Vision Zero: From Sweden to New York City, with Love

Sarah Goodyear, Atlantic Citylab: What were the main barriers that had to be overcome in initially adopting Sweden’s Vision Zero strategy?

Matts-Åke Belin, Swedish traffic safety strategist:  I would say that the main problems that we had in the beginning were not really political, they were more on the expert side. The largest resistance we got to the idea about Vision Zero was from those political economists that have built their whole career on cost-benefit analysis. For them it is very difficult to buy into “zero.” Because in their economic models, you have costs and benefits, and although they might not say it explicitly, the idea is that there is an optimum number of fatalities. A price that you have to pay for transport.

The problem is the whole transport sector is quite influenced by the whole utilitarianist mindset. Now we’re bringing in the idea that it’s not acceptable to be killed or seriously injured when you’re transporting. It’s more a civil-rights thing that you bring into the policy.

The other group that had trouble with Vision Zero was our friends, our expert friends. Because most of the people in the safety community had invested in the idea that safety work is about changing human behavior. Vision Zero says instead that people make mistakes, they have a certain tolerance for external violence, let’s create a system for the humans instead of trying to adjust the humans to the system.

vision zero accident scene sweden

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The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver. Part II: Brainstorming Protective Measures

little-girl3Upon reading the World Streets article of 25 Oct. on ‘The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver’, Dr. Mah Hui, a city councilman in George Town Malaysia, commented:

It is very interesting and promising proposition which i can agree with substantially. But suddenly you break off when you just made the point that its more effective to design the roads to slow down vehicles. Do you have section 2 to suggest what types of designs have been used and might work?

In Penang, our council is using speed tables to slow down cars with limited success partly because it’s not well designed as I see the motorists and especially motor cyclist speeding up and crossing the speed tables at over 30 kph !  Even  with better designs how do we reduce their speed over stretches without the tables?

Regards/ Mah Hui

Oops. You are so right Ma Hui. I admit I was being a bit lazy in that first blast, but as luck would have it I have given this quite a bit of attention over the years and have had a  chance to observe both better (less) and worse (more) treatments in cities around the world.  And while I am by no means a traffic engineer, what I can offer this morning is a quick shortlist as it comes off the top of my head and memory, and with more than a little help from US Institute of Transportation Engineers Traffic Calming Library (www.ite.org/traffic/), along with an article just in from Partners for Public Spaces by Jay Walljasper entitled  “How to Restore Walking as a Way of Life”.

And now, in to the answer to your query, starting with a first lot of ideas for Slow Street Architecture:

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Op-ed: The Psychopathology of the Everyday Driver

speeding car pedestrian crossingSometimes life is simple:

Question: How fast will car drivers speed on any given stretch of road or street?

Answer: As fast as they can.

Qualification: And if that is not true for every driver on the road, it is true for enough of them that if road safety is the goal, then this brutal, uncompromising reality must be taken into serious consideration.

Question 2: Now what if anything can we do about it?

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Signals, Perceptions, Behaviour: Questions, Blurs & Clues

In transportation circles, most often in Europe and North America but not uniquely there, we often brain2hear the term “behavior modification”, which is usually brandished as something that somebody else has to learn to do and cope with. More often than not this matter of behavior modification crops up when it comes to considering how, when and where people drive cars. But we can also hear about it with reference to the behavior (and the modification thereof) of pedestrians, cyclists, commuters and other drivers and street denizens. And as we can see from the results, this matter of behavior and modification turns out to be quite a challenge. We are opening up the pages of World Streets and others of our projects and work to these discussions over the course of 2014.

- – – > Click HERE  for more on behavior and choice from World Streets

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Toward a new paradigm for transport in cities: Let’s see what Carlos Pardo has to say

The construction of a well-defined, broadly accepted agenda for New Mobility  until the present time has been sadly lacking. But what we and a numb er of our international colleagues have managed to develop over the last two decades is a certain number of agreed basic principles spanning many different areas and kinds of operational situations, but somehow until now we have failed to put them all together into a well-defined, convincing operational and policy package. We think of this as the move toward a new paradigm for transport in cities – and it all starts with . . . slowing down.

Today I would like to extract and comment on some of the graphics and thoughts developed by our colleague Carlosfelipe Pardo in a presentation which he entitled “The psychology of urban mobility”. I have extracted from his presentation three sets of images which I would now like to present you and comment briefly. (For the full original presentation please click here.)

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