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What We Learned at Philadelphia’s 2023 Vision Zero Conference

What We Learned at Philadelphia’s 2023 Vision Zero Conference

We came away from the conference feeling energized for Philly’s future and excited to work with other local organizations to realize that future.

Jawnt Team
April 26, 2023

Jawnt was proud to sponsor and attend the 2023 Philadelphia Vision Zero Conference. The conference is put on every year by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia as a way to amplify efforts towards achieving zero traffic deaths by 2030, and was hosted this year by Temple University. This year’s conference saw double the turnout of previous years, signaling an increased interest in the safety of our city streets. We came away from the conference feeling energized for Philly’s future and excited to work with other local organizations to realize that future.

Here are our three takeaways from the conference:

1. You’re not crazy - there has been an increase in reckless driving

There may have been a few times in the recent past where you’ve thought “have drivers gotten even more dangerous?” Unfortunately, the data presented at the conference says that you’re not wrong. Per the city’s 2022 annual report:

“After a tragic spike in traffic deaths in 2020, we had hoped for a dramatic decrease in 2021. This was not the case. 121 traffic deaths made 2021 the second-deadliest year for traffic crashes since 1999. These deaths are felt throughout Philadelphia. Each one underscores an important point: traffic deaths are never normal; they are unacceptable and preventable. Philadelphians deserve safe streets and transportation options. Philadelphians deserve zero traffic fatalities and serious injury.”

And sadly, 80% of accidents still happen on 12% of streets. Check out the map of the most dangerous streets provided by the city here.

2. Good people doing good work

From local, state, and federal policy makers, to everyday citizens, to victims of traffic violence and their families, the conference was a collection of passionate changemakers who understand that we must do more to improve street safety. Forum topics like automated speed enforcement and equitable transit strategies showed how thoughtful innovation can do wonders for road safety.

The best example of this is on Roosevelt Boulevard, where speed cameras were installed in mid-2020. The 14 mile boulevard that is known to be one of the most dangerous stretches in the city saw a 36% reduction in crashes since the installation of the cameras, which proved successful at "changing driver behavior, improving safety, and saving lives,” according to a new state report.

Simple, thoughtful upgrades to our roads are quite literally saving lives.

3. The time is NOW for bike / transit policy

As mentioned, the conference saw double the turnout this year vs. previous years. Perhaps one factor driving more interest is increased federal funding. Money is flowing again into infrastructure and transit at unprecedented levels, and it is being used for good. For instance, SEPTA is using this “once-in-a-generation” federal funding opportunity to modernize their trolley fleet, upgrading the cars from the current Reagan-era models to make them accessible to people with disabilities.

The conference concluded with a mayoral panel on mobility, moderated by Daniel Pearson from the Inquirer, who questioned seven mayoral candidates on topics like the usage of camera technology to enforce bus-only lanes and the prioritization of transportation issues through the creation of a Department of Transportation. The biggest takeaway: every candidate supports either continuing or expanding Philly’s Vision Zero platform. 

There’s a long way to go, but we’re thrilled with the renewed emphasis and are optimistic that Philly can lead the charge into a Vision Zero future - where traffic deaths are a thing of the past.

Jawnt Team

The Jawnt blog

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