What is Vision Zero?
We don’t have to accept deaths and injuries on our roads as the cost of modern life. Most collisions can be prevented through improved infrastructure, education and enforcement. The goal of Vision Zero is just that: No more traffic deaths and injuries!
Why Vision Zero?
In 2014, 32,675 Americans died in traffic crashes. Our own city of Santa Barbara has a serious traffic safety problem. Compared to California cities of similar size, we rank 2nd for bicycle collisions and 3rd for pedestrian collisions. Over the last ten years, more than 60% of traffic fatalities were pedestrians and bicyclists. As in other cities, the death toll is highest for pedestrians: Fully 50% of all traffic fatalities in the last fifteen years were pedestrians.
New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and scores of other cities across the country have adopted compelling Vision Zero policies. The SB Bicycle Coalition (SBBIKE) and COAST (Coalition for Sustainable Transportation) are leading the charge as Santa Barbara adopts its own Vision Zero policy…a concerted effort to make our streets safer and more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities and to bring traffic fatalities and serious injuries to zero by 2030!
Please join us every fourth Thursday of the month at noon at Good Cup downtown (918 State St.) for our monthly advocacy meeting. Vision Zero is part of that. Everyone is welcome!
Here is our letter to the SB City Council, submitted in October, 2016:
Vision Zero is an idea whose time has come. Alarmed by rising traffic fatalities, the federal government just issued its own call to embark on a “Road to Zero.” In 2014, Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx, challenged the nation’s mayors to make their cities streets safer for all users, particularly the vulnerable ones. Our mayor took the challenge. Now is the time to make good on the promise. Any call from the federal government can only be effective if it s supported by action at the local level. Santa Barbara needs a Vision Zero program.
The larger cities in California, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and San Francisco, already have Vision Zero policies and plans. Smaller cities are now following suit. There are plenty of models for us to adapt to our needs. Vision Zero benefits all modes of transportation. Among cities of comparable size, Santa Barbara ranks high for its number of bicyclist and pedestrian collisions, as well as collisions caused by DUI. 62.5% of traffic fatalities over the last 15 years were pedestrians and bicyclists. These issues and more would be tackled by Vision Zero.
We urge the City Council to adopt a Vision Zero Resolution, followed by a Vision Zero Plan. In keeping with Santa Barbara’s tradition of citizen involvement, we also urge Council to establish a Vision Zero Stakeholders’ Committee, modeled on a similar group in San Francisco. It would include public works and police staff as well as representatives of the organizations that have led the Vision Zero movement in Santa Barbara. This would be a constructive opportunity for the groups to collaborate in their efforts to improve traffic safety.
Vision Zero has broad public support. Please see our Vision Zero Platform below and the list of our partner organizations. They include Community Environmental Council, City College, the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health, the Santa Barbara School District, Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce and many others.
Here is what you can do:
- Come to City Council meetings when Vision Zero is being discussed.
- Call your favorite city council member if you have his/her personal number.
- E-mail council members in support. E-mails can be found here.
Our dedicated team of Vision Zero advocates has been meeting since the fall of 2014 to plan our campaign. COAST and SBBIKE are the lead organizations, and many other organizations have endorsed our platform. Our sincere thanks go to all of them. Please see the list of our endorsements on our ‘About Us‘ page.
On May 12, 2015, the Santa Barbara City Council voted to proceed with the creation of a Vision Zero policy. The vote set Santa Barbara on the course toward the goal of ZERO traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The process continued on October 18th, 2016, when the Council voted unanimously to support a Vision Zero Resolution and directed staff to draft a Vision Zero Plan. They will apply for a grant to do so. There were eight speakers, all in support, who had the stamina to sit through the four hour plus item that was before us on the agenda. A big thank-you to these dedicated people! We further thank the many people who e-mailed council members in support. This made a big difference.
The next step will be formally adopting the resolution. After that, we will start to draft the plan. The success of Vision Zero depends on a strong plan. This will only be possible with broad public support. Please make your voice heard! We need to ensure our Vision Zero policy is comprehensive, encompassing the three key components of engineering, education and enforcement.
Testimony from family members of those who had been killed or injured on our streets is always especially powerful. One mother who lives on West Valerio Street, near the Mesa, described how her teenage son was hit crossing the street in front of her house by a car going at least 40 mph. Miraculously, he survived. Other kids were not so lucky: Carina Velasquez, a student at Santa Ynez High School, was killed when she was walking home from her school on March 26, 2015. Carina was fifteen, just one day shy of her sixteenth birthday.
Read and print the official Vision Zero SB Platform here.
Please note: This is our original platform from 2014. Our target date for zero fatalities is now 2030.