Chicago made waves this week with a new initiative for eliminating traffic deaths.
The city of Chicago’s transportation department, headed by commissioner Gabe Klein, hasreleased a new “action agenda” called “Chicago Forward.” It contains a goal that, as far as I know, has never to date been explicitly embraced by a major United States city:
Eliminate all pedestrian, bicycle, and overall traffic crash fatalities within 10 years.
That is the first “performance measure” listed in the safety section of the Chicago plan, which also calls for a 50 percent reduction of roadway injuries to pedestrians, bicycles, and motorists in five years.
How are they going to do that?
There’s no single answer to that question. Instead, the city will be taking a multifaceted approach to traffic safety that includes engineering local streets to reduce car speeds; improving pedestrian and bike facilities; education; better data collection and evaluation; and increasing enforcement. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is strongly behind such measures even when they are politically unpopular, as was the case with a controversial speed camera bill that the mayor pushed through the City Council last month.
Commissioner Klein was not available to comment on Chicago’s new plan, but Ron Burke, executive director of the city’s Active Transportation Alliance, said he and fellow advocates are optimistic. “There’s a lot to like in the plan,” says Burke, who notes that the city has already begun implementing many of the policies in the report. “It’s encouraging that the city would create and publish a plan to begin with, one that lays out goals and objectives that can be tracked and monitored. It puts them on the record and holds them accountable.”