Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla and the City of Hoboken invite all members of the community to provide input on the City’s draft Vision Zero Action Plan by Wednesday, January 27. The plan will help guide Hoboken’s Vision Zero efforts to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities and injuries by 2030 and create safer streets. To provide feedback on the draft plan and view a recording of the public meeting from January 13, please visit the City’s Vision Zero website, http://www.vzhoboken.com/public-input.
What is Vision Zero?
Vision Zero is a global phenomenon that, since it started in 1997, has spread across the world and to more than 40 communities across the United States, including Hoboken. Vision Zero is based on five key principles:
- Traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable.
- Human life and health are prioritized within all aspects of transportation systems.
- Human error is inevitable, and transportation systems should be forgiving.
- Safety work should focus on systems-level change above influencing individual behavior.
- Speed is recognized as the fundamental factor in crash severity.
Vision Zero encourages cities to adopt achievable goals to prevent traffic-related severe injuries and fatalities. Hoboken’s goal is to eliminate all traffic-related injuries and fatalities by 2030.
While Hoboken is consistently rated as one of the nation’s most walkable and bicycle friendly cities in the United States, preventable injuries and deaths from crashes still happen in our community.
During the five-year period from 2014-2018, there were 376 traffic-related injuries and 3 fatalities suffered on Hoboken’s streets. The impacts of these crashes weren’t felt evenly across all modes; however, 17% of all crashes resulted in an injury, 76% of all bicycle-involved crashes resulted in an injury, 83% of all pedestrian-involved crashes resulted in an injury, and 3 deaths were pedestrians.
What is the Vision Zero Action Plan?
Hoboken’s Vision Zero Action Plan will serve as a roadmap to achieving the goal of zero traffic-related injuries and deaths in Hoboken by 2030. It will layout action items and strategies for each department to operationalize the five principles of Vision Zero. The Department of Transportation and Parking will lead the creation of the Action Plan, but the community’s input will factor heavily into the creation of the action items and strategies.
Vision Zero is unorthodox, and that’s good
Traditionally, traffic safety campaigns have focused on the efforts of individual stakeholders.
For example, a police department will conduct speed enforcement in a corridor with a known high rate of speeding violations or a street project will add bicycle lanes to a redesigned street. While these efforts do improve safety for roadway users, they are typically done independently from each other. Adherents to Vision Zero, on the other hand, will use a data-driven approach that attempts to redesign a street to prevent speeding and accommodate bicyclists or other micromobility users.
Another example of how Vision Zero encourages this paradigm shift relates to community outreach. Traditionally, vulnerable community groups identify with a community organization for support, but those groups aren’t consulted when important transportation safety decisions are made, despite the fact that historically, they are the most negatively affected by traffic-related injuries or deaths. A Vision Zero initiative identifies these vulnerable communities up front and engages with them from the beginning to ensure that they are an important part of the decision-making process at the most impactful stages.
A final example that helps explain Vision Zero’s unorthodox approach focuses on vehicle sizes. Typically, City departments, such as the Environmental Services and Fire Departments will purchase large vehicles based solely on utilitarian need. Under the principles of Vision Zero, department directors are challenged to think about how these vehicles impact cities’ abilities to make street safety improvements, such as narrowing a travel lane to discourage speeding or install a bicycle lane. As a result of this shift in thinking, these departments find ways to incorporate smaller vehicles that help achieve their same utilitarian goals while also achieving the larger Vision Zero goal.
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