Across Texas, we continue to be in the midst of an epidemic of traffic violence. In the early stages of what has now become a statewide paradigm shift in how we think about this crisis, the City of Aus- tin took decisive action. Council adopted a goal to end traffic deaths by 2025 and begun the pro- cess of investing time and money into solving this. City staff have done remarkable work resulting in the City of Austin having a better understanding of the issues and solutions than most governments. The people of Austin broadly support the City’s work and want more action to save more lives.
Unfortunately in 2019, more families lost a loved one to traffic violence in the city than the year before for the first time since adoption of Vision Zero, and this January was a terrible month on our streets.
We request Mayor Adler and the Austin City Council decisively move to a new level of action on Vision Zero, such that we can be back on track this year to ending traffic deaths by 2025. Below are some ideas we think will improve this situation for all the people of Austin, but not a definitive list. We think trusting and empowering staff to iteratively improve this situation with bold solutions and a broad spectrum of responses is critical, but specifically feel council should strongly move forward on the following five concepts as part of broad support for staff’s efforts.
1-> Budgets That Match Our Priorities and the Scale of this Epidemic
The process for developing this year’s budget, the operating budgets passed this year, and the safe, multimodal package proposed to voters in November should give top priority to ending traffic deaths.
2-> Quickly Moving Forward on Speed Management Citywide
We want safe 25mph neighborhood streets citywide, safer speed limits on our major streets, and design changes on the ground to make everyone feel comfortable driving at safe speeds.
3-> Strategic Public Health Based Enforcement Targeted to Saving Lives
We should focus existing public health and police resources on addressing this public health crisis, including increasing the priority of traffic violence within the budgets of those departments.
4-> Rapid Action, Smart Ongoing Analysis, Iteration, And More Rapid Action
Our transportation system is more dangerous than most other wealthy cities in the world. We can try new things. We can rapidly deploy changes. We must act citywide and empower staff to do it.
5-> Make The Hard Choices to Save Lives
Much of our transportation and urban planning system in Texas has wholly failed us, and we’re used to it failing us, which means people don’t understand things are dangerous. We need leaders to act.
Kathy Sokolic, Chair of Central Texas Families for Safe Streets, and Jay Blazek Crossley, Director of Vision Zero Texas, will present these requests to the Austin Mayor and City Council at noon on Thursday, February 6, 2020.
A longer explanation of some of the ways the city could give stronger priority on these five focus areas is in the report below (pdf).