Vision Zero: Where Should We Start?

Photo credit: www.lamayor.org

Last August, we stood behind Mayor Eric Garcetti as he signed Executive Directive 10 calling on city agencies to eliminate all traffic deaths in Los Angeles by 2025. While Vision Zero aims to eliminate all deaths, there is a particular focus on safety for people walking and biking because they are more vulnerable to injury and death. Even though people walking and biking are involved in only 14% of traffic collisions, they account for nearly half of all traffic deaths in Los Angeles.

The City wants your input on how best to prioritize Vision Zero project locations in our communities: click here to share your thoughts on how the City should calculate its highest priority locations.

LACBC has been advocating for Vision Zero from the beginning, working with Los Angeles Walks and other partners to form the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance to build a broad constituency for safe and equitable streets. Our partners in the Alliance represent communities from all over the city. We support Vision Zero in Los Angeles, and want to make sure that it is implemented here in ways that respect our diverse communities.

Among Alliance members, we have had rich discussions about what it means to focus city resources in the low-income communities of color where crashes are happening at greater rates. These resources include investments in physical infrastructure that could change the look and feel of community spaces. How do we make sure the City talks to local residents and business owners that use these spaces every day? How do we make sure that physical changes like curb extensions don’t inadvertently make catching the bus harder? And how do we talk about how renewed interest by the City in long-neglected neighborhoods intersects with conversations about gentrification and displacement and other changes in the community?

We know many of you have asked how you can get involved in the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance. Our goal is to be part of making that process more transparent going forward. We’re contributing work on a subcommittee of the Alliance whose goal is to set structures in place to be more inclusive and bring more people to the table. If you’re interested in joining, let us know.  You can tweet us, email us, or sign up to receive emails on our Alliance page.

Vision Zero also involves additional enforcement to target traffic violations that are most likely to injure or kill in the places that those crashes happen. What does this mean when those high-crash locations are mostly in communities of color? How do we, as equity allies, work on this initiative when one of the goals is to potentially add police resources in communities that already feel over policed? How do we hold law enforcement accountable in communities that are most at risk of being hit and killed in traffic and see police mistreatment on their streets regularly?

Vision Zero is an exciting initiative with collaboration from all relevant city departments, including the Department of Transportation, LAPD, and the various bureaus of the Department of Public Works. It also goes beyond that to include agencies that work with older adults like the Department of Aging and agencies working with youth like LAUSD. With so many partners at the table on the City side, there’s a tremendous opportunity for advocates to engage with these various agencies to address systemic issues facing our communities.

Right now, Vision Zero is in the data-crunching period to figure out what’s going on on our streets and how to fix it. This survey is your opportunity to weigh in directly on this process. Data is a critical foundation, but it’s important to remember that it is the start of the discussion, not the end. This data needs to be groundtruthed with residents in the communities most impacted by traffic violence. And we need to remember that the data doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t address communities with widespread underreporting of traffic crashes because residents don’t trust the police. It doesn’t address communities where people don’t feel safe walking and biking, so they don’t. And it doesn’t factor in other issues that make people feel unsafe in public spaces.

Submit your vote on the City’s priorities by Thursday, March 31, at 5 p.m. (extended deadline): click here to vote now!

And follow both LACBC and the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance for more updates on Vision Zero in Los Angeles. Like the Los Angeles Vision Zero Alliance on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter @LAvisionzero.

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