Winnipeg Moving Forward on Road Safety Strategy

I’m extremely pleased my Motion to direct the Winnipeg Public Service to develop a Road Safety Strategy based on the principles of Vision Zero is moving forward!

It’s positive news that the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works understands the significance of developing a ‘made for Winnipeg’ road safety strategy. The Federal government is basing Canada’s road safety strategy on international best practices called Vision Zero, and terming the approach ‘Towards Zero’.

After some tweaking by the Public Works Committee to incorporate Canada’s approach, the final version of the Motion reads as follows:

WHEREAS the government of Canada has a road safety strategy, published in January of 2016 known as Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025 – Towards Zero: The Safest Roads in the World (called “Towards Zero”),

AND WHEREAS Towards Zero is based on an international best practice called Vision Zero,

AND WHEREAS the City of Winnipeg currently utilizes best Canadian practices in road safety taking into consideration Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators and Transportation Association of Canada recommendations,

AND WHEREAS it would be advisable for the City of Winnipeg to have a Road Safety Strategy,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Standing Policy Committee on Infrastructure Renewal and Public Works direct the Winnipeg Public Service to create a road safety strategy which takes into consideration the principles of “Towards Zero” and report back within 365 days.


You Are Invited to Learn More!  On Monday, January 30, I am hosting a panel discussion on road safety with leading experts in Vision Zero and transportation.  Learn about Sweden’s Vision Zero approach to road safety, and how other Canadian cities are moving forward with a similar approach in developing their Road Safety Strategies. This informative session at the Millennium Library is open to the public.  For all the details, please visit: Vision Zero Forum.

My thanks to Metro News and Winnipeg Free Press for reporting on this important initiative.

Winnipeg’s top engineer says Vision Zero something to ‘strive towards’

Metro News   By:     Wed Jan 11 2017

Road safety in Winnipeg is set to evolve from “look twice before crossing the street’” to “look twice before building the street,” as city council has ordered a new strategy that will put the onus on the transportation network itself to protect vulnerable users.

Transportation manager Luis Escobar said he still needs to consult committee members to “flesh out a little bit what their expectations are,” but he believes the request is a “positive action.”

“It brings more awareness to (road safety),” he said. “From the political point of view, it shows that they (councillors) are aware of and they understand the importance of road safety. We all understand road safety is important, but sometimes we take it for granted.

“Council asking we create a road safety strategy puts the spotlight on road safety.”

Escobar explained that regardless of what forms the new policy, one thing it will achieve is adding an extra box to check for transportation infrastructure projects.

“When we evaluate infrastructure projects, one element we evaluate is, ‘Is this consistent with or supported by council-approved policy?’” he said. “Now we’ll have that question, ‘is this infrastructure project supported by this (road safety) strategy?’”

Escobar clarified that the advent of a road safety strategy in Winnipeg will not be the first time projects had to pass that test, as “higher levels of government have come up with direction for road safety” the city already had to adhere to.

He points to various projects – like traffic-calming roundabouts installed in residential areas in 2010 – as examples of safety-enhancing initiatives the city has already undertaken.

But he added that, locally, a standalone strategy will put extra emphasis on designing a fail-safe system.

“It gives more teeth, more weight to a number of projects driven specifically for road safety,” Escobar said.

He believes the strategy development will most likely be done in-house, though depending on councillors’ expectations it may require “additional resources.”

During the next year, he said stakeholder consultation and collision data analysis will help inform much of the strategy, as will the international model of road safety best practice called Vision Zero.

Part of Lukes’ inspiration in pushing for the strategy is Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025–Towards Zero, which is based on Vision Zero ideology.

Rebecca Peterniak, a road safety specialist who will speak at a Vision Zero forum Lukes is hosting Jan. 30, said the key principal is “wherever people might fail, the road system shouldn’t.”

The “zero” in Vision Zero stands for zero deaths, which is a goal Escobar is prepared to work into the city’s new strategy.

“The idea from our point of view is to prevent a collision, and if you can’t prevent it, you want to make sure you minimize the injury, that’s the approach,” he said. “Ideally we will get to a point where if there is a breakdown in the transportation system, the injury is going to be eliminated.

“That’s something we’ll strive towards when it comes to road safety.”

