Is Vision Zero Coming to Philadelphia?

The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia (BCGP) has pitched Vision Zero to the city in an attempt to keep drivers, bicyclists, and even pedestrians safer on the streets. Vision Zero is a road and traffic safety program that involves multiple departments from around a city to focus on saving lives, with the end goal of bringing traffic-related fatalities down to zero per year. The program was first launched in Sweden in 1997, where it was met with success. Realizing the potential of Vision Zero, cities all across the world chose to adopt it, including some here in the United States, such as Chicago, New York City, and Santa Barbara. Each participant holds the groundwork of the project in place but molds it to their particular needs.

If Philadelphia chooses to adopt Vision Zero, the plan would push for:

  • New policies and traffic regulations.
  • Widespread partnership between governing city departments.
  • Greater traffic and street safety education to the public.
  • Improve roadway designs and projects.

In particular, some of the most dangerous streets in Philadelphia would be targeted for immediate improvement. Most of these are around the heart of the city but could also include problem streets, such as North Broad Street, Frankford Avenue, and Roosevelt Boulevard.

Why is Vision Zero Necessary for Philadelphia?

According to studies compiled by the BCGP, including some conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a pedestrian accident happens in Philadelphia about once in every 5 hours; 40% of all traffic-related fatalities in the city in 2013 were pedestrians; and roughly $1 billion in taxpayer money is spent by the city each year in reaction to traffic accidents. Just a cursory glance at these few statistics – the BCGP’s Vision Zero project pitch lists many more – reveals that the danger of preventable traffic accidents within the city is dire.

Proponents for the plan argue that Vision Zero will ultimately cost taxpayers far less money than what traffic accidents are costing the city already. Furthermore, they argue that no amount of money spent is too much if it means saving someone’s life. In fact, that is the driving belief behind Vision Zero since the day it was conceived.

It is unclear at this juncture whether or not the city will opt into Vision Zero plans, or if it will take its own measures to correct traffic-related fatalities in the city. If you would like more information about what is going on, you can visit the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s website here. Our Philadelphia litigation attorneys at Sacks Weston LLC are greatly interested in how this ongoing story pans out, and you may be able to find updates here on our news feed.