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San Diego Mixes Up Traffic Death Data On New Vision Zero Webpage

A bicyclist surrounded by cars rides on a street in downtown San Diego in thi...

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: A bicyclist surrounded by cars rides on a street in downtown San Diego in this undated photo.

San Diego recently revamped the webpage for its Vision Zero campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries, adding graphics, videos and a map of crash data to make the site more readable.

But the data in the crash map greatly understates the number of traffic deaths that took place over the past two years, based on a comparison with information from the city's Open Data portal.

The city's webpage, which was launched in May, states there were 33 traffic deaths in 2016 and 21 deaths in 2017. Police data show the number in 2016 was actually 64 — more than twice what the webpage states — and that 2017 actually saw 35 traffic deaths.

A screen shot of the city's revamped Vision Zero webpage shows a map of where traffic deaths have occurred on city streets.

Another section of the webpage includes three public service announcement videos produced by the city, each one stating there had been 37 traffic deaths in 2017.

City spokeswoman Lynda Pfeifer said the Vision Zero page was a "work in progress" and that she was looking into the data discrepancy.

Pfeifer also said the crash map would eventually be updated to show where the city was planning on making street safety improvements in the current fiscal year. KPBS created a map of the projects included in city's Vision Zero budget earlier this year.

RELATED: San Diego City Council Scrutinizes Vision Zero Traffic Safety Plans

Judi Tentor, executive director of the nonprofit Bike San Diego, said the webpage was an overall improvement, and that she was glad Mayor Kevin Faulconer appeared in all the public service announcements.

But Tentor said the messaging from the city should focus more on the responsibilities of drivers to slow down, pointing to data that show vehicle speed is a major factor in whether a crash is fatal or not.

"We have such a strong car culture, and a culture that encourages speed, encourages getting to your destination as fast as possible, and I think that needs to change," she said. "We need to slow down, and then everybody will be safer."

Maya Rosas, director of policy for the nonprofit Circulate San Diego, said while the website could use some improvements, ultimately city officials should put their greatest efforts into redesigning streets to slow down cars and improve safety.

"Other Vision Zero cities in the country have come out with maps that give detail on traffic deaths and serious injuries for all modes, and they also show where improvements are being made," Rosas said. "In the end, though, we need to see fewer lives being lost on our streets, and that happens through safe street improvements."

Vision Zero FY19 Proposed Budget

San Diego's revamped webpage for its Vision Zero traffic safety campaign understates the number of people who died in collisions over the past two years.


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Andrew Bowen
Metro Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover local government — a broad beat that includes housing, homelessness and infrastructure. I'm especially interested in the intersections of land use, transportation and climate change.

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