“Vision Zero” Plan, Which Aims to Eliminate Traffic Fatalities, Approved By City Council

The San Diego City Council approved a plan aimed at making the city more pedestrian and bike-friendly and eliminating traffic deaths by 2025 on Monday. 

In the past two years, city officials said, traffic-related crashes have claimed twice as many lives as homicides in San Diego. 

"Vision Zero," considered by some an ambitious plan, was approved unanimously by every councilmember present, except for David Alvarez, who was not present. 

 The cost to get the changes going has been estimated to cost approximately $15 million, and the decision did not come without questions about implementation and budgeting. 

Councilmember Todd Gloria said he is on board with the plan, and wants to never see accidents like this again. 

"The question is implementation," Gloria said. "What I would like to have seen today is more concrete steps to do that."

One concern, however, is funding. 

"If we're really trying to do the transformational change that San Diegans expect from us and now we've committed to 'Vision Zero' and making sure no one is killed in our intersection is, we're going to need a whole lot more money," Gloria said. 

Kathleen Ferrior of Circulate San Diego, an activist group advocating for 'Vision Zero', agreed that Gloria made some good comments. 

"I would like to be in that place where he was talking about, where transportation is making a presentation on 'Vision Zero', where money is allocated already for infrastructure," Ferrior said. "This is a step by step process."

Victims of traffic accidents were at the meeting Tuesday, including Carol Lord, who nearly lost her foot when a hit-and-run driver struck her.

"Vision Zero" passing meant a lot to Lord. She said it's been a great day for cyclists and pedestrians. 

"I wanted to make this something more than what it was," Lord said of the crash she was involved in. "Because I'm one of many victims of cycling versus car collisions." 

Juniper Aavang was killed in March as her father pushed her in a stroller through a crosswalk at the intersection of Catalina and Cannon in Point Loma.

A prime example of why Jim Stone, Executive Director of Circulate San Diego, says it's time to slow traffic down on city streets.

“We know that if someone is hit by a car going 40 miles per hour they have a 20 percent chance of surviving a crash. So we want to slow things down to a safer speed."

Allison Street next to La Mesa City Hall provides a blueprint of sorts. Diagonal parking lines reduce the size of the street. Stone says studies show smaller streets help slow traffic. Then there's the crosswalk with lights on the ground and signs that alert drivers when someone crosses. The curb extension also provides better visibility.

“They can see cars coming but more importantly the cars can see them coming,” Stone said about the curb extensions. “So it’s a great way to improve pedestrian safety."

Organizers of the plan say the next steps include forming a task force and an action plan. They want to begin tackling infrastructure, education and enforcement. 

"We have a lot of work to do still, this is the first of many steps that have to take place to make sure we have safer streets in our neighborhood," said Ferrier. 

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