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.