This article describes Vision Zero Lessons Learned for Boca Raton from two other cities. One city failed to implement a safety culture and one did. The Boca Raton City Council should take heed.
So far, the US Department of Transportation has awarded 511 US communities $800 million in grants to eliminate roadway fatalities and serious injuries 2022 SS4A Awards | US Department of Transportation. Many cities have several years of planning and implementation experience that Boca Raton can use to inform its Vision Zero program. Regarding Vision Zero, the Federal Highway Administration stresses the importance implementing a “safety culture” at all levels of government:
The extent to which safety is valued and pursued by an organization indicates the strength of that organization’s safety culture. The organization proactively elevates road safety as a priority for its employees
On September 26, 2023, BocaFirst published an article comparing the Vision Zero implementations of two US cities – Portland Oregon and Jersey City New Jersey Vision Zero Lessons Learned for Boca Raton – BocaFirst. The conclusion was that Portland is failing and Jersey City is succeeding. Some major reasons for these results were presented in the article.
The following article references the Vision Zero experiences of two other cities – Dallas Texas and Edmonton Alberta Canada. Both cities have similar populations and demographics. Dallas is failing in their Vision Zero implementation while Edmonton is succeeding. Dallas also has the highest roadway fatality rate of any US city greater than one million residents Dallas traffic death rate worst among 10 largest U.S. cities – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth (nbcdfw.com)
Why Dallas and Edmonton
An investigative news team from the Dallas area noticed that there didn’t seem to be any significant reduction in roadway fatalities and serious injuries from Vision Zero in four years and decided to find out why. Their exposé “Dallas plan to cut traffic deaths rolls slowly years after council OK’d ‘Vision Zero’ – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth (nbcdfw.com)” includes a telling and informative video that is a warning to cities who treat Vision Zero as just a press release and fail to implement systemic changes to funding and city staffing. NOTABLE QUOTE:
In the last ten years we’ve seen a direct link between the width of travel lanes and the way they are designed to how fast people drive.
In addition to analyzing the lack of Vision Zero progress in Dallas the team analyzed Vision Zero progress in Edmonton for comparison purposes.
A major difference in the two Vision Zero implementations regards funding. The above referenced article on Edmonton notes that Dallas has spent $1.7 Million on Vision Zero since it was approved by the city in 2019. Edmonton, on the other hand spends US$130 Million per year on Vision Zero focused projects.
Program funding is an indicator of how serious a city is regarding meeting Vision Zero goals. But so is the culture of a city’s leadership.
The BocaFirst article Vision Zero Lessons for Boca Raton has a table of lessons learned with detailed descriptions for Boca Raton from the Portland/Jersey City analysis. Following are some additional lessons learned from the Dallas/Edmonton analysis.
Descriptions of Dallas/Edmonton Lessons Learned
Street Lab Program for Engaging Residents
While Edmonton has a data-driven demonstration/quick build program like Jersey City they also have an innovative, structured program that encourages residents to submit and help implement projects Vision Zero Street Labs | City of Edmonton.
Scope Total Program and Budget Accordingly
Earlier in this article we indicated that Dallas has spent $1.7 Million in four years on Vision Zero planning and implementation. By comparison. Edmonton spends US$130 Million per year on Vision Zero focused projects. Boca Raton is receiving a $300K USDOT grant and is contributing $79K to create a Vision Zero action plan.
Create Vision Zero Department
Edmonton and Jersey City reorganized their transportation groups to create a separate department just focused on Vision Zero planning and implementation. Dallas and Portland overlayed Vision Zero planning and implementation responsibilities on their existing organization structure. As a result, Vision Zero gets inadequate attention in Dallas and Portland.
Detailed Program Management and Tracking
It’s obvious that Vision Zero was not a priority program in Dallas. It took an outside news investigative team to alert the city council that the program was failing. And that was four years after the city council adopted Vision Zero goals. The city staff doesn’t seem to have an effective program management system in place and the city council doesn’t seem to receive timely reports on the status of the program.
Detailed Action Plan with Specific Milestones
Dallas’ Vision Zero Action Plan was rejected by the Vision Zero Network organization About | Vision Zero Network due to a lack of concrete steps to reduce high speeds. As of August 2022, there were 53 Vision Zero communities in the US. To be recognized as a Vision Zero community an action plan must have very explicit timelines, strategies and ownership.
This article summarizes Vision Zero Lessons Learned for Boca Raton from two other cities. Edmonton seems to be on-schedule to meet its goals and Dallas seems to be failing. Boca Raton can learn valuable lessons from both cities.