 2 miles or less. Why not just walk or bike the whole way?

With many people a major obstacle is safety concerns. I think a lot more would be willing to walk or bike if they were not concerned about motor vehicles.

An all too common example in the US of prioritizing speed over safety. “Slip Lanes” allow motor vehicles to make right turns faster, but make it less safe for pedestrians. (StrongTowns.org)

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