City hall on track to developing road safety strategy

Councillor says Winnipeg needs a comprehensive plan to make city streets safer

Metro News    By: Metro    Jan 10 2017

City hall has taken the first step to developing a road safety strategy for Winnipeg.

On Tuesday, councillors on the infrastructure renewal and public works committee voted in favour of having city staff create a road safety strategy within a year.

“This is exactly what I’d hope for,” Coun. Janice Lukes, who pitched the committee on the ideas, said after the meeting.

“This is excellent.”

She explained the city needs a comprehensive strategy to prioritize spending and better focus on specific ways to make roads safer.

Lukes citied Manitoba Public Insurance’s reported increase in road deaths from 2015 to 2016, higher rates of distracted driving and the upcoming legalization of pot as reasons why the city needs a robust road safety plan.

The committee voted for public works staff to develop a strategy that aligns with the principles of Towards Zero, Canada’s version of Vision Zero, which is a Swedish approach to road safety based on the belief collisions are preventable.

Lukes anticipates the strategy will focus heavily on education and require collaboration with the province, the Winnipeg Police Service and Manitoba Public Insurance.

The plan needs community consultation, she added.

Lukes expects that with adoption of a new policy, the city will have to set aside extra funds for transportation engineering improvements to promote road safety.

“Road safety is extremely serious and why wouldn’t we?”

City strives to cut number of traffic fatalities to zero

A civic committee instructed the administration Tuesday to develop a road safety strategy designed to eliminate all traffic fatalities.

“No deaths are acceptable,” said Coun. Marty Morantz, chairman of council’s public works committee. “We need to be striving towards zero (fatalities).”

Prompted by a proposal from St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes, the committee instructed the public works department to develop a strategy designed to eliminate all traffic fatalities on Winnipeg streets.

Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert) said she was pleased the committee endorsed her suggestion, adding she expects it will involve a public consultation process and a greater emphasis by the city to improve existing roadways identified as problematic.

Lukes had been pushing city hall to adopt a Swedish strategy, known as Vision Zero, which has been embraced by many countries and other Canadian municipalities.

However, at the suggestion of Morantz, the committee wants city staff to develop a strategy based on a federal government initiative, known as Towards Zero, which is also based on the Swedish initiative.

Lukes dismissed the significance of the name change, adding the objective is the same – to eliminate traffic fatalities.

“Road safety is extremely serious,” Lukes said

Officials in the public works department said it will take at least a year to develop the strategy, which Morantz said he hoped will be eventually adopted and approved by city council.

City staff said Winnipeg already follows international best practices when it comes to designing roadways and the proof is the number of traffic fatalities on city streets compared to the rest of the province.

Luis Escobar, the city’s manager of transportation, said while the majority of the provincial population resides in Winnipeg, the city has only a small portion of traffic deaths.

Manitoba Public Insurance said there were 112 traffic fatalities across the province in 2016, with 20 of those occurring in Winnipeg; for 2015, there were 79 traffic fatalities province wide, with 13 deaths in Winnipeg. Data provided by Manitoba Public Insurance shows that while the province averaged 79 traffic deaths annually in the years 2010-2014, Winnipeg averaged 15 traffic deaths annually during the same time period.

“We are doing a lot of things to improve road safety and that’s reflected in the level of injury and level of fatality compared to other cities across Canada,” Escobar told the public works committee. He said the city and city staff are members of national and international road safety committees

Escobar noted measures designed to minimize accidents and fatalities, such as: traffic signal poles with break-away bases, which minimize the severity of injury during collision; the installation of pedestrian count-down signals at high-priority intersections; road safety audits.

Lukes is holding a public seminar on traffic safety at the end of the month at the Millennium Library. She’s bringing in experts to talk about the Swedish plan and what steps cities need to take in roadway design and other initiatives to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities.

Manitoba traffic fatalities

2016: Manitoba 112; Winnipeg 20

2015: Manitoba 69; Winnipeg 13

2014: Manitoba 64; Winnipeg 11

2013: Manitoba 69; Winnipeg 11

2012: Manitoba 89; Winnipeg 19   Read more by Aldo Santin.

