The City of Seattle has launched a Vision Zero project, which aims to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030, through the use of innovative engineering, enforcement and education. Although Seattle is consistently recognized as one of the safest cities in the USA, more than 10,000 traffic collisions occur each year. In 2014, a total 3,449 collisions involving an injury were reported to the Seattle Police Department, with 15 deaths in traffic crashes, including five who were walking or riding a bike. At the core of the Vision Zero philosophy, is the belief that death and injury on city streets is preventable, with the approach emphasizing smarter street designs, leading to ‘forgiving’ streets that account for human error.
To make Seattle streets safer, the Vision Zero efforts in 2015 will include: reducing the speed limit in the downtown core to 25mph (40km/h); improving safety at 10 high-crash intersections downtown by eliminating turns on red lights, installing leading pedestrian intervals to give walkers a head start, eliminating dual turn lanes and other engineering improvements; installing 20mph (32km/h) zones on residential streets in up to 10 areas near parks and schools with documented collision histories; enhancing safety on arterials, where 90% of serious and fatal collisions occur, by installing speed reductions, radar speed signs and enhanced street designs; adding 12 new school zone safety cameras in six school zones to improve safety for children as they make their way to and from school; and adding seven miles (11km) of protected bike lanes, more than 40 crossing improvements, and 14 blocks of new sidewalk, to make travel safer across all modes.
Launching the program, Seattle’s Mayor, Ed Murray, said, “Our Vision Zero campaign will educate people who drive, bike and walk on how we can all work together to make our streets safer. We are rolling out a range of new safety improvements that will help get our kids get to school, reduce fatalities on city arterials and make our neighborhood streets safer. Our transportation system must work safely for everyone and this plan will save lives.” Tom Rasmussen, chairman of the Council’s Transportation Committee, added, “Implementing the Vision Zero initiative is vital to creating a safer transportation system. The way we design our streets, enforce the rules, and educate the public does make a difference. But, most importantly, each of us, whether we walk, bike or drive, must do our part to make our streets safer for all.”