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Davis, California

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Sacramento makes traffic safety a priority


Fight for zero traffic deaths by 2027

Sacramento’s Vision Zero traffic safety program aims to eliminate vehicular fatalities and serious injuries in the city by 2027.

The city is developing a Vision Zero Action Plan that will identify factors influencing traffic incidents and lay out necessary actions for stopping vehicular deaths and injuries.

Vision Zero is based on the philosophy of there being no such thing as traffic ‘accidents’ — instead, all traffic incidents are seen as preventable.

Jim Brown, the executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, expressed admiration for the city’s efforts put toward bike and pedestrian safety.

“Improving roadway safety is the key to realizing the environmental, health and economic benefits of bicycle transportation,” Brown said. “These are benefits that touch the entire community. [SABA] applauds the city’s ongoing work to implement Vision Zero.”

Kirin Kumar, the executive director of WALKSacramento, emphasized the benefits that stem from increased accessibility to active transportation.

“Studies have shown that one of the most important factors contributing to one’s ability to move into the next socioeconomic level is access to quality transportation,” Kumar said. “In order to make Sacramento the truly first-class city we know it can be, we must take these critical steps toward zero.”

Walt Seifert, a member of Sacramento’s Bicycle Advisory Committee and Vision Zero Task Force, echoed the sentiments of Brown and Kumar.

“Bicyclists and pedestrians are disproportionately the victims in traffic crashes,” Seifert said.

At a city council meeting in January 2017, Seifert expressed his support for automated speed enforcement.

Last February, San Francisco Assemblymember David Chiu drafted AB 342, which would legalize automated speed enforcement for a five-year pilot program in San Francisco and San Jose.

The program aims to decrease car speed by redesigning Sacramento’s streets through street narrowing, road diets and speed-feedback signs.

According to Vision Zero’s study, about a quarter of car crashes in Sacramento were alcohol-related. The city plans to create educational and promotional campaigns in order to discourage people who have been drinking from driving and instead encourage ridesharing and designated drivers.

Sacramento’s Bicycle Master Plan intends to construct protected and buffered bike lanes on streets with a mile-per-hour limit of 30 or higher as well as post signs warning drivers about the presence of bicyclists.

According to a study done by the city, 79 percent of all crashes occur on Sacramento’s high-injury network, which accounts for under a quarter of the city’s roadways. A disproportionate number of the city’s high-injury roadways run through disadvantaged neighborhoods and near schools.

Vision Zero is a multinational traffic safety program that started in Sweden in 1997. The program made its way to the U.S. in 2014 in New York and has since spread across the country. As of January, California had nine Vision Zero cities.

Traffic deaths in New York City are down 30 percent since 2013, the year before Vision Zero was implemented.

According to the Vision Zero Draft Action Plan, during the five-year period from 2010 to 2014, 130 people died in traffic crashes in Sacramento, including 48 pedestrians and 13 bicyclists.

The Vision Zero Task Force is made up of over a dozen government agencies and private organizations including SABA, Sacramento Regional Transit, Society for the Blind and Sacramento City Unified School District.

The City of Sacramento recently began its efforts in traffic safety by implementing a monthly urban bicycling class, installing Sacramento City College’s bicycle and pedestrian bridge and approving over $22 million in safety grant improvements from 2013 to 2017.

Sacramento’s Vision Zero Final Draft will be presented to City Council this spring.


Written by: Dylan Svoboda — city@theaggie.org


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