BikePGH: Councilwoman Warwick Introduces Vision Zero Resolution to Eliminate Traffic Fatalities and Serious Injuries

Since our 2014 Member’s Meeting, Bike Pittsburgh has been pushing Pittsburgh’s mayors to adopt a policy toward zero traffic deaths. While other policy goals of ours such as a Complete Streets policy and a new bike plan were achieved in 2017 and 2020 respectively, we still lacked the bold policy goal of zero traffic fatalities until this week.

On Monday, March 4, Mayor Gainey answered our call and made a commitment to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries as part of his vision of making Pittsburgh the safest City in the country. This policy commitment, known as Vision Zero, is due to be supported by City Council, with the introduction of Councilperson Warwick’s Vision Zero Resolution.

At the core of Vision Zero is the recognition that these fatalities and serious injuries are, in fact, preventable. All humans make mistakes, so we need to design our streets in a way where the chances that someone will be maimed or killed because of that mistake is reduced. When this engineering is combined with a holistic approach including education, a change in processes and policy, encouragement, evaluation, and public safety, true gains can be made toward eliminating harm.

Additionally, a formal city commitment towards zero traffic fatalities will help open Pittsburgh up to even more Federal safety funds, as the Biden Administration has developed a National Roadway Safety Strategy to address what they refer to as a “national crisis” of the needless loss of more than 40,000 American lives per year.

Councilperson Warwick’s resolution begins with the standard legalese justifying why the bill is necessary with statistics and values.

WHEREAS, traffic deaths and serious injuries occur disproportionately in low-income communities, communities of color, and communities with low car ownership and disproportionately affect individuals with limited mobility, people with disabilities, and people who are unhoused, children, and the elderly

A sample from Councilperson Warwick’s Vision Zero Resolution

After addressing why this is necessary, the resolution gets into “how” the city will achieve this goal. This section sets specific actions that city departments and staff should take, however it still lacks a target date to by which to reach this goal of zero. The resolution is by no means comprehensive, but it outlines the first necessary steps to catalyze action. It will also inform the future Vision Zero Action Plan that the City, County and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission are developing with funds from President Biden’s federal infrastructure bill.

First, the resolution formally adopts the goal “of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on our roadways and endorses the Vision Zero strategy as a comprehensive and holistic approach to achieving this goal, while maintaining constant evaluation of programs and practices.”

Second, DOMI will create a Vision Zero Task Force comprised of individuals from various City departments “that may be expected to commit resources or take actions toward the objective of Vision Zero.” This is a standard step in making sure that all appropriate departments are collaborating toward the goal in their work through this new lens, as well as adopting new policies and procedures that are missing. We don’t know everything that will come of this, but a focus on the goal may yield some surprising results. For instance, they may determine that a policy banning right turn on reds should be implemented citywide. In another example in New York City, they realized that outfitting large city fleet and contracted vehicles with side-guards will improve safety results. Other cities have lowered speed limits.

The third section gets into how the city will use the newly launched High Injury Network (HIN) map as a guide for where focus street improvements, policy, and education resources, with an eye toward equity. The “Vision Zero Working Group shall create a Vision Zero Memorandum to commit City resources to the goal…while prioritizing the most vulnerable and dependent users of the most dangerous parts of the transportation network.”

The fourth and final step of the resolution directs DOMI to include a Vision Zero component in their biennial Complete Streets Report.

Earlier in the day on Monday, March 4, DOMI presented their first Biennial Complete Streets Report to Council, a requirement of the 2017 Complete Streets Policy, another major policy win that BikePGH campaigned on during the Peduto administration. The report is a snapshot on what the City is currently doing toward road traffic safety, what the City needs to do, and a large dose of statistics on what’s happening on the ground.

Behind the statistics are people – our families, friends, and neighbors. Each crash has a ripple effect that touches countless lives.

DOMI 2023 Complete Streets Biennial Report

Another aspect of the 2017 Complete Streets Policy included the formation of a Complete Streets Advisory Group (CSAG). The group dissolved, along with many things during the pandemic, but in 2023, DOMI and the Mayor resurrected it. The CSAG Engage Page will be the primary public-facing location to keep track of the progress toward Vision Zero. On the page, you can currently find the CSAG Biennial Report, the HIN Map, a list of planning documents, and past meeting minutes.

BikePGH is glad to see the Gainey Administration and City Council make this commitment to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Pittsburgh. Committing to zero deaths is good policy and help ensure that Pittsburgh families cease getting their lives upended by a mistake that could have been prevented in the first place.

Councilperson Warwick’s Vision Zero Resolution will be discussed in Council Chambers during their Standing Committee Meeting on Wednesday, March 13 at 10am. There is an opportunity for public comment at the beginning of the meeting (sign up here) to support the commitment to Vision Zero. If you would like more information about how to talk to Council, please contact us:

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