Hank, Schulte Memorial, April 2013

Photo credit: Denver Street Partnership

Photo credit: Denver Street Partnership

Photo credit: NACTO, Urban Street Design Guide

Vision Zero
2017 – $10,000 General Support

Vision Zero Network is a nonprofit project working to advance Vision Zero – the goal of zero traffic deaths or severe injuries. Since its inception in 2015, it has helped grow the number of US communities committing to Vision Zero from 3 to more than 45. In addition, mainstream awareness of and support for the goal of safe mobility for all has grown significantly amongst elected leaders and policymakers, advocates, community members, and the private sector.

Traffic crashes cause 40,000 preventable deaths each year in the US and millions more serious injuries. And amongst youth, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death. This translates to 100 people losing their lives every day simply while walking, biking, riding transit, or driving. This equates to a mid-sized plane crashing every day, killing all passengers on board, which would certainly garner attention. But, most people are complacent about the tragedy of our daily death traffic toll.

Some communities are disproportionately harmed by traffic crashes in the US, including: children and seniors, people walking and bicycling, people of color, and low-income community members. When we factor in the health impacts of lack of physical activity due to overreliance on cars and auto-focused land use, as well as the pollution-related health impacts of motor vehicles, the already-staggering death toll of our car culture increases exponentially.

Vision Zero Network advances the goal of safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all people nationwide, whether walking, bicycling, riding transit or driving. As a learning network, they develop and share best practices, research and strategic communications. And, as an action-based campaign, they set milestones for success, help ensure accountability, elevate champions and raise public awareness. Their work includes facilitating peer exchange amongst community leaders and public sector staff leading traffic safety work on the ground, including public health and transportation professionals, policymakers, and community-based advocates. And by developing and sharing resources and setting up learning opportunities amongst peers, they help communities share promising strategies and lessons learned to advance Vision Zero. 

The Vision Zero framework treats traffic safety as a public health issue deserving of greater attention, support, and resources. Vision Zero is predicated on the understanding that these tragedies are not inevitable, but rather that we can make progress in safety by focusing on the upstream factors that influence people’s actions, particularly road design that accommodates all users and policies that prioritize safety over speed, including how speed limits are set. 

Vision Zero Network supports US communities in taking a systemic approach to reduce traffic deaths & severe injuries among all road users. Vision Zero is a new way of thinking about – and acting on – the need for safe mobility. It is both a goal and a strategy and represents a shift in three ways: First, it acknowledges that traffic deaths are preventable. Second, it is an interdisciplinary approach, coalescing diverse and necessary stakeholders to address a complex social problem. Lastly, Vision Zero is a data-based approach.

With Vision Zero, people across the nation are stepping up to declare that “Enough is enough” of the preventable loss and tragedy on our streets, sidewalks, and bikeways. Community members, mayors, transportation and public health professionals, police officers, and others are declaring that zero is the only morally responsible goal to set for safety.  They are acknowledging that we can prioritize safety while still ensuring mobility in our communities: This is a political choice. Slowly, but surely, we are seeing Vision Zero communities challenge the old paradigm that speed (or perception of speed) trumps safety.

The only acceptable goal for deaths on our streets, sidewalks, and bikeways is ZERO.

Seed Fund generously supported Vision Zero Network efforts to improve prioritization of racial and economic equity in traffic safety work. Staff focused on building knowledge, partnerships, and a long-term strategy toward centering equity in Vision Zero work. This included participation in national convenings on equity and policy implications.  In addition, they served as a resource to Vision Zero cities on this critical topic of how to ensure both effective and equitable strategies and outcomes in Vision Zero work growing around the nation. Examples of work in this area include development and sharing of resources such as “Equity Strategies for Vision Zero Practitioners” and educational webinars bringing together traffic safety leaders with racial and equity justice leaders. This has led to development of relationships and partnerships with leaders in the racial justice/transportation field and greater racial diversity on the VZ Network’s Advisory Committee. Longer-term, Seed Fund’s investment has supported the development of Vision Zero Network’s equity series, bringing together Vision Zero peers from around the country to discuss and develop traffic safety alternatives to promote both effectiveness and equity.