Fort Worth approves a Vision Zero policy to improve traffic safety

Vision Zero

The City Council voted to adopt a Vision Zero resolution supporting the creation of a Vision Zero policy and action plan at its Nov. 19 meeting.

Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and serious injuries through policies and regulations that prioritize safe, multi-model streets. The basic principles of a Vision Zero policy state that there is no acceptable level of fatality or injury on our streets; traffic deaths are not accidents — they are preventable crashes; and the public should expect safe behavior on city streets.

A Vision Zero action plan is being developed to establish goals and objectives, analyze data, gather input from stakeholders, identify safety improvements, and evaluate and implement programs.

In the interim, city staff has taken advantage of several opportunities to integrate the Vision Zero strategy into current and future projects, including capital projects, the Active Transportation Plan and leveraging opportunities with partner agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation and the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

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Vision Zero is a world-wide strategy to eliminate all traffic vehicle-related

fatalities and severe injuries through policies and regulations which prioritize safe multi-modal streets. The basic principles of the strategy are that traffic vehicle-related fatalities and serious injuries are not accidents, but instead are preventable crashes; there is no acceptable level of fatalities or injuries on streets; and the public should expect safe behavior on city streets.

In 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) designated Fort Worth as a Focus City, one that has a high rate of pedestrian fatalities. In September of this year, the Transportation and Public Works Department participated in a FHWA Focus City Peer Exchange in Austin.

There were 96,000-plus crashes from 2014 to 2018 in Fort Worth, and nearly 250,000

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people were involved in those crashes. Of those, over 1,000 people died and almost 7,000 people suffered a serious injury.

Pedestrian fatalities have increased by 100%, and serious injuries have increased by 27% over a five-year period. Over 140 people died and more than 700 were seriously injured while walking in Fort Worth.

Fatalities represent 9% of people involved in pedestrian crashes but less than 1% of people involved in vehicle crashes.

Four people died, and over 300 people were seriously injured while biking in Fort Worth.

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“Since first taking office, I have continuously advocated for a variety of safe street initiatives from the review of speed limits in neighborhoods to uplifting the Pedestrian and Bicycling Advisory Commission’s work,” District 9 Councilwoman Ann Zadeh said. “The Vision Zero Strategy complements work already underway, such as the Active Transportation Plan, and is the right next step for Fort Worth as we aim to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries.”

The city has, over the past decade, put several plans in place to make Fort Worth safer.

*In February, 2010, Bike Fort Worth Plan, developing a bicycle friendly environment.

*March, 2011, Safe Passing Ordinance, establishes minimum separation distances when motorized vehicles are passing vulnerable road users.

*October, 2014, Walk Fort Worth Plan, comprehensive pedestrian transportation plan intended to create a more pedestrian friendly environment for those who wish to walk for their health or for transportation to local destinations.

*January, 2014, Blue Zones Project, which commits the City to considering evidence-based policies and implementing programs intended to improve the vitality of residents and business, creating greater opportunity for all to make healthy choices.

*March, 2015, Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Commission, which is responsible for providing recommendations on pedestrian and bicycle plans, policies, programs and projects to improve the environment for non-motorized travelers.

*May, 2016, Master Thoroughfare Plan Update which is grounded in a Complete Streets philosophy wherein streets and roads are to be appropriately designed and constructed to reflect all transportation users and support the surrounding land uses.

April, 2019, Active Transportation Plan, which identifies, evaluates, and prioritizes for implementation, gaps in pedestrian and bike infrastructure citywide.

Opportunities for Vision Zero integration include:

Capital Projects

*Safe Routes to School program.

*Sidewalk projects.

*Intersection improvements.

*Traffic signal improvements.

*Active Transportation Plan.

Partner Agency Project Leveraging Opportunities

*Texas Department of Transportation.

*•North Central Texas Council of Governments.

*Independent school districts.

*Trinity Metro.

*Tarrant County.

School Safety Approach

*Signs, markings, and beacons at all schools within the City of Fort Worth will be updated on a three-year rotation.

*Between eight and 11 schools per council district will be updated each year.

*Priority will be given to elementary schools in Year One.

*Secondary schools and other private schools within the immediate vicinity to

elementary schools will also be evaluated as a priority.

Other focuses will be on crosswalks, signal timing, leading pedestrian intervals, pedestrian hybrid beacons, rapid rectangular flashing beacons, and pavement applications.

Officials are proposing as part of pavement applications NovaChip or rubberized

asphalt in 11 locations with high recurring accident data where signage has proven

ineffective. NovaChip provides a darker pavement to maintain contrast with pavement markings and increase visibility.

The Vision Zero Action Plan includes:

*Step 1 – Update Pedestrian Safety Action Plan currently part of the WalkFW Plan.

*Step 2 – Develop a task force featuring City of Fort Worth staff, MedStar, ISDs, etc.