In August, the City of Los Angeles officially adopted Vision Zero as policy, joining a worldwide movement to eliminate all traffic deaths by the year 2025. In this repost from the Vision Zero Network blog, Carolyn Szczepanski writes on how Vision Zero and equitable policing intersect.
Over the past two years, Vision Zero has helped to focus a long overdue spotlight on traffic crashes and their tragic toll on millions of people across the U.S. At the same time, activists with movements like Black Lives Matter have raised our awareness around another long-standing issue playing out in our streets: policing in communities of color.
This week, the “Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About This?” podcast out of Portland, Ore., (a Vision Zero city) explored the intersections between these two rising movements for health and safety for all. With enforcement as a common tenet for Vision Zero initiatives nationwide, the new podcast that focuses on social justice and the built environment convened three leaders of color in the active transportation movement to share their insights on Vision Zero and enforcement:
Keith Benjamin, Street Scale Campaign Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
Tamika Butler, Executive Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
Naomi Doerner, a transportation planner and mobility advocate based in New Orleans
To frame the conversation Stephanie Routh, a co-host of the podcast, asked a powerful question: “Does street safety only refer to traffic safety? Thanks to work of activists such as those involved in Black Lives Matter, there’s increasing awareness to the death, discrimination and disproportionate enforcement experienced by Black people, as well as other marginalized populations at the hands of police forces on our streets everyday. How does Vision Zero intersect with a broader call to street safety? Where can we go together?”
That question led to a rich discussion about the challenges and opportunities for Vision Zero, particularly as it relates to police enforcement.
Historically, many low-income communities and communities of color have been left out of the conversation about transportation planning — and their neighborhoods have seen chronic under-investment in creating safe environments, including sidewalks, bikeways and sufficient crossing times for pedestrians. Now, not surprisingly, many of those same neighborhoods are coming to the forefront as Vision Zero priority areas, because they are being recognized as hot spots for traffic crashes.
As officials and advocates take a more data-driven approach, thanks to Vision Zero, and prioritize making those streets safe, how do they ensure the strategies and tactics serve residents of these areas rather than exacerbate other challenges?Read more