Chicago — The City of Chicago is launching Vision Zero Chicago, a data-driven, multi-agency approach designed to improve traffic safety for all road users — whether in vehicles, on bikes or on foot. Vision Zero will reduce the number of roadway crashes with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Chicago by 2026.
“Every day someone is injured or worse as the result of a car crash on Chicago’s streets – and that is simply unacceptable,” Mayor Emanuel said. “These crashes are preventable, and that is why we are stepping up our efforts, developing partnerships with communities and private industry. We are going to use all the resources at our disposal to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Chicago.”
The city will release a three-year Vision Zero Action Plan in the fall of 2016. The plan will look at traffic safety as a public health issue and identify priorities for the city’s engineering and education initiatives, as well as enforcement support for reducing crashes. City departments are currently working with stakeholders and the public to develop the final goals and strategies included in the plan.
The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has long-used crash data in planning engineering improvements, but this process will be strengthened under Vision Zero.
“The Chicago Department of Transportation is committed to prioritizing safety and protecting the public,” CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld said. “Our goal is to provide a transportation network that is safe for all people, whether they are driving in vehicles, walking or biking. Through Vision Zero Chicago, we will be collaborating with other City departments and community partners to create an Action Plan to help us achieve our goal.”
In 2016, more than 100 intersections will receive additional infrastructure to make it safer for people walking to cross the street. Among these is a Safe Routes to School project on the West Side that has installed 10 pedestrian refuge islands along Madison Street and Chicago Avenue. There are 10 schools located within a half-mile of these high crash areas. The city is also enhancing safety by making traffic signal improvements, resurfacing hundreds of miles of streets, installing speed feedback signs, and adding or improving 25 miles of bike lanes this year.
Education of all roadway users is another important component of the Vision Zero Action Plan. The initiative will encourage community engagement on traffic safety and outreach to private industry partners.
“Traffic crashes are not only a transportation concern, but a public health issue,” Commissioner of Public Health Julie Morita, M.D. said. “That’s why Vision Zero is a key component of our Healthy Chicago 2.0 plan to improve health equity across Chicago. CDPH is working to better understand the behaviors and conditions that are present in high crash areas, so we can help make lasting improvements in our neighborhoods that will in turn save lives.”
This summer, the city continued its safety education and outreach efforts, distributing information about safer driving practices at block parties, festivals, community events and traffic stops. Targeted Police enforcement at crosswalks also continued in locations that have recorded high numbers of pedestrian fatalities. With Vision Zero, the city will engage communities through events at schools, senior centers, and CAPS meetings throughout Chicago.
“The Chicago Police Department is committed to working with the public on Vision Zero Chicago,” CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson said. “We plan to engage the community and work with nonprofits, the private sector, and other city departments on improving traffic safety.”
“We’re thrilled to see this Vision Zero process moving forward, shining a spotlight on the need to keep everyone on our streets safe, particularly the most vulnerable users on foot and on bike,” Ron Burke, Executive Director of the Active Transportation Alliance said. “No loss of life on our streets is acceptable, and there are proven strategies to prevent crashes and ultimately eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Now all the relevant city agencies can work with advocates, community leaders and the public to get it done.”
Vision Zero Chicago involves the coordinated efforts of 10 city departments working at the direction of the Mayor’s Office. Earlier this year, Chicago was named as one of 10 Focus Cities asked to participate in a new national program designed to advance Vision Zero, an international movement to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries among all road users. The approach recognizes that the challenges and opportunities to improve safe mobility are similar across cities. By collaborating closely with other Focus Cities, Chicago we will be part of a national effort to develop and share best practices aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries caused by traffic crashes.