The goal is to eliminate traffic crashes by 2026
Chicago finally has a plan. On Monday, the city unveiled its blueprint for Vision Zero, a three-year commitment to eliminating traffic crashes by 2026.
Initially expected in the fall of 2016, Chicago’s Vision Zero Action Plan is part of an international road safety project developed by the Swedish government in 1994. The approach is designed to change the way people think about road safety, “summarized in one sentence: No loss of life is acceptable.” Since its debut more than 20 years ago, Vision Zero has been adopted by major cities in Europe and the U.S., including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle, each tailoring goals to fit their respective infrastructures.
For Chicago’s purposes, Vision Zero is a coordinated effort between 11 city departments, including the Office of the Mayor, the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Chicago Police and Chicago Fire Departments. Each provided input to formulate what is now the foundation to make the city’s streets and roadways safer for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, which have become increasingly dangerous in recent years.
Death and serious injuries from traffic crashes jumped by 8% between 2010-2014. In total, 9,480 people were seriously injured and 554 people were killed. Data and analysis provided by the city also recognizes that many crashes are disproportionate based on income level and communities that suffer economic hardship.
A notable highlight is that the plan also recognizes traffic deaths and injury as a public health issue, going as far as saying that the risks associated with traffic crashes pose a public health concern for everyone living in the city. That categorization ultimately lends itself to more community engagement and how agencies consider the impact of their programs to improve the security of Chicagoans.
But perhaps even more significant is one of Vision Zero’s core principles, which states that a traffic crash is not an “accident,” but a predictable and preventable occurrence, a guiding philosophy that is now at the heart of the city’s mission.
A few highlights from Chicago’s action plan is below, with more analysis to follow. You can find the Action Plan here.
Action Plan Benchmarks:
- Reduce deaths from traffic crashes 20% citywide by 2020
- Reduce serious injuries from traffic crashes 35% by 2020
- Approach death and serious injury from traffic crashes as a public health issue
- Design streets so that speeds are safe for all users of the roadway
- Lead by example on vehicle safety equipment and driver training
- Police traffic laws fairly, focusing on education and the dangerous driving behaviors that cause most severe crashes
- Commit to investing resources equitably