A growing number of cities in the U.S. and in Europe – including Sacramento – have embraced Vision Zero, an approach to planning safety improvements conceived in Sweden in the late 1990s that sets the goal of preventing severe injuries and deaths caused by traffic collisions. It takes a systems approach that recognizes that public agencies, transportation providers and road users are equally responsible for safety, and that road must be designed to protect against human error.
Last summer the Sacramento City Council voted to direct the Public Works Department staff to develop a Vision Zero plan for Sacramento. This fall, the Public Works staff invited SABA and other stakeholders, including representatives from other City of Sacramento departments, to be part of a task force to help develop Sacramento’s Vision Zero action plan.
During late winter and early spring 2017, the task force will review citywide collision data, including details about the factors contributing to collisions that caused severe injuries and deaths. Based on the data, the task force will develop a draft action plan with possible interventions related to engineering (e.g., street and intersection design), education and enforcement. Later next year the City of Sacramento will review the possible interventions with neighborhood and community groups as the last step in developing a final action plan.
By involving residents and neighborhood groups from the start, the City benefits from the knowledge of people who use these streets every day and also generates a higher degree of community buy-in. Infrastructure projects developed with substantial guidance from residents improves the City of Sacramento’s competitiveness for state and federal funding that give priority to projects with strong community support.
Meanwhile, SABA has been tracking fatal bike collisions in our region. Since May 2015, 13 people on bikes have died in traffic collisions within Sacramento County, including 4 within Sacramento city limits. Twelve of the collisions occurred on main arterial streets with long distances between intersections controlled by traffic signals or stop signs, and speed limits at or over 35 MPH, both conditions that enable drivers to speed. (In collisions where the vehicle is traveling 40 MPH, nine out of ten bicyclists die.)
Based on what we’ve learned about these collisions, vehicle speed, road designs that don’t adequately accommodate bike traffic, and close proximity between vehicles and bikes are likely factors in why those collisions occurred.