Our goal is to have zero deaths or life-altering injuries due to roadway design or user error in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.
Vision Zero began in 1997 in Sweden when the Parliament introduced a policy aimed to eliminate deaths and major injuries on their roads by 2020, with accompanying strategies. Vision Zero is the idea that every traffic collision is preventable, whether through engineering, education or enforcement. Since 1997, Sweden has been able to reduce their traffic fatalities by about 50%.
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) has always believed that safety is a key issue for people biking. Numerous studies show that there are four types of people biking: strong and fearless, enthused and confident, and interested but concerned, and no way, no how. It is typically the “interested but concerned” group that is the largest, and it is those people we must target when thinking of building infrastructure that will attract them to try riding a bike or creating new policies to support bicycling. The Office of Traffic Safety showed that there were 256 pedestrians injured or killed and 244 bicyclists injured or killed in San Mateo County in 2012; and 577 pedestrians injured or killed and 746 bicyclists injured or killed in Santa Clara County in 2012. However, studies show the injury rate to people biking decreases as rates of bicycling increases. Bicycling isn’t inherently more dangerous than driving or walking, but it is that perception that needs to be addressed.
In 2011, SVBC co-hosted a safety summit with Stanford Healthcare, who was concerned about the high rate of bicyclists who came into the trauma center with fatal or life-threatening injuries. Out of this meeting the Roadway Safety Solutions Team (RSST) was born, a coalition of diverse stakeholders with the purpose of overcoming the challenges of the multijurisdictional nature of Silicon Valley, helping to coordinate efforts between cities, and minimizing roadway user confusion. Since then, the RSST has been working on various projects focused on infrastructure, education and behavior, and enforcement to help further these goals.
In recent years, Vision Zero has gained momentum around the United States, with New York City and San Francisco adopting Vision Zero plans in 2014. In 2015, the United State Department of Transportation issued the Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets, challenging cities to address safety concerns on their roadways. Shortly after, the Vision Zero Act of 2015 was introduced in Congress, which would provide funding to cities that adopted a Vision Zero plan.
The Commercial Vehicle Driver Training, offered by Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition to companies that utilize professional drivers for employee alternative transportation, provides information on best practices for driving large commercial vehicles when sharing the road with bicycles and pedestrians. We cover bicycling rules of the road, common causes of bicycle/vehicle/pedestrian conflict, anticipated bicyclist behavior in various situations, Bay Area-specific cases, and maneuvering skills for optimum predictability and collision prevention. This training is designed to improve safety and comfort for all users of the road.
- Highway 35-Chip Seal
- Bike friendly intersection redesign at Page Mill/Highway 280
- Every city in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties adopt a Vision Zero policy and implementation plan
- Roadway Safety Solutions Team is examining 7 intersections of concern
- Consistent data collection across both counties
Thanks to bike advocate and Sunnyvale BPAC member Kevin Jackson for sharing this call to action with the SVBC community. SVBC submitted a letter (PDF) to the Sunnyvale City Council about the proposed Vision Zero study issue last week.
You probably know about the Vision Zero program, but if not you can read about it here. An obvious question is: Why would anyone be against this? Beats me, but in Sunnyvale a proposal to study developing a Vision Zero plan needs council’s vote of approval in a workshop this Friday. Some in the city don’t see the value in a Vision Zero program, so I’m asking for your help to make it happen.
In the six weeks since cyclist Jeff Donnelly was fatally struck by a vehicle on Page Mill Road near Highway 280, staffers at all the involved agencies have been working to improve, fund, and construct an interim design solution that will boost safety in the short term. SVBC has proposed a forum intended to gather public input and come to consensus on a design. The County Roads and Airports Department would prefer to first meet with technical staff from Palo Alto, Los Altos Hills, Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and Caltrans, then bring a more fleshed-out design to local cyclists for input. In any case, finding the money necessary for detailed design and construction is first on the to-do list.
As many of you know, last week a bicyclist was killed on Page Mill Road near the interchange with Highway 280. This was especially tragic given that SVBC has been working with the various stakeholders (Caltrans, County of Santa Clara, City of Palo Alto, and Town of Los Altos Hills) over several years to make this interchange safer.
In 2014, our Roadway Safety Solutions Team visited the site with engineers and staff from the respective jurisdictions to analyze the site and offer solutions. As Colin mentioned in our previous blog post, there is currently a phased plan on the table. The first stage or “interim” plan requires approval by Caltrans and includes more visible delineation and green paint, similar to nearby Alpine Road at Highway 280. We are currently in conversation with Caltrans and the County of Santa Clara to figure out where the funding for this plan comes from and how to move it forward as quickly as possible.
Yesterday, we learned that a bicyclist was struck by a driver and killed on Page Mill Road, in Palo Alto near the Highway 280 overpass. Our hearts go out to the friends and family of the victim of this tragic collision.
Unfortunately, this is an intersection that Silicon Valley bicyclists know all too well. For over a decade, advocates, including SVBC and the Roadway Safety Solutions Team, have been working to get the area improved for the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.