On October 10th, the City released its fifth Vision Zero Annual Report, summarizing the results of seven years of work that the Kenney Administration has conducted to eliminate traffic deaths. The Bicycle Coalition played a pivotal role in securing Mayor Kenney’s commitment to Vision Zero during the 2015 mayoral primary and pressed him to follow through on that commitment in the first two years of his administration by signing an executive order, creating a new office and hiring a director. The Office of Complete Streets and its Director, Kelley Yemen, produced two action plans in 2017 and 2020 and a 2025 capital plan, which have guided the policies and infrastructure improvements that the City has prioritized.After five years of implementation, the results are impressive.
After analyzing the Complete Streets projects that have been installed since 2016 (before and after studies) and comparing them to trends on the High Injury Network (those streets where 80% of traffic fatalities & injuries occur), Complete Streets projects have resulted in:
- 34% fewer fatal and serious injury crashes.
- 20% fewer injury crashes of any severity.
- Streets with Road diets had 18% fewer total injury crashes compared to High Injury Network trends.
- Separated bike lanes saw 17% fewer total injury crashes and twice as many bike riders. The City is set to add separated bike lanes to 40 total miles of streets by 2025.
- Neighborhood Slow Zones, areas in which traffic calming measures were installed and a 20 mph speed limit. was set have seen no fatal or serious injury crashes, and 75% fewer crashes.
And while these results are worth applauding, Philadelphia needs a city-wide commitment to Vision Zero more than ever.
The pandemic spiked traffic deaths in 2020 and the stubbornly high number of people killed by traffic violence has not declined to pre-2020 levels yet.
- There were 124 traffic deaths on city streets in 2022, compared to 123 in 2021. In 2019, the figure was 84 deaths; that same number has already been reached in August 2023.
- Vulnerable road users continue to be at risk. Every week, five children 17 years old and younger are hit by a vehicle while walking.
- In 2022, people walking or rolling accounted for 47% of those killed in traffic crashes, more than people in vehicles.
- Vision Zero is an equity issue. Communities of color, lower-income neighborhoods, older adults, and people walking and biking face higher rates of traffic violence.
- As of August 2023, 37 pedestrians and 8 bicyclists have been killed, far higher than the average of 2018-2022
The good news is that the City’s hard work that started in 2016 put it in a position to apply for and receive over $220 million in federal grants to address dangerous roads where most of these deaths occur.
- $78 million MEGA grant for the Roosevelt Boulevard’s Route for Change.
- $30 million for Safe Streets for All.
- Three separate $25 million RAISE Grants for Blossom at Bartram, Great Streets PHL, and North Philadelphia School Zones.
- $2 million for the Chinatown Stitch planning.
- $35 million in additional federal, state, and local traffic safety grants since October 2022.
But, this funding isn’t enough. We need the next Mayor to re-commit to Vision Zero; we need the State Senate to pass legislation to make automated speed enforcement permanent and expanded to other dangerous roads; we need the State Senate to fix the state’s vehicle code to allow parking separated bike lanes.
Vision Zero is a response to a long term crisis that must be pursued over the long term to produce generational scale progress. It is not a six or eight year policy. It must be a policy that is pursued by many mayors to maximize its success for both current and future generations. The City has just begun to redesign a transportation network for everyone in Philadelphia to bike, walk, take transit or drive a car safely to where they need to go; it can’t afford to stop that effort. Our message to the next mayor and the current Pennsylvania State Senate: Philadelphians depend on you to work in partnership together to save lives: bend the curve of traffic violence to reach zero deaths for a lasting legacy.