Vision Zero

Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.  The concept, created in Sweden in 1997, is credited with a significant reduction in fatal and serious crashes on Sweden’s roads. In this country, the national Vision Zero Network supports communities in developing strong leadership, policies and practices to achieve this goal. WalkBoston is helping lead the Vision Zero movement in Boston and Massachusetts, both through our advocacy and as a founder of the Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition.

The core principles of Vision Zero are:

  • Traffic deaths are preventable and unacceptable
  • Human life takes priority over any other objective of the road system. Our streets should be safe for all users, for all modes of transportation, in all communities and for people of all ages and abilities
  • Human error and poor behavior are inevitable and unpredictable; transportation design must anticipate both to avoid severe injury or death.
  • People are inherently vulnerable and speed is a predictor of crash survival. Transportation systems must be designed to protect human life
  • Safe human behaviors, education and enforcement are essential to a safe system
  • Government policies need to align with making safety the highest priority for roadways

Three Massachusetts municipalities have adopted Vision Zero (as of March 2018) and they are different stages in the process of adopting policies and practices and in making built environment changes for safety. Each of the cities below provides a link to their Vision Zero efforts.

  • Boston adopted December 2015, Action Plan released February 2016
  • Cambridge adopted March 2016, Action Plan released February 2018
  • Somerville adopted September 2017, an Action Plan has not yet been released

One of the important ways that we are working with the MA Vision Zero Coalition is to report on the progress each city is making on their Action Plan. The 2016 Progress Report for Boston shows a mix of success and slower than hoped for progress. The 2017 Progress Report for Boston was released in the days after Mayor Walsh’s commitment of $5 million additional funds for transportation staffing and projects for FY19 – a major step in the right direction. The proposal to add two planners and two engineers tasked with Vision Zero efforts will directly contribute to increasing traffic safety.

WalkBoston tracks pedestrian fatalities across Massachusetts through a robust monitoring of news reports. This information is more timely and more detailed than the tracking that is available through state or municipal sources. Looking at these links will give the reader a powerful sense of why we need Vision Zero.