On June 25, the Berkeley City Council approved the City Budget for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021. Public safety takes center stage in the budget. After a string of high-profile car crashes involving pedestrians, efforts were made to prioritize funding to implement Vision Zero and for multiple traffic safety improvements, making the streets safer and more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists. Read more about the budget →
Vision Zero is about creating a culture of traffic safety using a data-driven approach. Specifically, it focuses on the “Three E’s”: Engineering, Enforcement, and Education.
Engineering: Redesigning existing streets with traffic calming and pedestrian improvements.
Enforcement: Take a proactive approach on addressing the five violations that cause the most injuries/fatalities. These are violations of the pedestrian right-of-way, speeding, red light violation, stop sign violation and yield-while-turning violation.
Education: Increase public awareness of laws and violations, and highlighting human consequences of these actions, in order to change people’s driving behaviors.
It is a tried and true policy that first originated in Sweden in 1997. Since its implementation, traffic deaths in that country have plummeted by 70%. In recent years, major cities across the United States have begun adopting this policy, including San Francisco in 2014. Last year, Mayor Arreguín cosponsored legislation to make Berkeley a Vision Zero City [PDF]. We have stepped up implementation efforts in recent months, with the creation of a Vision Zero Task Force [PDF]
Between 2012-2016, Berkeley on average experienced 3 fatalities and 31 serious injuries annually as a result of traffic collisions. While pedestrians and bicyclists are involved in only 7% of crashes, they account for a third of the fatalities. It does not and should not have to be this way, which is why we are taking proactive steps to address pedestrian safety.
An estimated 17% of Berkeley commuters walk to work, with 10% biking. Under the Climate Action Plan, we want to encourage alternative forms of transportation. But one key issue as to why people choose not to bike and walk given the opportunity to do so is because of safety concerns. Both the Bicycle Plan and the proposed updates to the Pedestrian Master Plan prioritize the need to address these concerns.
The Vision Zero Task Force will be looking at best practices and will present their findings and recommendations in a report to the City Council this fall.