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San Diego City Council Scrutinizes Vision Zero Traffic Safety Plans

Two people walking dogs cross the intersection of Kettner Boulevard and Ash S...

Photo by Megan Wood / inewsource

Above: Two people walking dogs cross the intersection of Kettner Boulevard and Ash Street. Ladder-style crosswalks are becoming more common in San Diego, June 3, 2016.

San Diego City Council members on Wednesday got an update on the city's plan to reduce traffic deaths to zero by 2025. Advocates for safer streets say the city has shown a lack of commitment to the plan.

San Diego City Council members on Wednesday heard an update from city staff on the Vision Zero plan to eliminate all traffic deaths in San Diego by 2025.

The city's strategy focuses on three areas: enforcement of traffic laws, education about safe behaviors and engineering streets to make them safer for the most vulnerable travelers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Officials from the police, communications and transportation departments presented the council's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods committee with their plans for the current fiscal year, including targeted enforcement operations, a media campaign scheduled to launch later this year and a citywide analysis of crash data.

Engineering is proving to be the most difficult and expensive aspect of the city's Vision Zero implementation. Improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists often requires removing a travel lane or on-street parking, which can come up against resistance from drivers.

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The San Diego City Council adopted its Vision Zero resolution in 2015, calling for safety improvements to be focused on eight corridors in the city where data show crashes are most likely to happen.

Kathleen Ferrier, policy and communications director for the national Vision Zero Network, said the city's transportation department was rebranding much of its standard budget for things like streetlights and sidewalks across the entire city as Vision Zero projects, when it should be spending its limited dollars in the most dangerous areas.

"These are great projects for the city of San Diego that have a need and have a place," she said. "But these are not part of the Vision Zero agenda."

Document

Vision Zero Letter

Vision Zero Letter

The nonprofit Circulate San Diego makes recommendations to the city on how to better implement its Vision Zero traffic safety plan.

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Beryl Forman, marketing and mobility coordinator for the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, said the business owners she represents were tired of seeing their customers getting killed and injured by cars that drive too fast on the street. The association has long advocated for slower speeds and more crosswalks to improve pedestrian and bike safety.

"On the west end of El Cajon Boulevard, there are five dense developments being built with over 500 new residents," she said. "These are people who really want to be about urban living. They need to be able to cross the street safely and live in a great urban environment."

Councilman Chris Ward agreed, and told staff that educating pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists on safe behaviors could only go so far.

"At some point we're going to reach a tipping point where we have to amend our environment as well," he said. "I think part of that's going to have to be looking at some of these additional crossing areas, because that's what people are doing anyway."

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