GObike News

August 12, 2019

Hit-and-Run Cyclist Injury Highlights Need for Vision Zero Policy

Another person on a bike was hit early this morning on Elmwood Avenue and Breckenridge Street in a hit-and-run incident while the 17-year-old was biking with a group of 10 friends. The cyclist is being treated for, thankfully, non-life threatening injuries. We wish her a speedy recovery. 

While we urge all cyclists to practice safe bicycling behaviors and we offer classes on said behavior (if you’re interested in a smart cycling class, please get in touch!), the odds of staying safe are stacked against us regardless of safe behavior. With the priority of street design being ease and access for motor vehicles alone since the 1950s, our infrastructure is woefully inadequate in encouraging safe interactions between motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.  

Cities across the nation, including New York City, Seattle, Portland, and Washington, DC, are addressing this problem by committing to Vision Zero with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries. 

What’s Vision Zero?
First implemented in the 1990s in Sweden, Vision Zero has proven success in Europe, catching the interest of leading cities across the US.

“For too long, we’ve considered traffic deaths and severe injuries to be inevitable side effects of modern life. While often referred to as “accidents,” the reality is that we can prevent these tragedies by taking a proactive, preventative approach that prioritizes traffic safety as a public health issue.”

According to their website, Vision Zero is different from the status quo approach because of two tenets: 

1. Vision Zero recognizes that people will sometimes make mistakes, so the road system and related policies should be designed to ensure those inevitable mistakes do not result in severe injuries or fatalities. This means that system designers and policymakers are expected to improve the roadway environment, policies (such as speed management), and other related systems to lessen the severity of crashes.

2. Vision Zero is a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together diverse and necessary stakeholders to address this complex problem. In the past, meaningful, cross-disciplinary collaboration among local traffic planners and engineers, policymakers, and public health professionals has not been the norm. Vision Zero acknowledges that many factors contribute to safe mobility -- including roadway design, speeds, behaviors, technology, and policies -- and sets clear goals to achieve the shared goal of zero fatalities and severe injuries.

We want Buffalo to adopt a Vision Zero strategy. If you agree, we encourage you to contact your common council representatives and 311 to encourage adoption of a policy. 

In the mean time, while our roadways continue to underserve our most vulnerable users, here are some tips for everyone on how to create safe interactions amongst diverse road users: 

  • Cyclists, motorists, and pedestrians: be predictable. Obey street signs, signals and road markings. Respect each other's right of way. 
  • Remember, cyclists have the right to to use the road and take the space needed to safely operate. Bikes belong on the street. Sidewalks are only allowed for children 14 and under. 
  • Motorists: speed kills. Slow down. 20 mph is plenty on urban streets. Pay attention to cyclists and pedestrians and do not drive while distracted.
  • Bicyclists, use hand signals to communicate your intentions to turn, change lanes or stop. New York State requires a white front light and red rear light from dusk to dawn, and a sound making devise at all times. Ride in the same direction as traffic. 
Hit-and-Run Cyclist Injury Highlights Need for Vision Zero Policy