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West Palm Beach seeing results from Vision Zero initiative

Posted at 2:46 PM, Jan 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-30 19:35:02-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The city of West Palm Beach has a goal of zero fatalities and zero serious injuries on its roadways by the year 2030, and is on its way with the Vision Zero initiative.

Recent data from the City of West Palm Beach shows a more than 20 percent decline for crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists, 23 percent and 26.7 percent, respectively, from 2017 to 2018.

The Vision Zero program launched in August 2018.

"We were already headed in the right direction, and with the adoption of Vision Zero late last summer, which is already showing measurable effects, we know we can achieve our goals to minimize, and eventually eliminate, major injuries and fatalities on our city roads," said Mayor Jeri Muoio.

The driving force behind the program is the three E's: engineering, education and enforcement.

City traffic engineer Uyen Dang says it is all about designing safer streets for everyone.

"We target corridors, we look at how do we bring safety to our most vulnerable and those are our bicyclists and pedestrians. We need to design for wider sidewalks and we need to design for safer biking environments," said Dang.

"We continue to use data to identify the highest crash intersections and most problematic streets. Once identified, we are then engineering solutions to improve the street for all users," said Tara Applebaum, the city's Vision Zero coordinator.

The next target areas are Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard and the Broadway corridor. The city says it will begin working on planning studies to see how to make improvements in those areas. In the short term, they'll look at things like signage and crosswalks.

One third of the crashes on Broadway involve bicyclists or pedestrians, according to the city.

West Palm Beach Police Chief Sarah Mooney says she hopes less enforcement is needed, with more engineering and education.

"We’re hopeful we don't have to a lot of enforcement if we get involved in the education piece of this, and teach people where they should be crossing appropriately, where they should be paying attention to the road instead of looking at their phones while driving," Chief Mooney says. "If you pay attention to the rules that are out there and we provide the safe environment, our goal of zero fatalities with the pedestrians is a reality and could be a reality."

As part of the program, Vision Zero is doing community programs like school events and older driver awareness workshops.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, the city will host a Vision Zero Community Safety Fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The free, interactive workshop will take place along Flagler Drive and include free helmet fittings and helmet giveaways while supplies last, a bicycle rodeo, driver safety tips, a rollover crash demonstration, a West Palm Beach Fire Rescue truck for exploration, and more.