Vision Zero, a multi-national road traffic safety project which aims to achieve a roadway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic, is prominent in the minds of many planners around the world. It started in Sweden in October 1997, and New York City and Mayor Bill de Blasio adopted this initiative in 2014 with the City’s Vision Zero Action Plan, a 63-step approach, to end all traffic fatalities in New York City by 2024. For students and alumni of the Bloustein School, Vision Zero took on an even larger role through two Vision Zero events held in New York City.
The Bloustein School hosted the first PoP Topics event of the academic year on November 5. The event, “Ending Traffic Fatalities in New York—The Vision Zero Initiative,” focused on the policy, implementation, enforcement, and advocacy behind New York City’s Vision Zero Initiative. The event was presented by the Bloustein School Alumni Association – New York City Regional Alumni Group, Arup, and the Bloustein School.
Collaboration between several organizations has been instrumental to the success of the initiative, including the NYPD, the NYC Department of Transportation, the NYC Department of Health, the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission, Transportation Alternatives, the NYC Department of Education, and Arup. Vincent Riscica MCRP ’09, Senior Planner at Arup, moderated a discussion that included Serena McIntosh, Research & Data Coordinator at Transportation Alternatives; Rodney Stiles BA UP ’09, Director of Research & Evaluation at the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission; Anthony Durante, MCRP ’09, Senior Planner at Arup; and Sean Quinn MCRP ’07, Co-Director of the Pedestrian Project Group and Rob Viola, Planner, both at the NYC Department of Transportation.
Over the course of an hour, the panelists discussed many different aspects, as well as the implementation of, the Vision Zero initiative, ranging from citizen advocacy to design standards to emerging technologies. The initiative not only includes designing safer streets and intersections, but also includes increasing penalties for unsafe driving, increasing education efforts, and expanding outreach and communications to the public.
The next day, a group of 20 Bloustein students visited Queens Boulevard to see one of the Vision Zero projects in action. Designated a Vision Zero Priority Corridor by the mayoral administration, Queens Boulevard project is receiving a $100 million capital investment to improve pedestrian, bicyclist and motor vehicle user safety between June 2015 and August 2018. Two project managers working on the redesign and reconstruction of the project led the group on a tour of the Boulevard between 59th St and 65th Place. They discussed a variety of the issues, goals and designs along Queens Boulevard that made it a particularly complex project. The opportunity to see this planning and designing in action was a valuable resource for the students to add to their planning toolkit.