What do Safe Streets Mean to You?
A few of our transportation planners took to streets and intersections in Houston and talked about why they feel safe using them, whether driving, biking, or walking.
Let's Talk About the Problem
Adopting its Vision Zero Action Plan in 2016,
Austin has advanced both policy and infrastructure
improvements that support safe, efficient, and convenient
mobility for all roadways users and modes of transportation.
In 2016 Austin voters supported a mobility bond which dedicated
$15 million towards intersection safety and Vision Zero projects.
Funds were used to implement safety improvements at 10 intersections,
reducing crashes at an average of 45% after completion. Leading pedestrian
intervals were incorporated at the 110 intersections within Austin’s downtown
corridor. Most recently the city adopted its Strategic Mobility Plan in 2019,
a 20-year comprehensive, multimodal transportation plan with the goal to reduce
single-driver mode share from 74% to 50%.
Portland’s adoption of Vision Zero in 2015 began
with a data-centric approach to curtailing vehicle-related deaths.
Portland identified a ‘High Crash Network’—the 30 most dangerous streets
and intersections responsible for 65% of deadly crashes (although comprising
8% of the total street grid—to concentrate efforts. Four streets within the
network were targeted for the instillation of speed safety cameras in 2016.
The cameras led to a 59% reduction in vehicle speeding (85% reduction in top-end speeding).
Almost half of Portland’s traffic-related deaths
involve alcohol impairment, so the Portland Bureau of
Transportation partnered with city police, local bar owners,
and ride-share and taxi companies for Safe Ride Home, an initiative meant
to reduce the number of drivers under the influence. Safe Ride Home provides
ride-vouchers during high alcohol consumption days. From 2017-2019 the program was
successful in removing close to 10,000 would-be drunk drivers from roadways.
In 2015, Oslo’s city government signed a declaration to
reduce automobile traffic and increase the share of cycling
and transit mobility. This declaration led to sweeping city-wide
changes in policy as part of their Car-free Livability Program.
Tolls for entering the city increased by 70%, and parking fees were
increased city-wide. Over 700 on-street parking spaces were removed and
transformed into 37 miles of new cycling infrastructure and pocket parks.
Ta Car-free “Hjertesoners”, or heart zones, were established around primary
schools to protect children. The city center car ban went into effect in 2019,
allowing only delivery and transit vehicles and parking for the disabled within
the square-mile city core. These policies contributed to Oslo having zero pedestrian,
cyclist, or child auto-related deaths in 2019.
Mexico City is a largely car-oriented city of 20 million
residents. The City spent 73% of its federal transportation dollars
over 30 years on car-oriented infrastructure. As part of the City’s
commitment to improve mobility through an integrated, safe, and sustainable
system, a new mobility law was approved in 2015. The law’s approval marked a
paradigm shift toward pedestrian-focused infrastructure and a change in mobility
culture. The new law established a mobility hierarchy, which promoted pedestrian,
cyclist, and public transportation mobility over private auto-focused mobility.
The Ministry of Transport and Roads changed its name to the Ministry of Mobility.
This cultural shift also included adopting Vision Zero CDMX to deter the loss of
human lives caused by traffic crashes. Mexico City’s Vision Zero Action Plan
identified 22 goals and 43 actions from mobility and road safety audits to
reducing speed limits. Mexico City decreased the number of traffic collision
casualties by 18.3% in approximately two years.
NYC’s Vision Zero program has completed close to 500
street improvement projects since its adoption in 2014,
leading to a 33% reduction in traffic deaths from 2013-2018.
One successful initiative is the Department of Transportation’s
(DOT) “Great Streets” program. $250 million in capital funds were
dedicated to safety and infrastructure improvements along four arterial
roads: Queens Boulevard, the Grand Concourse, Atlantic Avenue, and Fourth
Avenue. Queens Boulevard received $100 million for protected bike lanes,
pedestrian islands, and road diets. Once known as the “Boulevard of Death”
where pedestrian fatalities averaged near 9—peaking at 18 in 1997—Queens
Boulevard saw zero pedestrian fatalities between 2014-2017.
Part of Helsinki’s near-zero traffic fatality rate in 2019 (zero pedestrian
or cyclist and only 3 motorist) is attributed to city officials drastically reducing
speed limits throughout the city. In 2018 an ordinance passed to reduce speed limits
in the city center and residential areas to 30km/h (18.6 mph), 40km/h (25 mph) on city
main streets, and 50 km/h (31mph) on suburban main streets. Personal automobiles comprise
20% of the mode share for all trips in Helsinki, much in part due to an expansive 745-mile
network of protected bike paths well maintained in all seasons.
*Events are subject to change pending policies and procedures regarding COVID-19.
Everyone deserves safe, accessible streets and sidewalks. That’s why Houston is committed to ending
traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. We can prevent people from dying on our roadways. No loss of life is acceptable.