The city of Austin’s Vision Zero plan is heading to the full city council for final approval next week with the blessing of the city’s Mobility Committee, which voted to send the plan to the full council Monday.
Francis Reilly of the city’s planning department told the Mobility Committee that traffic deaths are a public health problem, like smoking or seat belt use.
“We’re going to need to raise awareness, change regulations, enforce those regulations and build safety into the design. And that’s really what Vision Zero is about,” Reilly said.
The city’s plan includes more than 60 recommendations to improve traffic safety through street design, law enforcement, education campaigns and possible policy changes at the local and legislative level. Some are underway, but many will take time to fully implement – and a lot of them still need funding. Mobility committee chair Ann Kitchen said that’s one reason she wanted to approve the plan.
“I would like to be able to get as soon as possible our city staff and city manager working on these recommendations, particularly under the first item where things they can immediately recommend, I mean, immediately act on.”
The Mobility committee voted 3 to 1 to send the plan to the full council, but Council Member Don Zimmerman voted against it. The goal of transportation should be to move people from one place to another, he said, not to prevent injuries.
“I would rather us focus on the 90 percent of people who are really frustrated and are stuck in traffic. To me, that ought to be our focus. And we still haven’t been addressing traffic congestion relief. I don’t like this focus,” Zimmerman said.
While this plan does not deal with congestion, the city does have a separate Traffic Congestion Action Plan. The Vision Zero report is expected to come before the city council about six months later than its deadline.
All this week KUT is focusing on Austin’s traffic fatality problem and the city's efforts to reduce the number of fatal traffic crashes to zero. So, we’re calling the series The Road to Zero. You can find more stories and learn more about the plan here at roadtozero.kut.org.
This story was produced as part of KUT's reporting partnership with the Austin Monitor.