Pedestrian Accidents Highlight Need for “Vision Zero” Policy

We all want to get home safely.  Vision Zero is a holistic framework that allows us to assess, guide and improve traffic safety by taking into account the interaction of all aspects of the transportation system and application of the five Es of traffic safety:  engineering, education, enforcement, engagement and evaluation.

The core principles of Vision Zero are:

  • No loss of life is acceptable
  • Traffic fatalities and serious injuries are preventable
  • We all make mistakes
  • We are physically vulnerable when involved in motor vehicle collisions
  • Eliminating fatalities and serious injuries is a shared responsibility between road users and those who design and maintain our roadways

The effect of using this approach is evidenced in the City of Edmonton, which has focused on reducing fatalities/serious injuries on roads. In Edmonton in 2006, there were 8,246 people injured/killed in collisions on Edmonton streets. The City responded by creating the first municipal Office of Traffic Safety in North America that year. In spite of the City’s population growth since then, in 2015 there were 3,837 people injured or killed –  a decrease of 53.5%.

Can the City of Winnipeg do more?  Absolutely.  It’s time to make some much needed changes, because we all want to get home safely.

To learn more, visit these links:

My thanks to the Winnipeg Metro, CBC and Winnipeg Free Press for reporting on this initiative.

 


Pedestrian accidents highlight need for Vision Zero policy: councillor

Vision Zero hinges on the belief that “no loss of life is acceptable,” according to its website

Winnipeg Metro    By: Metro   Nov 14 2016 02:46:00

 

A pair of unrelated vehicle-pedestrian collisions Monday morning highlight a need for increased awareness and policies to reduce such accidents, one councillor says.

After two people were badly injured in different parts of the city, one killed, Coun. Janice Lukes broadcast to her Twitter followers that “increasing Vision Zero awareness-practices and policies” is “long overdue in Winnipeg,” but something she would be re-committing to.

Vision Zero is a Swedish approach to road safety adopted in many cities around the world—including Canadian cities like Vancouver and Edmonton—with the goal of reducing death and serious injuries on roadways to zero. Vision Zero policies could include reduced speed limits or brightly lit and pedestrian-triggered cross-walks.

“No loss of life is acceptable,” the initiative states on its website.

On Monday in Winnipeg, the driver of a semi-truck trailer struck a 56-year-old pedestrian at the intersection of Kenaston and McGillvray Boulevard. The man was taken to the hospital in critical condition and eventually succumbed to his injuries.

Before 8 a.m., the accident froze traffic and had “a number of witnesses who observed” the scene firsthand calling the police distraught.

“We were getting some calls… people who had seen this accident who were quite traumatized by it,” said Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) spokesperson Const. Rob Carver.

Across town, shortly after the first accident, another pedestrian was hit by a vehicle at the corner of Morley Avenue and Osborne Street around 8:20 a.m. The pedestrian was taken to hospital and their condition is unknown.

Carver stressed that the two incidents were “absolutely coincidence,” but Lukes said that doesn’t mean they’re totally unrelated, as the city doesn’t do “everything we can to improve pedestrian safety.”

“Could we do more? Absolutely,” she said.

Lukes attended a Vision Zero seminar when she was at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike active transportation conference in Vancouver, and has been familiar with it as a movement for years.

She said was planning to host an information forum with an expert to teach residents and her council colleagues about Vision Zero before the most recent accidents happened, but they punctuate something she believes to be true.

“We can make the (transportation) system better. We can make it safer,” she said. “When you have a road that’s equal for all, everyone wins.”

She explained how “horrible tragedies” on Winnipeg’s roadways can be reduced with a combination of political will, policy changes for safety, and strategic investment.

“You’ve got to have a goal… Sweden has seen over 50 per cent reduction (in fatalities) with this approach… if we shift more to that and we see 10, 15, 20 per cent less, how great would that be?” she said.

Lukes believes that with vision-zero-friendly initiatives, the city could work towards that kind of goal – and now’s the time to do it.

“We’re seeing a lot more distracted driving, a lot of speed… Those are deadly,” she said.

“I’m working with the Vision Zero folks hoping to do an education event soon… it’s time.”


Vision Zero: Winnipeg councillor pushes city to adopt no-deaths traffic plan

Janice Lukes advocates for Swedish traffic safety initiative that changes roads to slow drivers

By Samantha Samson, CBC News Posted: Nov 16, 2016 7:56 AM CT

 

An increase in Manitoba road fatalities has one Winnipeg city councillor looking at zeroes.

Coun. Janice Lukes wants Winnipeg to implement Vision Zero, a traffic safety initiative created in Sweden in 1994 that has a mandate of achieving zero fatalities on roads.

“Our city is getting bigger, we’ve got more development of downtown, and people want to walk and bike more because it’s physically and mentally beneficial to them,” the St. Norbert councillor said.

“Even if the first step is to really refine how we look at intersections on a design perspective, that would be a positive step.”

There have been 98 road deaths in Manitoba in 2016, Manitoba Public Insurance reports — a dramatic increase over the 78 fatalities in 2015.

