Vancouver Aims to Be Safest City for Pedestrians by 2040

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Since 1997, traffic fatalities in Vancouver have declined dramatically. And if city councillors have their way, that number could plunge all the way to zero in the not so distant future.

A new motion introduced in council paves the way for the city to implement plans to reduce traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries to zero by the year 2040. The motion builds on a 2012 roadmap plotted out in Vancouver’s landmark Transportation 2040 plan.

β€œOur ultimate goal is to eliminate all fatalities within our active transportation system and make sure road users feel safe and comfortable getting around Vancouver, whether by bike, foot, car or transit,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement.

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

The new motion directs city staff to take concrete steps toward jumpstarting the ambitious plan. A review of best practices from other cities will be followed by an action plan to achieve zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries. Finally, councillors want the city to speed up the plan’s implementation with the goal of making city streets safer now.

In recent years, Vancouver’s streets have become noticeably friendlier to bikers and pedestrians. Dedicated bike lanes have reduced bike-vehicle collisions and 12 additional lanes are planned within the next five years. Meanwhile, rapid-flashing beacons are currently being tested at three pedestrian crosswalks in high-traffic areas. In total, the city has already implemented 68 of 69 priority recommendations included as part of a previous pedestrian safety study.

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Photo credit: Paul Krueger | Flickr

Still, there’s room for improvement. Pedestrians are the most vulnerable demographic on streets today, accounting for 40 of 72 traffic fatalities in Vancouver between 2010 and 2014. Four cyclists were killed in that same period, as well as nine drivers, 11 passengers and eight motorcyclists.

Once the new motion passes, staff will report to council with some immediate recommendations in June. Longer-term policies will be prepared by November 2016, with a goal of bringing together a comprehensive vision that includes improved road design, better sidewalks and increased lighting and signalling.

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