Safety First! Vision Zero Safer streets for Seattle

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Seattle has a pretty stellar safety record. We’re consistently recognized as being one of the safest cities in the country for walking and biking.

For the past decade, collisions on our streets have steadily declined, and traffic fatalities have gone down 30 percent, even as our city grows. This is great news, but it isn’t good enough. Seattle’s streets see more than 10,000 crashes annually. Every year, close to 20 people die on our streets and many more are seriously injured. Each loss or serious injury is devastating to family, friends and broader communities. So here’s what we want to do: We want to build on our safety reputation – we want to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on our streets by 2030. This goal – this commitment – is Vision Zero. It’s part of a worldwide movement that argues that death and injury on city streets is preventable. For the most part, these aren’t ‘accidents’ as we’ve become accustomed to calling them. They’re usually the result of poor behaviors and unforgiving street designs. So we need to redesign our streets in a way that encourages safer behavior and prioritizes safety over speed and throughput. Targeted enforcement and public education will complement these engineering efforts. Seattle will need to use this three- pronged approach if we want our streets to be safer for everyone – from our 8-year-old children to our 80-year- old grandparents – whether they’re walking, driving, biking, taking transit or moving goods around the city. And as more and more people call Seattle home, we want to make sure that our streets become even safer places to travel on and enjoy. This is a driving force behind why we’re build- ing out a network of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. Designing safer streets and providing more travel options are key strategies to help Seattle grow gracefully. We want to end this safety session with a little heart-to-heart. Let’s be honest. You’ve jaywalked before (we all have). Maybe you didn’t stop for someone trying to cross the street, or you rolled through a stop sign. Many of us have probably been in near-miss situations. It’ll take all of us working together, making conscious decisions every day, to get to zero. We all have a part to ensure those decision and behaviors add up to zero fatalities – and we’ll be a better, stronger, safer city for it.