ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — In July 2019, the Arlington County Board approved Vision Zero: a countywide movement to reduce pedestrian and motorist deaths. The Department of Environmental Services is now asking the pubic to identify transportation safety issues they’ve experienced in the county.
Every year, there are an average of 11.17 traffic deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. In Arlington, 0.84 traffic deaths per 100,000 people. That may be because the county encourages multi-modal transportation, like walking, biking, and taking public transportation.
Bureau Chief for Transportation and Operations Hui Wong says Vision Zero started in Europe to eliminate traffic death and severe injuries. More than 40 U.S. cities and localities have joined the movement. Arlington County is in the second stage of developing its Vision Zero Action Plan — a little behind schedule thanks to the coronavirus pandemic — and now it’s starting to engage with the public.
“This is one step that we try to capture the perceived safety from the public,” Wong said. “We have police data and crash reports but you often hear people say, ‘Well, just because there wasn’t a crash doesn’t mean I feel safe in this location.’ We tend to align those responses to see if we see a common pattern.”
So far, Wong says the team’s “high injury network” has identified the I-95, I-66, and Route 50 corridors as high incident areas. They’re also owned by the Virginia Department of Transportation. “We need to coordinate with the road owner and the state agency to come up with plans.”
“Vision Zero is not just engineering the road to make it safe,” Wong said. “You may be an engineer, you may be an educator, you may just be a community member and you may be a road user. All of you can do something about it. Because after all, safety is in our own hands.”