- Vision Zero Cities 2020 conference occurred online on Oct. 19–23, 2020.
- Effects of COVID-19 on transportation safety being felt far and wide by advocates and their communities.
- COVID-19 has taught the transportation world that rapid change is possible.
The Vision Zero Cities 2020 conference was virtual this year, but that didn’t put a damper on the inspirational panelists and valuable conversations surrounding transportation safety. BEST Safe Streets Coordinator Claire Roth attended the virtual conference, and noted themes and takeaways that can be applied to BEST’s local efforts.
Rapid results are possible
In the opening Vision Zero Cities Roundtable, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris drew a chilling connection between the COVID-19 pandemic and the pandemic of death on our streets; having the tools to reduce speed to save human life on our streets is like having the vaccine for COVID-19 and not using it.
The COVID-19 era has proven to communities that decision-makers have the ability to make infrastructure changes, fast; we have seen this through street closures for streeteries, previous parking spaces now being used for takeout-only, neighborhoods being closed to through-traffic to make the space more people-centric. In this moment where the global pandemic has pulled apart the fabric of everyday life, it’s important to continue pushing for changes in the transportation world and questioning what is possible in the name of safer streets.
Safe streets and equity
Equity and how space is used for humans versus cars has always been an important aspect of Vision Zero, but has been especially highlighted in this time. In the conference session Curbing Conflict: Design Solutions for Equitable Curbside Access, participants were urged to think about the value of parking spaces; ten parking spaces can mean ten parked cars holding as little as ten customers, but just one space could be transformed into two tables for active customer seating, not just the storage of a vehicle. Panelists in this session pointed out that we need to work to serve everyone because our streets are for everyone; this happens when we consistently ask ourselves how to serve our community with the space that we have, and to not accept it at face value.
Transportation must also be considered as a social justice issue in order to make tangible progress toward safer streets for all road users. In the Self-Enforcing Streets: Improving Safety & Reducing the Harm of Racial Bias session, panelists discussed what safe streets without police officers could look like, citing successful examples of citizen safety coalitions who monitor street safety by coming together and uniting. The goal is for the average person walking around to feel like the city is designed for them, and that groups or individuals maintaining public safety are not out to get them. Panelists noticed that at the national level, money is being pumped into car culture and not into making streets safer, so many efforts of this kind happen at the local level and are citizen-led.
The COVID-19 era has taught us that change is possible sooner than we have been previously told, and BEST is committed to carrying lessons learned in the Vision Zero Cities 2020 conference into our work locally.
- Vision Zero Cities 2020
- October 8, 2020
- Open Streets as a Tool for Recovery — Michael Carroll, Cindy Eggleton, Kaja Kühl & Shabazz Stuart (City of Philadelphia, Brilliant Detroit, Design For Six Feet & Oonee Pod)
- October 15, 2020
- A Conversation with Vision Zero Funders — Kay Cheng, Danny Harris, Corinne Kisner & Lilly Weinberg (Spin, Transportation Alternatives, NACTO & Knight Foundation)
- October 19, 2020
- Vision Zero Cities Roundtable — Shiloh Ballard, Danny Harris, Damon Richards, Leah Shahum & Stacy Thompson (Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Transportation Alternatives, Bike Indianapolis, Vision Zero Network & LivableStreets)
- Repeal Robert Moses: The Racist Legacy of Highway Design — Cary Moon, Ese Olumhense, Ydanis Rodriguez & Linda Samuels (Director, THE CITY, New York City Council & Washington University in St. Louis)
- Keynote featuring Congressman Jesús G. “Chuy” García — Erwin Figueroa & Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia (Transportation Alternatives & 4th District, Illinois, U.S. House of Representatives)
- Vision Zero Vignettes — Bahij Chancey, Kurt Culbertson, Skye Duncan, Eric Gonzalez, Lisa Jillson & Mary Beth Kelly ACSW (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Design Workshop, NACTO, Kings County Attorney’s Office, Arity & Families for Safe Streets)
- October 20, 2020
- Curbing Conflict: Design Solutions for Equitable Curbside Access — Jessica Cronstein, Joseph Juhnke, Dawn Miller, April Schneider & Jason Schrieber AICP (New York City Department of Transportation, CarrierDirect, Coord, Stantec & Stantec)
- Self-Enforcing Streets: Improving Safety & Reducing the Harm of Racial Bias — Linda Bailey, Dongho Chang, Marco Conner DiAquoi, Shayana Kadidal, Carlina Rivera & Matt Roe (District Department of Transportation (DDOT), City of Seattle, Transportation Alternatives, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York City Council & NACTO)
- Your City Your Voice — Erwin Figueroa (Director of Organizing, Transportation Alternatives)
- October 21, 2020
- Regional Leadership: Expanding the Reach and Access of Vision Zero through Regional Agencies — Sarah Caper, Colin Clarke, Shruti Hari, Lake McTighe & Dana Weissman (Forward Pinellas, Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Oregon Metro & Fehr & Peers)
- Designing for Safety: Vision Zero and Development Review — Eric Graye, Barbara Mosier, Mariana Valdivia & Aaron Zimmerman (Montgomery County Planning Department, Toole Design, Los Angeles Department of Transportation & District Department of Transportation)
- Keynote Presented by Together for Safer Roads featuring Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston — Sylvester Turner, Margaret Wallace Brown, David Braunstein & Cesar Vargas (City of Houston, City of Houston, Together for Safer Roads & Anheuser-Busch)
- October 22, 2020
- Rethinking Our Ride: Micromobility Adapts to the New Normal presented by Lime — Barb Chamberlain, Julie Chrétien, Henry Greenidge & Phil Jones (Washington State Department of Transportation, 6-t, New York University & Lime)
- Mobility in a Warming World — Mariane Jang, Jim MacRae, J. Mohorčich, Chris Rhie & Heather Thompson (Independent Consultant, Design Workshop, Lehman College, Buro Happold & Institute for Transportation & Development Policy)
- Victim Blaming: How Media Narratives Can Undermine Efforts to Eliminate Traffic Deaths — Arthur Chi’en, Kelcie Ralph, Angie Schmitt, Ron Snyder & Nickya Wittington (FOX 5 NY, Rutgers University, 3MPH Planning + Consulting, Kings County District Attorney’s Office & Families for Safe Streets)
- October 23, 2020
- Rapid Adaptation for the #BikeBoom — Maximilian Gawlik, Doogie Roux, Georgia Yexley & Peter Yuskauskas L’Institut Paris Region, Micromobility Consulting, Beryl & Brompton Bicycle
- You Can Do This: Manage Speeds for Safety — Amy Cohen, Juan Martinez, Joel Meyer, Jenny O’Connell & Leah Shahum (Families for Safe Streets, New York City Hall, City of Austin, NACTO & Vision Zero Network)
- Closing Keynote — Polly Trottenberg (Commissioner, New York City Department of Transportation)