Vision zero forum to be hosted in Winnipeg

By:    Winnipeg Metro    Published on Mon Dec 05 2016 

Sometimes vehicles hit people, and sometimes those people are either badly injured or killed—but it doesn’t have to be that way, according to one local expert who will speak on a road safety panel in Winnipeg on January 30.

Rebecca Peterniak, a Winnipeg-based road-safety specialist with an interest in accommodating vulnerable road users, said evidence drawn from best-practice shows “injuries and fatalities are preventable.”

rebecca peterniak

Rebecca Peterniak, a Winnipeg-based road-safety specialist, said Vision Zero cities accept road safety issues as nothing less than a “health epidemic,” and then address them accordingly through a proactive approach.  (Braeden Jones, Metro)


It may seem farfetched, given the innate fallibility of all road users, but Peterniak said that’s old-school thinking.

“It’s the responsibility of transportation system providers to allow for that error and build a road system that (minimizes) the outcome of mistakes so they don’t result in people dying,” she said.

“Basically, wherever people might fail, the road system shouldn’t.”

That sentiment is at the core of Vision Zero, a road safety concept from Sweden that takes a zero tolerance approach to traffic deaths, effectively cutting them by half since the late ‘90s.

Peterniak has authored two papers on Vision Zero and held a workshop on the subject at the 2016 Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Conference in June.

She said Vision Zero cities accept road safety issues as nothing less than a “health epidemic,” and then addresses them accordingly through a proactive approach.

“How you’re building your roads, maintaining your roads, what types of modes of transportation are prioritized… how you’re protecting (vulnerable users)… there are a lot of things you can do for road safety,” she said.

“There is always more that can be done.”

She said Vision Zero thinking is relatively new to Canada, but “gaining traction rapidly.”

The Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) worked Vision Zero ideals into Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025 in January 2016, which Peterniak said provided a “framework municipalities can use to develop their own strategies locally.”

Major Canadian cities including Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver have all since publicly attached their own safety strategies to Vision Zero, but each still has work to do.

“Becoming a ‘Vision Zero jurisdiction’ happens on a spectrum,” Peterniak said.

“Adoption is the first phase … that comes with developing a policy statement to say, ‘we support this vision,’ but implementation is later, that’s what it looks like in practice.”

The implementation part is where Vision Zero really starts to matter, according to Vision Zero Canada’s executive director, Graham Larkin, who cautions against claiming Vision Zero sympathy to be “trendy” without really investing in the goal.

“Nobody wants traffic deaths, we all want to eliminate them, the question is: ‘Are we willing to go big and make the necessary changes?’” Larkin said.

He explained those necessary changes in a Vision Zero city would mean “civic officials taking responsibility for road safety, putting the onus on themselves, and using proven methods to establish fail-safe systems.”

Larkin said the status quo of most cities is relying on education, engineering and enforcement, pillars that survive in a shift to Vision Zero thinking, but in totally new ways.

“Engineering for one tends to come from this old fashioned idea that roads are devoted to level of service, throughput for cars,” he said.

“I’d rather talk about design, that’s sort of a more suitable term for describing what is basically the street as the best possible interface for all of the different users.”

Separating vulnerable users from cars, “clever signalization like advanced green for bikes,” pedestrian-initiated cross-walks, lower speeds, traffic-calming measures like speed humps and other innovations that are “compromises” that may irritate some drivers, Larkin said–but it won’t kill them.

He said the great part about Vision Zero is that in Europe, where the concept took hold decades ago now, it’s already proven, meaning Canadian cities needn’t reinvent the wheel.

“Just emulate the world leaders, do what they do, I’m talking about Sweden, Denmark… If you’re Winnipeg, it’s reasonable to look at those places,” he said.

“Go with proven data-driven methods, don’t do what you think is politically expedient so you can sell it to voters… we don’t need to do that.”

Peterniak will present her thoughts on the progressive approach at a public forum and panel discussion Coun. Janice Lukes has planned for January 30 at the Millennium Library.

She said it’s too early to tell what kind of support Vision Zero could have in Winnipeg, among its citizenry or leaders, but regardless it’s “encouraging” the discussion has started.

“I hope it will lead to action, road injuries and deaths are preventable so the more we get together and talk about it, the closer we get to that end.”

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:   Nov 14 2016


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.”