To the editor:
I am responding to the letter, “Vision Zero is a detrimental fad” in the Feb. 7 Alexandria Times. The author cites a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal with one person’s opinion about an .8 mile section of road- way in Los Angeles to make a case that “Vision Zero is detrimental.” You can read a fact-based rebuttal to that here.
The Federal Highway Administration provides more useful references for how streets should be up- dated for both safety and mobility. The inference that our mobility is at risk from street changes that prioritize safety is false and is an approach that uses fear, not unlike approaches used by some politicians.
FHWA guidelines are based on results of numerous roadway changes, not just a single case study; they provide transportation officials with parameters for when the number of lanes might be reduced to improve safety without undue impact on mobility. Locally, reconfiguration of King Street between Janneys Lane and Radford Street is an example of implementing safety changes without measurable traffic diversion or undue additional delays.
Very few traffic crashes have occurred since implementation in 2016, compared to an annual average of seven crashes during the 10 years prior to this project. Addressing both safety and mobility is a question of balance, and fact-based analysis.
Traffic fatalities exceed the number of deaths from gun violence in Alexandria, andtrafficviolenceisget- ting worse. There were five traffic fatalities in Alexandria in 2018, nearly double the average annual number (2.6) from 2010 to 2015. With a jump to four fatalities annually in 2016 and 2017, and now five in 2018, (and one so far in 2019), most people will agree that we have a growing traffic safety problem.
In addition to the tragedy of each traffic fatality, there are many additional tragic but untold stories of the lasting damage inflicted upon crash survivors and their families. Alexandria’s Vision Zero Plan prescribes a set of low-cost initiatives to address our growing traffic safety problem.
The plan was specifically developed for Alexandria by a city interdepartmental working group, which included Alexandria police and fire departments. While I too have concerns about growing congestion, FHWA guidelines and fact-based decision-making suggest that safety on our streets can be dramatically improved without undue impact on our mobility.
-Jim Durham, Alexandria