Ottawa

Kingston eyes 'Vision Zero' in effort to cut collisions

Every year, about 300 people are injured in collisions in Kingston, Ont. The city wants to reduce that number to zero.

Eastern Ontario city wants to eliminate all injuries from road crashes

Vehicles drive on Highway 401 westbound in Kingston, Ont., on Jan. 11, 2019. The city is embarking on a plan to eventually reduce all injuries caused by crashes on local roadways to zero. (Lars Hagberg/Canadian Press)

Every year, about 300 people are injured in collisions in Kingston, Ont. Eventually, the city would like to reduce that tragic tally to zero.

The eastern Ontario community has drafted a road safety plan that follows an international model called "Vision Zero," in the hopes of eliminating all injuries related to road collisions.

"What we wanted to do was to provide a long-term strategy to address road safety issues that are specific to Kingston," said Deanna Green, manager of the city's traffic division, on CBC Radio's All In A Day Thursday.

The Vision Zero model was first implemented in Sweden more than two decades ago, and since 2000 road deaths in the Scandinavian country have been cut in roughly half.

Green said her city looked more to other North American municipalities for inspiration, however.

"Some of those have worked incredibly well. I know that Edmonton has been at the forefront in Canada," she said.

"We have seen a drop in the collision rate there — probably by up to 50 per cent."

This heat map, generated by the City of Kingston as part of its Vision Zero plan, shows where collisions are concentrated. (City of Kingston)

Open for comments

The types of initiatives Kingston is looking to introduce can be found in a road safety plan city staff drafted earlier this year.

As part of that report, staff combed through five years of data to better understand the types of collisions happening in Kingston, Green said.

Residents were also asked about their traffic concerns, and their top concerns — drivers running red lights, distracted and impaired driving, and pedestrian and cyclist safety — all "lined up really well" with the data, Green said.

Green told All In A Day the plan sets out a number of broad initiatives that could be undertaken in the coming years, like reducing injuries among such "vulnerable users" as pedestrians and cyclists.

That might involve installing more pedestrian crossovers, Green said, or talking to the city's police force about better enforcement practices.

Residents now have until June 24 to provide feedback on the draft plan before it's brought before city council in August.

Green said the goal of Vision Zero isn't to see an immediate decrease in road collision injuries, but rather to set the stage for success down the road.

"It's a long-term strategy. We don't expect to see that needle moving in the next year or two ... after five years of the program, we think we could begin to at least evaluate the effectiveness of this plan."

Ottawa has not adopted Vision Zero, although safety advocates have called for the city to do so — particularly following the death of a cyclist last month in a downtown hit and run.

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