The Watsonville City Council approved developing a plan aimed at eliminating deaths and serious injuries on the city’s roads by the year 2030. The decision to become the first public agency in Santa Cruz County to implement Vision Zero was made at the January 16, 2018 Council meeting.
Vision Zero was first implemented 30 years ago in Sweden, then Europe and now in major American cities such as Chicago, New York and Seattle and California cities such as Monterey, Sacramento and San Jose. Vision Zero acknowledges that traffic deaths and severe injuries are preventable and seeks to eliminate them with clear, measurable strategies. It uses a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together diverse stakeholders to address a complex problem.
Watsonville Principal Engineer Murray Fontes noted that the goals of Vision Zero complement work being done by City staff such as a recent City Police Department grant funding Bike Smart and Walk Smart programs at local elementary schools and two Airport Boulevard Improvement projects to be done later this year that include new sidewalks, flashing beacons at pedestrian crossings and reconstruction of the existing roads and bike lanes.
The Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency introduced Vision Zero to agencies within Santa Cruz County last year and supports its implementation. City staff will work with the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, other south county agencies concerned with traffic safety and the public to develop an action plan within the next year.
Watsonville Councilmember Felipe Hernandez, a major supporter of Vision Zero, noted that this is certainly the right step in the right direction, to minimize bike and pedestrian collisions and fatalities so that eventually we’ll bring it down to zero.