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Introducing Vision Zero Houston

Have you heard about Vision Zero?
Vision Zero is the elimination of all traffic fatalities and serious injuries. The first initiative of its kind took place in Sweden in 1994. After implementing the initiative, the number of traffic-related deaths has gone down considerably while traffic volume has continued to increase. The crucial point of Sweden’s Vision Zero Initiative is summarized on their website: “Transport systems traditionally place responsibility for safety on road users. The Vision Zero Initiative puts this responsibility on system design.” Thus, Houston’s most dangerous roads, intersections, and bike lanes must be fixed before our Vision Zero can be achieved.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, there were 180 fatal car crashes and road traffic accidents in 2013, and 188 fatalities. In 2014, those numbers rose to 214 fatal car crashes and 227 fatalities. With Vision Zero, we want to bring these numbers down to 0.

In March of 2014, Mayor Annise Parker dedicated $50,000 towards the Houston Bike Plan, which had its own Goal Zero specifically to eliminate bicycle fatalities in Houston. While this is a great effort towards safety on the roads, more must be done to include not just bicycles, but cars and other vehicles as well.

We need to follow in the foot steps of cities like New York, San Diego, and San Antonio to adopt an Action Plan that will bring Houston’s Vision Zero to life. We want to build a network of support to bring about this initiative, so join us in establishing Vision Zero in Houston.

SIGN THE PETITION

For more information and opportunities, visit the Vision Zero Houston section of our site.

Our request to the City of Houston

The Houston Coalition for Complete Streets submitted a packet of information to Mayor Annise Parker and all members of the Houston City Council expressing the request of citizens through the petition and how the Coalition believes the City could best proceed on implementing reasonable and efficient short terms solutions while beginning work on transformative changes that may take five to ten years.

The Path to Complete Streets (pdf)
Our one-pager describing the argument for Complete Streets for Houston and our 15 recommendations for making the streets safer for all users this year.

Toward Complete Streets for Houston (pdf)
Report describing 15 recommendations that the City of Houston could implement this year and including a narrative discussion of a complete Complete Streets strategy for the City.

Comments added to the petition for Complete Streets for Houston (pdf)
As of mid June 2012, 1355 people have signed the petition.  Many have commented.  We compiled the comments and sent them to our elected representatives at the City of Houston unedited except for several minor mistakes that we felt were typing errors, perhaps on a phone.

Statement of City of Houston PWE to City Council
May 8, 2012
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Gary Norman with City of Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering (PWE) prepared the following statement for Houston City Council Members for a public comment “pop off” session where many representatives of the Houston Coalition for Complete Streets spoke about the benefits of Complete Streets:

“The Public Works & Engineering Department supports the use of roadway design criteria which considers the needs of all classes of users – pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists. Further, while the City’s design manual currently contains standards which accommodate this broad range of roadway users, the Department is working to add language to encourage the use of context-sensitive design principles.”

Houston Chronicle Editorial: Why we need Complete Streets

People 65 and older make up around 14 percent of Texas drivers. But of course, as baby boomers hit retirement age, their share of the road is growing fast: In a little over 10 years, they’re expected to make up 20 percent.

That matters. Earlier this week, TRIP, a transportation-industry research group, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials released a sobering study. Senior drivers, it turns out, account for only 8 percent of the miles driven in the United States but are involved in 17 percent of the fatal accidents.

To make driving safer for seniors, TRIP recommends various changes, including brighter lighting, added left-turn lanes, longer freeway merge and exit lanes, fatter highway dividing stripes and simpler signs. Those upgrades, we think, are a good idea. They’d make driving safer for all drivers. But basically, they’re a Band-Aid for a much larger problem.

According to the AARP, seniors outlive their ability to drive by an average of six to 10 years. Brighter lights, simpler signs and such might add a couple of months to the period that seniors can drive safely – but not much more, we’re afraid. And the urge to continue driving, long after you’re no longer safe, will remain.

In a car-centric city like Houston, giving up driving too often means resigning yourself to staying home. It becomes difficult to buy groceries, go to doctor’s appointments and see friends. Maybe you have to leave your home in the neighborhood you love. Life shrinks abruptly.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. What if you were able to go to interesting places without getting in a car?

For this reason, across the country, the AARP is urging cities and states to build “Complete Streets” – streets designed not just for drivers but also for pedestrians, bikers, transit riders, restaurateurs and shop owners. Instead of just making it easier to drive on our streets, the organization suggests making them safer, more satisfying places to be, whether you’re driving or not.

Complete Streets have narrow traffic lanes, wide sidewalks and easy crossings. Often, they include bike lanes, landscaping and street parking. With all those visual cues, cars naturally move more slowly. The slower traffic helps small businesses thrive, and those businesses make the place lively. You wouldn’t set up a sidewalk cafe on a freeway. But on a Complete Street, it feels natural.

A Complete Street becomes the center of its neighborhood, a destination not just for seniors but for people of all ages. It’s where adults bump into each other and where kids too young to drive can taste a little freedom.

And those young, well-educated people whom Houston employers are always striving to attract are particularly fond of such places. (See, for example, South Congress in Austin.)

Right now is the time to demand Complete Streets in neighborhoods all across town. Houston’s development, parking and infrastructure-design codes are all being updated now; MetroRail is about to radically expand; and the city is planning a wave of Rebuild Houston-related street renovation.

Complete Streets would go a long way toward helping seniors’ isolation. And they’d make life better for the rest of us, too.

Full Story: Why we need Complete Streets
Source: Houston Chronicle, February 24, 2012

Join the movement for Complete Streets

What is a complete street?
It’s a street for everybody to use.
• Takes into account all users of the street, not just those in cars.
• A safe corridor for people traveling by foot, bicycle, transit, and car.
• Cost effective because it provides travel options and reduces congestion.

About 40% of Houstonians do not drive.
For some, it’s a question of money, others are disabled, some may be too old, some are too young, and some just choose not to drive.
All of them have access needs and obstacles , and all of their frustration and difficulties tend to be hindrances to health, happiness, and prosperity.

A movement is growing to complete the streets.
States, cities, towns, and neighborhoods are asking their planners and engineers to build road networks that are safer, more livable, and welcoming to everyone.

Complete Streets (pdf)

Partner Commitment Form

Benefits for partners:

  • Opportunity to work closely with and learn from experienced community partners.
  • Use of the Complete the Streets logo and communications materials in promoting the campaign, calls to action, and events.
  • Participation in earned media that ties partner organizations’ work to an important initiative.
  • Invitation to participate in the Houston Coalition for Complete Streets steering committee and working groups to direct communications, outreach, and policy strategies.

If your organization, business, public entity, or civic group would like to become a partner in the Houston Coalition for Complete Streets, please download the .doc or .pdf form and send it back to us.