Windsor

A new transportation 'philosophy': Windsor moves forward with Vision Zero

Windsor city council has given administration the green light to put together a Vision Zero Policy, in an effort to shift how the city approaches road traffic safety.

Vision Zero is a framework that aims to achieve a transportation system with zero fatalities

Chris Holt first brought the idea for Vision Zero to council last year. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Windsor city council has given administration the green light to put together a Vision Zero Policy, in order to shift how the city approaches road traffic safety.

"This is a philosophy change," said Klaus Dohring, an engineer with Green Sun Rising, who was one of the speakers at Monday's council meeting.

This approach, he explained, requires a change in thinking.

Vision Zero is a road traffic framework that aims to achieve a transportation system with zero fatalities or serious injuries — by shifting the responsibility of safety away from the onus of individuals, and making it more of a shared responsibility between road users and the municipality.

No longer accepting death and injury as 'inevitable'

Council heard from three delegates, including Jennifer Escott with Bike Windsor Essex.  All delegates urged the city to move forward with the project.

Jennifer Escott spoke to council Monday night urging them to move forward with Vision Zero. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"We can no longer accept death and injury as the inevitable cost of moving around our community," said Escott, stressing that everyone will benefit from this system and that it would make Windsor's streets safer for all.

It was Coun. Chris Holt who first asked the administration to look into the potential of implementing the framework in Windsor last year. Holt said he was pleased to see council approve this first step in the process.

The idea was first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s, and has since been adopted by municipalities around the world.

According to a report presented to council, many Canadian cities including Hamilton, London and Toronto have either adopted Vision Zero, or are in the process of developing a plan.

'City taking responsibility'

Graham Larkin, the executive director of Vision Zero Canada, explained that the city would need to implement fail-safe systems.

Vision Zero aims to find a way for cars, bicycles and pedestrians to safety intermix on the road. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Examples of that include improved speed regulations, crosswalks, protected bike lines, and so forth, all in an effort to consider how people can safely intermix, whether they're in a car, on a bicycle, or walking.

"It's about the city taking responsibility for designing out the conflict and that requires a lot of political will," said Larkin.

According to the report, the most established Vision Zero program in the continent is in New York City.

Since its adoption in 2014, the report indicates that overall traffic fatalities city-wide decreased 15 per cent from 275 per year to 235 per year.

In terms of funding, there is no dedicated funding source identified by Windsor at this point.

The report to council indicated that the City of London has indicated that it will cost $125,000 per year within London's capital budget to implement a similar policy.

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