In December 2015, Mayor Muriel Bowser rolled out the plan for zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2024. What you may not realize is the effort behind the scenes to put a plan of this magnitude together. Here’s a little insider’s scoop on how the Vision Zero came to be.
It all began with a call to action by Anthony Foxx, the United States Secretary of Transportation. The Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets, which charged city officials to take a proactive stance for pedestrian and bicycle safety. In response, the District of Columbia’s Mayor Muriel Bowser launched DC’s Vision Zero campaign, modeled after the Swedish version, to reduce the number of transportation related fatalities and serious injuries to zero. The development of strategies to support the mission of Vision Zero was multi-pronged, in that it consisted of agency, public, and advocate support.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) was responsible for facilitating the development of the Vision Zero Strategies, but by no means is Vision Zero a DDOT plan. This was an all hands on deck approach, where every agency that influences transportation safety was involved and responsible the development and implementation of the strategies. Eventually this effort included 30 city agencies.
Four workgroups (data, engineering, education, and enforcement), met at least four times throughout the spring and summer to brainstorm and collaborate on initiatives and solutions for public safety. Agencies worked together to identify needs and offer each other support for developing strategies. All strategies went through several layers of approval from individual agency directors to the Mayor’s office.
Throughout the summer DDOT led an aggressive public outreach campaign to promote Vision Zero. This campaign consisted of a crowdsourcing map that the public used to identify areas of the District perceived to be hazardous to moving safely, ten public awareness events near busy transit hubs and areas of high pedestrian traffic, roll-out of thirty Vision Zero branded Capital Bikeshare bikes, bus shelter PSAs, and a youth summit where nearly 300 youth took part in the survey and participated in activities that promoted moving safely throughout the District. Nearly 2,700 people participated in the survey to poll the top safety concerns to moving safely throughout the District. The public response to the crowdsourcing map and awareness events helped to determine strategies that were important to the public. Across all age groups and all eight wards, the top safety concerns the public identified were drivers speeding, distracted drivers, and travelers of all kinds ignoring traffic signals.
The public input was used to refine agency strategies. These strategies were later vetted through stakeholder groups, which consisted of pedestrian and bicycle advocate groups, who will later champion some strategies. Vetting the strategies through stakeholders was the last piece of the puzzle, even before making the strategies look pretty.
Robyn Jackson is a mid-level civil engineer. After beginning her career as a project manager in the vertical construction business, she took a leap of faith and moved cross-country from California to Washington, DC landing at Nspiregreen LLC where she is able to pursue her interests in transportation and act on her sense of responsibility to the environment.