Vision Zero

Click here to download our brand new Vision Zero Toolkit, released August 2015!

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.


Current programs:
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.

Current campaigns


Recent News

View, Download the Vision Zero Toolkit

Our Vision Zero Toolkit is designed for city and county staff, elected officials, and other transportation and planning professionals who would like to see their jurisdiction adopt and implement Vision Zero, the goal to eliminate traffic deaths and life-altering injuries on our roadway. SVBC, along with California Walks, created the Toolkit to provide the short-, mid-, and long-term steps that a city can take to reduce major collisions. Informed by best practices from around the globe, we hope that this Toolkit will provide a roadmap for cities to work toward this important goal. Advocates can also use this guide to understand what actions to ask their jurisdictions to implement at the local level to end roadway fatalities and life-altering injuries. The Vision Zero Toolkit is framed using the “Five E’s” of street safety improvements (Evaluation and Planning Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement). It is essential that municipalities also think of Engagement and Equity as they work toward a Vision Zero program that is inclusive and impactful. Vision Zero cannot be achieved without looking at changes in each of the categories. Download the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition / California Walks Vision Zero...

VTA’s Nuria Fernandez Shares Top Priorities, Projects to Support Biking in Silicon Valley

Tweet Share Nuria Fernandez, the General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), is one of the highlighted speakers at the 5th Annual Silicon Valley Bicycle Summit, hosted by SVBC and presenting sponsor, Stanford Healthcare, next week, Wednesday, August 26 at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto. The future of safety and bicycling in Santa Clara County are key issues for the Summit, and Nuria took the time to share how VTA is addressing these issues and give us a sneak peek at what she’ll be talking about at the Summit. What are the top priorities and projects for the Valley Transportation Authority? VTA’s Envision Silicon Valley process, which began last year and will continue into 2016, is gathering elected officials and stakeholders to examine our transportation network, identify the gaps and find ways to fill those in. It’s a big job that could result in VTA going to voters with a sales tax to help fund the identified projects. VTA’s BART Silicon Valley Extension: Phase I, the extension from Alameda County to the Berryessa area of San José, is halfway through construction, and it’s time for work to begin on Phase II. The preliminary work includes community meetings and pursuing funding for VTA’s extension of the line farther into Santa Clara County. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT): VTA broke ground on the first BRT line in the Bay Area last year, and this year will continue planning for a second line, down El Camino Real. As a viable alternative to trips made in cars, BRT is expected to help relieve...

Vision Zero Toolkit to debut at Silicon Valley Bike Summit

On August 26, attendees to the Silicon Valley Bike Summit will get to hear the debut of our Vision Zero Toolkit, in collaboration with California Walks, and take home a copy to help them implement this important program in their communities. SVBC has been working towards Vision Zero, the goal to have 0 deaths and life-altering injuries on our roadways, since the early part of this decade. This was the impetus to create the Roadway Safety Solutions Team with Stanford Healthcare, in which we work with stakeholders from around San Mateo County and Santa Clara County on safety initiatives. Vision Zero has been gaining attention nationally and worldwide over the last year, with the United States Department of Transportation Mayors’ Challenge, and San Francisco and New York City adopting Vision Zero policies and implementation plans. Locally, City of San Mateo and City of San Jose have adopted Vision Zero policies this year as well. With all this movement, we’ve had cities from San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties asking us how they too can adopt and implement such plans and create safer streets for their communities. To address this need, we are developing a Vision Zero Toolkit in collaboration with California Walks. This Toolkit will provide a guide for city staff and policymakers with key steps to take towards achieving Vision Zero. The Toolkit will be organized using the “Five E’s,” a common framework in street safety to categorize the types of projects and improvements that will lead to systematic change. These are engineering, enforcement, education, encouragement, and evaluation. We’ve added a couple other E’s that we think are...

Announcing Silicon Valley Bike Summit 2015

Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is excited to announce our Fifth Annual Silicon Valley Bike Summit, with co-host and presenting sponsor, Stanford Health Care. The annual summit is the region’s largest gathering of active transportation leaders and organizers from government, law enforcement, non-profit, and the public. If your organization or agency is actively involved in active transportation issues, wishes to get involved, or if you are passionate about a healthy environment, economy and community for Silicon Valley, this is the Summit for you. Registration is $35, and you can sign up here. This year will focus on how San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties are addressing safety for people who bike and how we can all work together toward achieving Vision Zero, the goal to have zero deaths and major injuries on our roadways. Our Keynote Speakers are Nuria Fernandez and Jim Hartnett, both relatively new to their positions of head of Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and San Mateo County Transit District, respectively. They’ll discuss how their agencies approach bicycle issues and what is in the works for the future. Next we’ll hear the results from over a year’s worth of research from San Mateo County Health System and Santa Clara County Health Department, who have both produced collision reports that focus on the what, where, why, and how of bicycle collisions in our region. These reports dig deep into existing data from a multitude of sources to provide a baseline snapshot of crashes in our area. However, there’s much more work to do! Using those data reports as a launching point, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition will debut our Vision...

