Last Fall, Fremont became the first East Bay city to adopt a Vision Zero policy. Fremont’s Vice Mayor at the time, Suzanne Chan, worked with the city council to adopt the policy with support from Hans Larsen, Fremont’s City Engineer. Hans, who previously worked as San Jose’s Director of Transportation, helped pen their Vision Zero action plan. Photo courtesy of City of Fremont.
The policy was adopted in September and staff is currently working on an action plan, set to be released in March.
Bike East Bay spoke with Hans Larsen about his plans:
Vision Zero is an initiative based on a Swedish concept that traffic deaths are not accidents and are preventable. Typically, Vision Zero policies look to the 5 Es to fix underlying issues: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Evaluation and Encouragement. The focus in Fremont, the City Engineer says, will be on safer streets and engineering. “We want to improve and better our transportation system through strategic use of existing investments. Thanks to Measure BB, we have the resources to do so.”
“Vision zero is a shift in thinking about safety and the kind of data you collect and the how it informs your priorities,” said Larsen.
Data will play a key part in pinpointing issues to address and understanding where and why the most severe collisions occur. In 2015, there were 34 severe - 8 of them fatal - collisions, which was consistent with numbers from the last couple of years. Half of those involved pedestrians and bicyclists. “Less than 10% of crashes are severe, but you still have to focus on them” said Larsen.
The action plan that the City of Fremont is developing will focus on a number of different goals. We can expect to see proposals for physically separated bike lanes, improvements to make intersections safer, an increase in pedestrian countdown signals at large intersections (currently in place at only 10% of signalized intersections), improved lighting (particularly on Fremont Blvd where 4 of the 8 fatalities occurred), and more. The overarching goal for bicycling will be to achieve a 2% mode share, a point at which Larsen says bicycling will reach a critical mass and be viewed as commonplace, incurring more cautious driving from motorists.
The Vision Zero action plan is scheduled to be released by March 2016. This will dovetail nicely with the city’s Bicycle Master Plan update, which will “strengthen Fremont’s vision of its goals in terms of being a bike friendly city and will set our priorities,” said Larsen. Fremont has hired consultants Fehr and Peers to conduct the plan update. Look for community events and workshops to begin in Spring.
In the news: ‘Vision Zero Fremont’ plan aims to eliminate traffic deaths - San Jose Mercury News, 10/01/2015