May 6, 2017 • Los Angeles
In January the city announced its participation in Vision Zero, a plan to “end all traffic deaths,” although my understanding of it is that it’s about reducing the number of pedestrian hit-and-runs. I also can’t figure out (read: am unwilling to dedicate the research time) to determining whether Vision Zero is an initiative of the city, as the city claims on its website, or if it’s a partnership or hijacking of a previously existing nonprofit. City politicians don’t usually initiate anything that doesn’t benefit their constituency, meaning property developers, and it’s hard to see how reducing hit-and-runs would benefit them.
Regardless, the idea is laudable, although eliminating all traffic deaths in a car-based city of four million people by 2025 sounds like a pipe dream. Some of the ideas proposed are unenforceable—reducing speed limits on some streets, for example; drivers blissfully ignore speed limits now, and there just aren’t the resources to strong-arm drivers into slowing down.
I suspect Vision Zero is essentially another underfunded wish-list project to divert the outrage and efforts of city residents who’ve lost loved ones to automobile carnage. There’s a militant and vocal coalition of bicyclists in town too, and so far they seem to be onboard with Vision Zero. Whatever the real goals are, preventing even a few hit-and-run deaths may be worth the lip service.