San Jose announces Vision Zero program

Last Monday, May 4, the City of San José announced it is refocusing its annual traffic safety report and moving forward with a Vision Zero plan (PDF). The plan, signed on to by Department of Transportation Director Hans Larsen, Chief of Police Larry Esquivel, and Mayor Sam Liccardo, outlines current efforts to improve engineering, education, enforcement, and outreach, and adds an emphasis on technology, policy, and partnerships. Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition was specifically called out in the Partnerships section, along with other community-based groups and agency partners that promote safety as a goal. We have also been asked to partner with California Walks to co-chair a task force, led by Vice Mayor Rose Herrera, that will conduct community outreach meetings and strategy sessions in San José neighborhoods that have been most affected by traffic violence. The announcement of a Vision Zero goal was big news – roadway deaths now significantly outnumber homicides in San José. We’re excited to tackle this problem alongside our partners at California Walks, with support from city agencies, our elected leaders, and the police department. San José has done a great job at improving its built environment for bicyclists and pedestrians in recent years. Now its time to identify the biggest threats to safety and begin eliminating them so that people feel more confident choosing to travel by foot or by...

State legislation update

Last week was California Bike Advocacy Day and I joined advocates from around the state to meet with your state assemblymembers and senators in Sacramento. We started the trip by getting briefed by California Bicycle Coalition on the important asks: Increase the Active Transportation Program by $100 million: Last year was the first year California combined several funding programs to create the Active Transportation Program (ATP) for biking and walking projects. The state received over 800 applications and was able to fund fewer than 200. The current budget of $120 million isn’t sufficient to meet the demand cities have for biking and walking projects. Assembly Bill 902, Bicycle Diversion Programs: This bill will enable bicyclists ticketed for moving violations to participate in free bicycle education classes and have their fines reduced. This is a priority of the Roadway Safety Solutions Team. Assembly Bill 40, Prohibit Bridge Tolling of Bicyclists and Pedestrians: This bill prohibits tolls for walking and bicycling on state-owned bridges, including the Golden Gate Bridge, in order to not deter people from taking trips by bike or foot. Assembly Bill 1096, Electric Bicycle Classification: This bill would clarify the definition of electric bicycles (e-bikes) and make bicycling accessible to more people. I was able to meet with staff for the following legislators, most of whom were strongly in support of the proposed bills. A big thanks to their offices for taking the time to meet with us: Senator Jerry Hill Senator Bob Wiecowski Assemblymember Kevin Mullin Assemblymember Kansen Chu Assemblymember Evan Low Assemblymember Nora Campos CalBike also hosted an e-bike demo where I had the chance to...

Vision Zero proposed for San Jose

I had the pleasure of attending San Jose’s Rules and Open Government Committee meeting yesterday, during which members of the City Council moved forward a proposal from Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio to formally implement a Vision Zero initiative. SVBC has been advocating for Vision Zero policies throughout our two counties for over three years, so we’re thrilled to see support in the Bay Area’s biggest city! San Jose would join other large cities like New York and San Francisco in declaring that no loss of life on our roadways is acceptable. In 2015 traffic deaths have exceeded homicides in San Jose. Currently San Mateo is the only city in our two counties that has already adopted a Vision Zero policy. San Jose’s consideration follows their acceptance of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Mayors’ Challenge for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety. Next stop: the City’s Transportation and Environment Committee, where more details about a potential Vision Zero program will be rolled into the Department of Transportation’s annual Transportation Safety Report. From there, we hope the proposed initiative will go to the full City Council for a vote and inclusion in the next city budget. Read Councilmember Oliverio’s memo here. Do you want your city to adopt a Vision Zero policy? Start by telling your city council to sign up for the Mayor’s...

San Mateo passes precedent-setting Sustainable Streets Plan

At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting in San Mateo, the passage of the city’s Sustainable Streets Plan was so inevitable that it wasn’t even pulled from the consent calendar. The Council voted unanimously to pass this plan which includes many visionary plans and ideas, including: Vision Zero A goal for zero roadway fatalities and a reduction in collisions involving injuries, Conceptual drawings for El Camino Real bikeways, Complete Streets, The prioritization of movement over vehicle storage, The goal to increase bicycle and pedestrian mode share to 30% by 2020, The adoption of the NACTO guidelines, and The elimination of Level of Service metrics in favor of Vehicle Miles Traveled metrics. We applaud the city for taking this action and look forward to working with them to help implement this plan. Congrats, San...

