Washington, DC–Last week, Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Vern Buchanan, Co-Chairs of the Congressional Bike Caucus, introduced H.R. 1274, the Vision Zero Act of 2015. Communities across the country are recognizing that there is only one number of acceptable deaths on our streets: zero. “Vision Zero” is the goal of eliminating all transportation-related fatalities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, motorists and passengers. Cities from New York to Los Angeles are implementing interagency Vision Zero plans connecting engineering, education, and enforcement, to reach the goal of ending transportation deaths.
There is a strong need for safer communities:
Being struck by a motor vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14.
Being struck by a motor vehicle is the second leading cause of injury-related death for seniors.
A person hit by a car while crossing the street has a 5% chance of death if the car is going 20 mph. If the car is going 40 mph, chance of death is 70%.
Lower-income neighborhoods have much higher pedestrian fatality rates than higher-income areas.
Fatalities on our roadways have declined overall, but the number of pedestrians killed annually rose 16% from 2009 to 2014.
The Vision Zero Act creates two grant programs within the Department of Transportation to award money to communities to develop and implement Vision Zero. $5 million a year is set aside for planning grants to help communities draft the Vision Zero plan required for implementation funding. $25 million a year will be awarded to five communities for implementation of a written and officially adopted Vision Zero plan. 25% of the annual funding must be awarded to eligible entities with a population of 200,000 people or fewer.
“Bicycling has come a long way since I founded the Bike Caucus in 1996—there are many more riders, cycling is a booming industry and safety has increased dramatically,” said Rep. Earl Blumenauer. “But when well over 1,000 bicyclists and pedestrians are killed or seriously injured each year, we can do much better. I’m excited to introduce the Vision Zero Act with my new Bike Caucus partner Mr. Buchanan as a way to make streets safer for all users, especially the most vulnerable ones. We should no longer accept bicycle and pedestrian fatalities as harsh reality, and the Vision Zero Act gives us the tools to reverse this trend. I look forward to helping make streets safer for all users from Sarasota to Portland.”
“As Co-Chairman of the Congressional Bike Caucus, I am committed to ensuring the safety of pedestrians and cyclists." Rep. Vern Buchanan said. "I am proud to introduce this worthy legislation with my friend Mr. Blumenauer that will move us closer towards the goal of zero pedestrian and cyclist fatalities." Buchanan stressed the importance of HR 1274for public safety and noted that his hometown newspaper, the Sarasota Herald Tribune, recently editorialized on the issue.”
“I applaud Rep. Blumenauer’s leadership. One death on our roadways is one too many. That’s why we have adopted Vision Zero,” said Leah Treat, Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. “People of all ages and abilities deserve safe streets that support multimodal uses. We appreciate Congress’ support to help cities across the country develop and implement comprehensive safety programs that will not only save lives, but add to the resiliency of the urban environment.”
“The culture around traffic safety that accepts 33,000 deaths annually as unfortunate but inevitable needs to change,” said Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “Vision Zero is a game-changing policy approach that starts with the assumption that no fatal traffic crash is acceptable -- which is why the League of American Bicyclists wholeheartedly endorses and welcomes the introduction of the Vision Zero Act by Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Vern Buchanan.”
"Every person should have equal access to safe, walkable communities, in order to access every day needs and destination. America Walks supports the Vision Zero Act as a starting place to creating this reality," said Director Scott Bricker of America Walks.
“AAA supports Reps. Blumenauer and Buchanan’s efforts to focus attention on reducing the number of deaths on the nation’s roadways by introducing the Vision Zero Act,” said AAA Federal Affairs Director Avery Ash. “Recent findings from the annual AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety Culture index indicate that more than five in six drivers support their state adopting a vision to reduce the number of people killed in crashes to zero – this legislation is a step in the right direction. We look forward to working with Rep. Blumenauer and Rep. Buchanan to improve the community action safety plans that will ultimately lead to saving lives.”
The Vision Zero Act is supported by AAA, Alliance for Biking and Walking, America Walks, American Planning Association (APA), American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), City of Portland, League of American Bicyclists, National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), National Association of Realtors, PeopleForBikes, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Transportation for America, Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA).