by Val Smith, Director of Solutions, Parachute

We attended the Vision Zero Cities 2017 conference on May 4-5 in New York City.

Congratulations to the organizers who provided an inspirational and transformative experience, showcasing the Vision Zero Movement both in U.S. and internationally. Vision Zero is quickly becoming a powerful and influential framework for road safety, with implementation from many cities. Cities are contributing significant resources towards Vision Zero with some amazing results.

The conference included networking events, engaging and thought provoking panels, interesting and diverse breakout presenters, walking and cycling tours of successful road safety interventions. Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City joined an impressive line up of keynote speakers. Speakers travelled from Sweden, Los Angeles and Barcelona to address attendees.

All the presentations were excellent.  Here are some of our key learnings from the Conference:

  • The importance of protecting the brand of Vision Zero: As Serena McIntosh, Vision Zero Cities Program Director says, “As we rebuild our cities, streets and rewrite local policies, we must ask, “Is this really Vision Zero?” Our integrity today will define our success in a decade. These comments point to the importance of not watering down Vision Zero to just a slogan and adhering to the core tenets of addressing and committing to the 4 Es in Vision Zero: Education, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evaluation.
  •  Vision Zero takes hard work and can be VERY challenging, but the reward is worthwhile: Vision Zero is about shifting a culture. As we heard in the PechaKucha: Vision Zero Victory Stories session, “It’s easy to get burned out and intimidated by the effort to achieve Vision Zero, but cities across the country are achieving incremental victories from slashing traffic fatalities on some of their most dangerous corridors to passing sales tax measures bringing in millions for transportation improvement projects each year.”
  • Using data in Vision Zero is essential: The importance of creating data focused pathways for Vision Zero is key, but it is also challenging. How can we reconcile qualitative and quantitative data to narrow down the geographical areas in greatest need of safety interventions? How can we use data to understand, measure and benchmark progress towards achieving Vision Zero. Stay tuned for latest Word on the Street infographic focused on the importance of data.

Again, congratulations to the organizers, Transportation Alternatives. Fantastic conference and especially valuable as we launch the Parachute Vision Zero Network and start to share information with our amazing partners in Canada.