Worth Your Time: Systematic Safety, The Principles Behind Vision Zero

by | February 21, 2017 | Biking in Philly, Featured, Vision Zero | 3 comments

If you’re considering attending the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Vision Zero Conference on March 1, and would like some academic context on the policy to get your juices flowing, you can check out our numerous pages on Vision Zero, and you can watch the video below.

The eight-minute video offers an explanation of the Dutch “Sustainable Safety” policy. It was created by Professor Peter Furth of Northeastern University in Boston. It is definitely worth checking out.

Among the many points made throughout the video:

1) It is a policy in places like the Netherlands, but not in the United States, that nobody should have to risk their life to get to work.

2) Vision Zero was implemented in the 1990s in Sweden and other parts of Europe. Since then, traffic deaths have dropped at a higher rate than the U.S.’s have. If our rate had dropped like theirs, as noted in the video, we’d be saving 20,000 lives per year

3) No matter where you are or who’s operating whatever vehicle, people are vulnerable and they make mistakes. This is a huge correct assumption of Vision Zero—if you design streets with the idea that people don’t make mistakes, you’re doing it wrong. A system not designed for people to make mistakes is not a system that works—especially when people are so prone to making minor mistakes behind the wheel.

For more on our Vision Zero 2017 Conference, check out this link.

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  1. Daron Phillips

    Once Philadelphia bike riders use their bikes as responsible vehicle operators, vision zero will have a chance. I do not know this for sure, but I suspect bike culture in Netherlands teaches the very young how to be a respectful bike commuter.

  2. Stephen De Franco

    My most recent experience in center city Philadelphia brought to my attention how poorly some bicyclist ride in that area. I nearly struck a bicyclist while making a right hand turn (my turn signal had been on). Thank God it was unusually warm and my window was open to hear his yell. He was not present when I approached the intersection. Where he came from I don’t know. All I know is I ride a bicycle in another part of PA and i don’t proceed in the path of a car making a right hand turn. I ‘ll gladly wait. Bicyclist must work with traffic if they really want to ride safely.

  3. Wim Ahlers

    Stephen De Franco, you remarked: “Bicyclist must work with traffic if they really want to ride safely.”

    Bicycles ARE traffic. There are just more vulnerable traffic, like pedestrians.
    Which means that motorist traffic has a greater responsibility. A concept alien in the USA, partly because of a dumb book called “Effective cycling” by John Forrester.
    The reason this is a dumb book is because he assumes everybody sticks to the rules all the time, and, at the same time, everybody is perfect, sees everything, reacts flawlessly, timely, and perfectly, on each and every weather and traffic condition. He is wrong.
    And he is proved to be wrong.

    He still claims that cycle lanes and cycle tracks are more dangerous then his vehicular cycling claim. If that were true than The Netherlands should be the most dangerous cycle nation in the world. In fact, it is the opposite.

    Forrester also implicitly assumes that, when cycling, you are a fit confident male, fit enough to outrun motorist vehicles.
    His examples of vehicular cycling for kids (like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-48derkX7Q4) is outright dangerous.

    Vehicular cycling also effectively excludes moms doing groceries, or moms transporting children, or the elderly, or the physical disabled/impaired. Of which all are included in The Netherlands. Effectively, these aforementioned groups have LESS freedoms in the USA.

    To illustrate, there is so much wrong in the youtube video referenced below that I don’t know where to start, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWSqf1B8sis
    For example, in the following time reference he uses such a stupid excuse to justify his own righteous claim and uses it as an excuse to dismiss every concept of bike infrastructure. See: https://youtu.be/SWSqf1B8sis?t=1116


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