By Shelia Dunn, NMA Communications Director, and writer of the Keep the US Moving Blog.
When did traffic safety become the purview of Big Bike and Vision Zero? In my experience, many motorists are hybrids: motorist/pedestrian, motorist/bicyclist, etc. The collective “We” are absolutely concerned about traffic safety. But why does it then feel like it is an “Us vs. Them” mentality?
Vision Zero seems to have clogged up the idea of personal responsibility. The goal of not ever having a traffic death is laudable, no doubt. To accuse anyone driving a car as the instigator of the “crash” is not. Common sense dictates that everyone has a responsibility for traffic safety—their own and others who use the road.
Just like everything else in this county, it seems the polarization surrounding the issue of who is most responsible for road safety is not helping anyone. In the past six months, at least 10 Vision Zero cities have reported that more pedestrian/bicyclist deaths have occurred than the year previous.
Nearly every day, Big Bike and VZ proponents call for an immediate arrest of any driver involved in a traffic accident even though the police are obligated to investigate before determining responsibility. Of course, every death is a tragedy but why has the rhetoric been pushed to such heights? No one should ever trade on a family’s tragedy to score ideological or political points.
The Toronto Sun recently ran an editorial called: Vision Zero has turned into another City Hall industry. I have to agree. Twelve city staffers currently work on the city’s VZ plan while other transportation units help support the effort and add to taxpayer cost.
In the past three years, Toronto spent $109.6 million on the goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities. The city implemented road diets by adding bike and bus lanes. It also dotted the streets with traffic calming measures. The largest Canadian city, with nearly three million residents, subcontracts much of its traffic enforcement to for-profit red-light and speed camera companies that feast on speed limits that have been lowered on 237 kilometers (or 147.3 miles) of roads.
The writer of the Sun article, Sue-Ann Levy, says it seems many lanes have been reduced to turtle speed. Traffic congestion is rampant, and frustrated drivers are struggling to get anywhere in the city by car.
Does this fallout, born of blind devotion to Vision Zero, seem like common sense to anyone?