39 people were killed while walking in Nashville in 2020, the most people ever killed in Nashville’s history.
In January 2020, after years of advocacy by Walk Bike Nashville and our partners, 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.
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 and planning process, the lack of urgency in implementing road safety improvements 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 was an increase in fatal crashes involving pedestrians in 2020. 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 said it himself,
“We killed 32 people in our streets last year [in 2019], [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.”
We couldn’t agree more. It is imperative we do everything we can to stop these preventable deaths and injuries on our streets.
What can I do to help?
Get involved in the Mayor's Vision Zero planning process. The Mayor's Vision Zero planning process is currently underway. It includes a deep dive into crash data to develop priorities for safety improvements and multiple efforts to gather input from community members. In 2021, we expect to see a Vision Zero website to gather input, an online survey, meetings, and focus groups. Walk Bike Nashville will be sharing updates about how to get involved with the Vision Zero process on our social media and email list so make sure you are signed up and follow us. Nora Kern, WBN Executive Director and Lindsey Ganson, Advocacy Director are both serving on the Mayor's Vision Zero task force so be in touch if you have ideas about how to make sure this Planning process is a success. The resulting Vision Zero Plan, scheduled to be published in Nov. 2021, will be the key element to determining more focused priorities and projects toward Vision Zero.
Know the numbers and understand the human toll behind them. Learn more about Nashville’s crash statistics in our fact sheet here.
Get involved and attend our next monthly Advocacy Corner meeting on the third Wednesday of the month at 6pm. At this meeting, you'll hear updates on all of our advocacy work and learn how to plug in and contribute. Register to join the meeting via Zoom or watch the livestream through our Facebook.
We also have a group for people who have lost loved ones in traffic crashes called Families for Safe Streets. The group is in its early stages but is intended to provide a safe space for people who have lost someone or been injured to support one another. If you have any questions or want to join our group, please email [email protected] The group meets on the fourth Monday of every month at 6pm via Zoom. Register via Zoom here.