Is Vision Zero just a vision, or will there be action?

After a string of people biking were killed on Washington, DC’s streets, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) organized a rally to press the Mayor and her administration to make good on their commitment to ending traffic deaths. Here are what some of the rally goers had to say and some actions you can take.

Three years ago, Washington, DC adopted a Vision Zero policy, pledging to eliminate the scourge of traffic deaths on DC’s streets. Three dozens cities around the country—from San Antonio, TX to Anchorage, AK—have adopted such goals, recognizing that these deaths are preventable; one death is too many. With slower vehicle speeds and street designs that enable everyone to use public streets safely, deaths and serious injuries can be prevented.

But as with so many issues, it takes more than adopting a policy to realize a goal; it takes action. Traffic deaths are again on the rise nationwide, particularly among people walking. In the three years since DC passed its Vision Zero policy, more than 100 people have died on the city’s streets. Earlier this month, two people—Jeffrey Hammond Long (36) and Malik Habib (19)—were killed in just two weeks while biking in the District. In response, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) organized a rally outside the offices of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, pressing her administration to take more direct, concerted action to protect people on the streets:

Staff from Smart Growth America’s DC office were able to attend the rally, and we spoke with some people about why they were there. Here are a few of their responses:

No loss of life is acceptable—that’s the idea behind Vision Zero and what those at the WABA rally were demanding of their government.

Here are two ways you can take action on related issues:

  1. Make a contribution to support the production of Dangerous by Design 2018, a highly cited report that highlights the most dangerous places for people walking. This report has spurred many communities to take action by implementing Complete Streets policies and adjusting their transportation planning processes. For example, Dangerous by Design 2016 spurred the State of Florida to rewrite its highway design guidelines.
  2. Donate now

  3. America Walks has created a helpful template letter that you can customize and send to news outlets that blame rising traffic deaths on the victims with claims of “distracted walking.” These articles are misleading and ignore the real problems: “Poor street design, improper speeds, and a culture that prioritizes cars over people.”