What Vision Zero Means for Nashville

In an effort to create a public dialogue around what Vision Zero policies will work best for Nashville, we are launching a Vision Zero Speaker Series.


32 people were killed while walking in Nashville in 2019, the most people ever killed in Nashville’s history. 

In January 2020, after years of advocacy by Walk Bike Nashville, Mayor Cooper made a bold commitment to a Vision Zero goal at our Day of Remembrance event. Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy and equitable mobility. Vision Zero policies are in effect in over 40 American cities and in many more cities across the world. Vision Zero refocuses the government's role in road safety to center on improving the transportation system, instead of attempting to change the behavior of individuals. 

In an effort to create a public dialogue around what Vision Zero policies will work best for Nashville, we are hosting a Vision Zero Speaker Series. Our first event, What Vision Zero Means for Nashville, took place on May 19, 2020. Follow us on social media or sign-up for our emails to be sure you receive updates about our next event.  

What is Vision Zero?

Committing to Vision Zero requires the following strategies, according to the mayor's office:

  • Building and sustaining leadership, collaboration and accountability — especially among a diverse group of stakeholders to include transportation professionals, policymakers, public health officials, police and community members.
  • Collecting, analyzing and using data to understand trends and potential disproportionate impacts of traffic deaths on certain populations.
  • Prioritizing equity and community engagement.
  • Managing speed to safe levels.
  • Setting a timeline to achieve zero traffic deaths and serious injuries, which brings urgency and accountability, and ensuring transparency on progress and challenges.

Read more about Vision Zero strategies here.

What has Nashville done to implement Vision Zero?

While we are encouraged the Mayor’s Office is moving ahead with a Vision Zero Action Plan study, the lack of funds allocated toward road safety improvements in the Mayor’s recent budget proposals is concerning. Waiting another year to make improvements could inevitably mean more loss of life due to unsafe speeds and inhumane street design — tragic impacts to communities and families that can and should be prevented.

Even with a tornado and a global pandemic, there has been a 33 percent increase in fatal crashes involving pedestrians this year, compared to this same period last year. There have been 125 total crashes involving pedestrians year to date and ten pedestrians killed. With fewer cars on the road, drivers can increase their speeds, which makes for very dangerous conditions for everyone but especially pedestrians.   

Every person killed is a loss to our community. Mayor Cooper recently said,

“We killed 32 people in our streets last year, [that] is just pedestrians, because of bad intersections. That is a very high number. There is really no reason for so many people to be killed on our streets as pedestrians. We can do better. Most of these problems come from very specific, knowable intersections that have been identified since 2014 and almost none of them have received any work at all. So the trick of transportation is to get on it and stop being paralyzed, stop kicking the can down the road, start getting something done.” 

--Mayor Cooper’s Remarks at Rotary Club of Nashville, February 10, 2020

We couldn’t agree more. But with an ambitious Vision Zero goal set yet a very limited budget proposed, it is hard to know what the Mayor, Metro Public Works and MNPD will be able to accomplish. But it is imperative we do everything we can to stop these preventable deaths and injuries on our streets.  

What can I do to help?

Watch the recording of our Vision Zero Speaker Series event to hear from local and national experts

Know the numbers and understand the human toll behind them. Learn more about Nashville’s crash statistics in our fact sheet here.