Motor vehicle collisions have killed 53 pedestrians from 2011 to 2015, and 79 per cent of pedestrian injuries and fatalities happen in Winnipeg, an MPI spokesperson said.

Lukes said Vision Zero has achieved massive success in other cities, and she wants to see the same in Winnipeg.

Edmonton incorporated the Vision Zero mandate into its road safety strategy for 2016-20.

The Alberta city has made traffic safety a priority since 2006, said Gerry Shimko, executive director of Edmonton’s office of traffic safety.

Shimko has helped implement infrastructure changes based on Vision Zero’s ideals, including narrowing roadways so drivers don’t feel like they can speed through or creating communities where the speed limit is 40 km/hour.

Design roads to lessen risk

“Speed management is the key,” Shimko said. “How you manage it through enforcement is one way, but over time, the research is saying look at designing your systems so pedestrians are less at risk and the drivers feel these are speeds they should comply with.”

Edmonton city council has taken a broad approach to traffic safety. In 2011, the city funded an urban traffic safety research chair in the faculty of engineering at the University of Alberta. The program is producing highly trained students who can help shape the city, and the data on which Shimko and his team base their infrastructure changes is local, he said.

Lukes, who recently was removed from city council’s executive policy committee, said she’ll use the time she will no longer spend on EPC to work on bringing Vision Zero to Winnipeg, starting with a January information session on the initiative.

“It’s something that’s long overdue,” she said. “Transportation is the key to our prosperity and movement, so we need to find that balance, but the roads have been designed for the vehicle. Now we have to take the roads and design them so they’re equitable for all.”


Road fatalities in Manitoba up from last year

 

When you answer your doorbell and open your door, RCMP Sgt. Mark Hume is not the person you want to see.

Hume, who has worked in the RCMP’s traffic services unit for a decade and investigated collisions for 12 years, has been called to many vehicle crashes through his career.

It also means Hume has gone to a lot of doors and been the face of tragedy for many families.

“We talk a lot about numbers,” he said on Wednesday.

“I tell the students we have to remember this is someone’s family out there. The vast majority of murders and manslaughters are not stereotyped whodunnits, but are usually connected to crimes like drug dealer activities.

“But four times that number are people killed on the highway and they are not living a high risk drug lifestyle as a criminal. They are innocent.

“You have no control when a vehicle is speeding at you.”

Hume said he knocks on the door when a loved one has done something dumb on the road, been drunk behind the wheel, didn’t put their seatbelt on, or just happened to be driving in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Manitoba roads have already claimed 98 fatalities this year, up from 78 in 2015. The grim statistics were noted during Wednesday’s annual National Day of Remembrance for road crash victims.

But what that means is an officer like Hume, whether they are with the RCMP, Winnipeg police, or another law enforcement agency in the province, is the one who has to break the tragic news to a family member who usually suspect nothing before their lives change forever.

“I prepare myself for the reaction,” Hume said.

“It can be overwhelming grief. It can be disbelief and I have to persuade them it is true. And sometimes people get violent and lash out at you.”

Hume recalled one shocked father, who had just been told his wife and 15-year-old daughter had died just minutes before when the rookie driver failed to yield at an intersection, surprised him with his question.

“He looked at me and said ‘What do I do now?'” the officer said.

“I said you need to go to the hospital to be with your son who also was injured. I remember every bit about that – it has stuck with me for 16 years.”

Hume said in rural areas, where word can travel fast and fatal collisions may have occurred just a few kilometres away from the home the motorist was travelling to, family members can suddenly show up at the scene.

“I’ve had to restrain and tackle people to prevent them from coming to the car,” he said. “That’s not the last memory we want them to see.

“It’s a lasting memory that would stay with people.”

But Hume said there are things motorists can do so they can reduce their chances of being a statistic. From being a fatality on a highway somewhere. From having their loved ones have to answer a police officer’s knock.

“I tell people not to drunk drive, follow the speed limit, put on your seat belt,” he said.

“If you do all that you reduce the number of crashes. And, because the vast majority of rollovers are survivable if you have a seatbelt on, wear one.”

Meanwhile, a couple of things are being done to reduce the number of collisions.

One is that a survey by the Tire and Rubber Association of Canada has found that half of Manitobans are now using winter tires, up from about 39 per cent in 2014. The association says advances in tread design and rubber formulations mean people can brake faster in cold temperatures.

And Coun. Janice Lukes (St. Norbert) is spearheading a move to bring a traffic safety initiative to Winnipeg.

Lukes said Vision Zero, a program initiated in Sweden and now used in Edmonton, has a mandate to reduce the number of road fatalities to zero.

“It takes political will to do this,” she said.

“Intersections are where most collisions occur and there are many ways to improve them. You could make the island in the middle larger for pedestrians. If more people are going to live in Winnipeg and it grows more dense you want people to be able to cross streets safely.”

Lukes said she considers the pilot projects in her ward, using speed tables instead of speed bumps, concepts that would be considered part of Vision Zero. They are wider than speed bumps and stretch across only one lane with another one stretching across the other lane further down the street.

“It slows down traffic, but doesn’t slow down the emergency vehicles – that’s why they are staggered,” she said.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca
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