Vision Zero is an international effort to eliminate traffic related deaths and serious injuries. Vision Zero was founded in Sweden over 20 years ago and has since spread to cities across the globe.
The City of Minneapolis passed a City Council Resolution committing to reducing traffic related deaths and serious injuries in September 2017. This summer, the City hired a Vision Zero Coordinator* and began to work out the details around how Vision Zero will work in Minneapolis.
What’s going on in Minneapolis right now?
On January 22nd, 2019 Public Works staff from the City of Minneapolis presented an overview of Vision Zero Minneapolis and the Vision Zero Crash Study to the City’s Transportation and Public Works (TPW) Committee. This presentation marked the launch of the City’s planning process for the Vision Zero Action Plan.
Some highlights from Public Works staff’s presentation to the City’s Transportation and Public Works Committee include:
- Acknowledgement that pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users
- Reducing traffic speeds and addressing crashes caused by turning vehicles are essential strategies in reducing death and serious injury
- The City’s data show that Native Americans are disproportionately impacted
- Four-lane undivided roads are the least safe
If you’d like to dive into the details of this meeting, check out this video of the proceedings.
How does this plan fit in with all the City’s other plans?
The Vision Zero Action Plan is rooted in the overarching vision and policy goals of the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan. It’s being developed along the same timeline as the City’s Transportation Action Plan.
The guiding principles for the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan were developed in partnership with City staff and through an Advisory Committee that included representation from Our Streets Minneapolis.
The guiding principles include:
- Safety and human life first
These principles will guide potential actions in the following areas:
- Street design and infrastructure
- Traffic speed management
- Traffic safety education
- Communications and engagement
- Using and improving relevant data
- Traffic safety enforcement
What are we looking out for?
One significant concern with the launch of the Vision Zero Action Plan is traffic enforcement is included as one of the six potential actions. This means one potential result of this plan is that there could be increased police enforcement of existing traffic laws.
Including equity as a guiding principle for Vision Zero is contradictory to continued reliance on traffic enforcement as a strategy in Vision Zero. We think the City should focus on equity over enforcement. We were vocal about this as part of the Advisory Committee that developed the guiding principles above.
It’s not the first time we raised our voices about this issue. At Our Streets Minneapolis, we advocated that the City eliminate enforcement as a part of Vision Zero in the Minneapolis 2040 plan because we know that enforcement amplifies racial disparities and there are many other proven safety strategies the City can implement.
While the City took out language about enforcement from the Vision Zero section of Minneapolis 2040, along with details about other strategies, it’s back now as more details about the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan emerge.
Tension between enforcement and equity aren’t unique to Minneapolis. Yet right now Minneapolis has a unique opportunity to challenge the Vision Zero framework and listen carefully to community, especially community harmed by traffic enforcement.
How can I be involved?
Engagement opportunities are kicking off in early February and will continue throughout 2019, with a final Vision Zero Action Plan being approved by the Minneapolis City Council in early 2020.
Interested in staying up to date on the planning process, engagement opportunities, and more? Sign up for updates to stay informed, and influence the way our City approaches the Vision Zero Action Plan.
*The Vision Zero Coordinator for the City of Minneapolis is Ethan Fawley, the former Executive Director of Our Streets Minneapolis.