Will you join us in committing to a future where our streets are community open spaces, safe for our children, our grandparents, and everyone else who uses them?
Santa Monica redoubled its commitment to a future of universally safe streets last week when the city released its draft Pedestrian Action Plan, listing as a top community priority Vision Zero, the idea that all our streets should be planned and designed with the underlying principle that safety for all those who use them as the top priority.
Now it is up to us, as members of this community and users of its streets, to achieve this ambitious — yet attainable — future.
As the Plan puts it, “Vision Zero Santa Monica acts as an agreement between the community and City to coordinate efforts and concentrate on the elimination of traffic injuries and fatalities.”
We must commit, as individuals, to increasing our own awareness of others with whom we share the streets; we must commit to holding ourselves responsible for our own behavior on the road; and we must commit to supporting programs, plans, and strategies that put people — not cars — first on our public streets.
Vision Zero, which began in Sweden and has since spread throughout the world, benefits everyone. No one wants to feel as if they are taking their lives into their hands simply when they are out on an afternoon stroll, driving an older relative to a doctor’s appointment, or riding a bike to school.
While this may sound like common sense, there are still streets in our city, like Olympic, Lincoln, and parts of Wilshire, for example, which were designed to move cars through our neighborhoods at highway speeds at the expense of our safety.
Success stories, like the redesign of Ocean Park Boulevard near John Adams Middle School, show us that Vision Zero is a realizable goal and not, as some detractors would have you believe, a flight of utopian fancy.
Simply by redesigning that stretch of Ocean Park Boulevard saw a 65 percent drop in the number of collisions, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
As we strive to create complete neighborhoods, as our burgeoning Downtown is becoming, Vision Zero becomes even more vital.
If we want a world in which people can live, work, access quality transit, and find their daily necessities within comfortable walking, biking, or rolling — for those who may rely on wheelchairs or other assistance for mobility — distance from home, safety must come first.
So, will you join us in working toward this future?
Laurie Brenner, Grace Phillips, Cynthia Rose, Dwight Flowers, Judy Abdo, Sharon and John Hart, Jerry Rubin, Claire Bowen, and Jason Islas for Santa Monica Forward. Read previous columns at santamonicaforward.org.