Mayors’ Challenge for Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety

On January 22nd, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Anthony Foxx issued a challenge to mayors and local elected officials to improve safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. As SVBC has been working on our Vision Zero initiative since 2011, we couldn’t be more thrilled that this issue is gaining national attention, and we echo Foxx’s challenge to the elected leaders in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. This region must make the roads safer for alternate modes of transportation and alter the perception of its residents that those types of trips are unsafe. The American Community Survey showed that in 2013 in San Mateo County, only 1% of workers 16 years and older commuted by bike as their primary mode of transportation to work. In Santa Clara County in 2013, 1.9% of workers 16 years and older commute by bike as their primary mode of transportation to work. The Office of Traffic Safety showed that in 2012, there were 244 bicyclists injured or killed in San Mateo County and 746 bicyclists injured or killed in Santa Clara County. These deaths and injuries are unacceptable and the underlying causes need to be addressed. Secretary Foxx asks local leaders to take on three tasks: Issue a public statement about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian safety, Form a local action team to advance safety and accessibility goals, Take local action through the challenge activities. We encourage all local elected officials (including mayors, city councils and Board of Supervisors) to work with SVBC and our existing Roadway Safety Solutions Team on the goals and activities outlined in...

San Mateo debuts Sustainable Streets Plan, takes major steps toward safe transportation network

On Monday night, November 3, Ken Chin of the San Mateo Department of Public Works introduced the draft Sustainable Streets Plan to City Council. This plan has been over two years in the works and has involved many community meetings, the Taste and Talk series as well as other visioning exercises and research. SVBC is very happy to see San Mateo take such an innovative approach to transportation. The plan embodies at least three of our five major initiatives, including Vision Zero (setting a goal for zero roadway fatalities and a reduction in collisions involving injuries), El Camino Real bikeways (more below), and Connecting our Communities. In addition, we applaud the incorporation of Complete Streets, the prioritization of movement over vehicle storage, the goal to increase bicycle and pedestrian mode share to 30% by 2020, the adoption of the NACTO guidelines, and the elimination of Level of Service metrics in favor of Vehicle Miles Traveled metrics. The plan lays out a vision, goals, and objectives as well as street design guidelines. It also includes several sample projects, including two on El Camino Real. SVBC has been working in several communities to encourage bicycle facilities on ECR, to help increase visibility and accessibility of bicycling. San Mateo’s draft plans are the first from any city on the Peninsula that fully embody the vision that we have for El Camino Real: protected bike lanes, pedestrian improvements, and traffic calming. Specific details can be found starting on page 4-3 of the draft plan (downloadable here). Most of the City Council members seemed supportive of this plan. However, there will be a number...

California Legislative Update: Protected Bike Lanes for All!

Well, the legislative session came to an end on September 30, the last chance for Governor Jerry Brown to sign or veto bills that the legislature had passed. Here is a rundown of the action by Governor Brown on bills that we supported: Yay! AB 1193, Protected Bikeways bill: Passed – Protected bike lanes, where formerly illegal, are now legal and encouraged by the California Department of Transportation. Caltrans must now write guidelines for these types of facilities, which are protected from vehicle traffic by a barrier, either curb, planter, bollard, or other physical separation. These types of bikeways have been shown to increase bicycling in many other communities because of the comfort and perception of safety. Also passed were AB 2707, which will allow buses to have 3-bike bike racks on the front of buses instead of the current 2-bike racks, expanding capacity, and SB 1183, which allows a city, county, or regional park district to apply a special motor vehicle surcharge of <$5 which would go towards bicycle infrastructure. Boo! The bills below would have helped to make the roads safer and send a strong message that bicyclists deserve to be safe on our state's roadways. However, Brown vetoed all of them, ostensibly because of the desire not to create more crimes and penalties. AB 2398, Vulnerable Users bill: Vetoed – Despite the more than 100 signatures we gathered on a petition for this bill, as well as the many signatures CalBike gathered, Brown vetoed this bill that would have increased fines from a paltry $60-90 to a still-low but more appropriate $220-300. While other states around...

New California “3 Feet for Safety” law effective September 16th

Last September, the State of California joined other states by approving AB 1371, the 3-feet passing law which requires all motorists to give bicyclists 3 feet of space when passing them. This law goes into effect September 16th of this year. SVBC, alongside our colleagues at California Bicycle Coalition supported the passage of this bill last summer and we feel it will improve safety on the road for all users. Here are some common questions and answers about this new law and what it means for you. What does the 3-feet bill mean for me? As a bicyclist, continue bicycling as normal. As a motorist, you may only pass a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a street if you do so with 3 feet of space between the motor vehicle and the closest part of a bicycle/bicyclist (e.g., handlebar, mirror, elbow – whatever is closest to your car). What are the penalties for violating the 3 feet law? If a driver is found to violate this law, they will be fined $35 plus fees. If a violation results in an injury to a bicyclist, the driver will be fined $220 plus fees. With court and administrative fees added, the $35 fine becomes $233 and the $220 fine becomes $959! How is this law enforced? If a motorist is seen violating this law, they can be ticketed and fined. This law will be particularly valuable if a bicyclist is hit by a motorist. In this case, it provides a clear basis for establishing liability. However, the most important part of this law is education and defining...