With this blog post, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is wrapping up our work on the Focus Cities project for the 2017 federal fiscal year. We were proud to be approached by California Walks to be the local San José bike advocates in a program funded by the Office of Traffic Safety and spearheaded by UC Berkeley SafeTREC and California Walks.
San Jose is one of seven California “focus cities” identified by the Federal Highway Administration as having disproportionately high walking and biking injuries and traffic fatalities. The program seeks to support events and activities that would counter that worrying state of affairs and build a culture of safety. Local organizations have been tasked with implementing projects that support those goals.
As part of our project, SVBC has been able to spend time educating decision makers and the public on protected bike lanes, open streets events, and Vision Zero. We’ve had the opportunity to sync up with colleagues in Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Santa Ana to share best practices and look for solutions to common problems. This peer-to-peer outreach is all too rare in our world and generated some very helpful insight and strategies.
The program also gave us the opportunity to participate more fully in the August visit from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) to San José. We were able to organize a tour of the city’s pop-up protected bike lane that got some media coverage via Streetsblog California.
To cap off the experience, I traveled to San Diego last week to finally meet my Focus Cities compatriots in person. Our last session together was a deep-dive on Vision Zero programs in our respective cities. We learned a lot: all Vision Zero programs are having trouble dealing with (and sometimes just acknowledging) the equity challenges inherent to the initiative; conducting meaningful community outreach requires both hard work and creativity; and most of us have at least one element of our Vision Zero efforts to be proud of. In San José, we’ve received praise for our police department’s desire to help with Vision Zero while bringing in outside experts to study potential bias in the department. Chief Eddie Garcia has noted that, “The first step in any effort to improve is self-assessment, and this report provides a critical benchmark of existing stop practices that will help us make more progress.”
Our thanks to the Office of Traffic Safety for funding this endeavor. We look forward to continuing our work with them, California Walks, and UC Berkeley SafeTREC.