Written by Michael Graham Richard
It’s important to set ambitious and inspiring goals. If you think wars are horrible, you should aim to end all wars, not to have 10% fewer wars. Even if you don’t reach the goal, you’ll probably make more total progress striving for it than working on an easier but less inspiring goal. That’s kind of what the city of Chicago’s transportation department is doing. Its new action agenda called “Chicago Forward” (PDF) contains the goal of “Eliminating all pedestrian, bicycle, and overall traffic crash fatalities within 10 years.” In the recent past, the city has been averaging about 50 traffic fatalities a year.
To get there, the city doesn’t see a silver bullet but rather a long-term commitment to creating the right conditions for safety by doing a variety of things. Some of which are:
-A target of zero traffic fatalities annually in 10 years. (The city has been averaging about 50 a year.)
20 mph zones in all the city’s residential areas.
-A five percent bike mode share on trips less than five miles. (Currently 1.3 percent of Chicagoans travel by bike, but in the central city the figure is as high as two percent.)
-An emphasis on street maintenance, or “fix it first.”
-Better education for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians
-Better data collection and evaluation, analyze all fatal crashes involving pedestrians or bicycles.
-More and better enforcement of rules
-Annually evaluate the top 10 crash locations in the city and implement quick, low-cost improvements while also seeking funding for more comprehensive changes.
More details are available in the city’s action plan (PDF).
I think it’s a great idea, and a very inspiring ideal. Hopefully other cities all around the world will follow suit until we have a widespread culture of “zero” when it comes to traffic fatalities. We might not get there, but the closer we get, the better, and the process of making streets safer for everybody should lead to much more liveable, bikeable, walkable cities.
This post was originally published by TreeHugger.
Photo from Dottie B. via flickr